One of my favourite places in Indonesia was Kuta in Lombok (not to be confused with Kuta Bali). We took a mini-bus there for the weekend while we were waiting to see if we’d ever get our passports back.
It was about a 3 hour bus ride, we didn’t know anything about the place, and we had no place to stay, but I’d seen enough pictures of the amazing beaches there to know we definitely had to check it out (I have tons of pictures from all of the beaches, but they definitely deserve their own post).
The bus driver let us out in the middle of town, and we shouldered our backpacks and walked about 10 feet to the nearest homestay, where we got a room with wi-fi and breakfast for $5/night.
We were in Kuta Lombok in late October, so just at the beginning of the rainy season, but we had absolutely gorgeous weather. I’m pretty sure I got heat stroke, but it was worth it.
Because it was the start of the rainy season though, there were hardly any visitors there, often we were the only people in the restaurants or shops.
Kuta is not much of a tourist town anyway, it’s very laid back with amazing surfing at many of the different beaches, and it’s off the beaten path enough that a lot of people don’t make it over there, but I saw a few signs for big resorts being developed, so that will likely change in the next few years.
We had a great time creeping the town and exploring the surrounding area on a moped, playing with the baby goats that wander around everywhere, and eating at some amazing restaurants, we only had 2 days there but I would have liked to stay longer.
The only thing I would mention as a negative thing about Kuta is that there are a lot of children there working to sell bracelets and blankets to tourists, and it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if there aren’t many visitors there at the time.
It’s hard because you want to help them, but we’d traveled enough by then to know that it actually isn’t helping them to buy things from them on the street, because that’s just incentive for them to spend more time selling on the street to support their families, rather than doing kid things, like going to school.
The kids would come up to you in restaurants, or while you were walking down the street and show you their goods, but if you expressed any interest you would be mobbed by any kids that were in the area, trying to get you to buy from them. I saw older kids beating up younger kids to get them out of the way, it was really sad.
There are a couple of restaurants we visited in Kuta that donated a portion of every meal sold to helping the kids so they no longer have to work on the streets. As I learned in Cambodia, if you want to help, there are ways of doing it that won’t end up doing more harm in the long run.
If you have a chance to visit Kuta Lombok, definitely do it, especially if you are a surfer. I promise, you won’t regret it.