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While Kuta has an international feel, there's no denying that it's very much Australian-dominated to the point that I'm almost surprised local businesses don't price in Aussie dollars.It feels as Australian as Sydney or Melbourne with many of the local bars and other businesses Aussie-owned and almost entirely patronised by fair dinkum Australians.Many of the service staff in restaurants and bars even speak with an Aussie twang. The problem with Kuta is not the beach which is fantastic, as good as any I have visited anywhere in the world. What is essentially a single-lane road runs down to and along the beachfront and traffic is stop / start for most of the day.Lots of small alleys run off the main road but they're even narrower with barely enough space for a car and a motorcycle heading in opposite directions to squeeze past each other. You're either stuck in stop / start traffic or you have to brave the pavement and compete with not just the maniac locals but also foreign wankers zooming around narrow lanes at breakneck speeds on motorcycles.
Welcome to the jewel of Indonesia's tourism industry, the charming island of Bali.
Kuta is not the only beach, but it's the most popular. The beach is first class, as nice as anything you'll find in Thailand, but the search for the famed Balinese charm will take you elsewhere on the island.
The backpacker's bible and the original Lonely Planet , the yellow book, or as it is officially known, South-East Asia On A Shoestring, puts Bali as the beach and island highlight of the region, well ahead of what it describes as the curious mix of debauchery and family fun that is Phuket.
I know Phuket well, having visited perhaps a dozen times over the years, but this was my first visit to Bali. And that sand and surf is often equated with Kuta, the island's most popular beach.
A narrow road separates the palm-fringed beach from the resort's bars, restaurants, hotels and endless alleys of shops and vendors.
Kuta is commercial to the point of being tacky; it feels like there are more shops and vendors selling tourist junk than all of Thailand's beaches and islands combined.