Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kuta, First Stop Bali & How Long Does A Visa Extention Take (Bali Hai & Storm Brewing Company)

The two flights went according to plan from Pedang to Jakarta and then Jakarta to Denpasar International Airport, Bali. One thing did stand out for us and that was the extensive airport security. We didn’t have to show our passports once, quite worrying I think. On the beer side and quite random we did see a guy wearing a Dos Equis T-shirt while waiting to board in Padang. I am a huge fan of Dos Equis, especially the Vienna Style Amber version. In my opinion the best BBQ beer on the planet! Maybe a visit Mexico should be slotted into our travel itinerary.
Well that was a surprise. Dos Equis T-shirt in Indonesia. Good Man
Kuta did not go quite according to plan. It started well checking into The LA Inn which was a steal at only £5 per night including a swimming pool and breakfast. This was unbelievable considering it was time for Christmas rates and all the other hotels and guest houses were quadrupling their prices. Stationed between Poppies Gang 1 & 2 it was in a prime location for the entertainment and bustling narrow lanes that Kuta has to offer, and was where we ended up willing the days away.
Bargain Digs

& the bonus free swimming-pool
Our initial plan was to spend a couple of days moving around the island before making our way to the Gili Islands to meet up with Danny and Kathryn for Christmas. One major job we had to do was extend our 30 day tourist visas to make sure we didn’t over stay our welcome in Indonesia and end up with a hefty fine or in a prison cell. Research informed us that it should take a day, and this is where we ended somewhere up a creak without a paddle. The visa extension took seven days including three trips back to the busy immigration office to fill in paperwork and pay etc. There went our plans and nine nights in Kuta with no luxury of leaving.
Kuta did end up being an eye opener. Bali is a beautiful island but Kuta itself is not what you would call paradise. This place is party central. Just picture Magaluf in high season, but instead of being full of the English contingent it’s full of Australians up for boozing and a party. We ended up enjoying it for a short period of time, once we were in the right mind frame.
The Bintang Beer arrives for another big night in Kuta
Our days were spent at a pretty leisurely pace getting friendly with the local book store owner as well as a number of great Wi-Fi cafes. It was time to blog for eight hours per day, mainly due to the fact that uploading each photo could take half an hour.
Swell Cafe was the Wi-Fi institute while the rain fell

There was a beach, just didn't really put it to full use this time
The weather was warm but it never stopped raining and the streets would flood in a matter of minutes before returning to normal just as quickly. We did at last purchase that umbrella which had been eluding us for the last four months.
Swimming in the streets
Another positive about Kuta was some great food both Asian and Western and a damn entertaining night out in a club. 61 Legian was a disco ball flashing meat market with some wacky drinks offers. A bottle of Bintang would set you back 50p and one of the bars served pints of Carlsberg for 1000 Rp all night. That is about 8p. The highlight of the night on the tiles was getting told to move so some important people could have our seats. For those of you that know me that’s probably not the best approach to take especially in a rude manner. I politely informed the little man that it was the worst f**king service I had ever had. I wish I had my licensing card on me! Not to worry though the VIP roof terrace which was opened to everybody served as many free Vodka Red Bulls as possible between mid-night and 12.29am.
The meat market at 61 Legian

29 mins of Vodka Redbull's,-3-2-1 Go...

Kate wondering where the free drinks were!

There we go free Vodka Redbull's, bonus...
We can also thank Kuta for introducing us to some new Indonesian beers that were not called Bintang. These were Bali Hai and some products from the local Storm Brewery.
The Bali Hai Brewery opened its doors in 1975 as an affiliate to a well known Asian Brewery and produced under licence San Miguel, Asahi and Lawenbrau (non-alcoholic) beers.
The brewery went on to create its own brands that include Bali Hai Draft, Panther Stout, Panther Stout 8%, Panther Ginseng Stout, Timor Super Brew and Cendrawasih Papua.
Bali Hai Premium is the brewery’s flagship beer and was initially introduced in the Island of the Gods, Bali. It is brewed as a classic Pilsner style and is a medium bodied lager with a slightly dry finish. It has a nice creamy foam head with a well balanced malty hop finish. Personally I prefer it to Bintang Pilsner. I suppose that’s the great thing writing about beer. It is all about personal taste and preference, rather than a science. Everybody’s taste is different.
Bali Hai Premium-600ml Btl

Cheers from Bali Hai Premium Lager

The Storm Brewery produces delicious ales to centuries-old recipes and can only be enjoyed at selected bars, cafes and restaurants in Bali, and a few selected places away from the island.
The brewery also has a fantastic history and story, which I think is so important and helps set beers apart. If there is one website link to check out it’s this one and especially the History page.
Storm produces three distinctive types of ale, which hold a number of fine beers. The categories and products are listed below:
·         Traditional Ales Series - (Sand Storm, Red Dawn, Black Moon)
·         Modern Ales Series - (Storm Tropical Ale, Storm Pale Ale)
·         Special Ales Series - (Jamaican Banana Beer, Mexican Chilli Beer, Belgium Chocolate Stout, Irish Christmas Pudding Stout)
As previously stated Storm Beers are not the easiest to come across even in Bali, but I was lucky enough to sample the Sand Storm.
Sand Storm turned out to be delicious medium-strength pale ale with a delicate balance of malt and light hop bitterness, with a dry fruity finish. I found it like heaven after surviving the past four months only on Blonde Lager Pilsners.
Sand Storm Golden Ale
While in Kuta we even met up with a great guy called Tobin who ran bars in Bondi Beach, Sydney. He was travelling his way to Sri Lanka in search of a new site for a bar that included great surf. I never knew that behind Hawaii, Sri Lanka has the best surfing in the world.
Anyway after nine days in Kuta we finally had our visa extension, which was a stamp in our passports, and we could at last think about getting the transfer to Padangbai, where we needed to jump on the fast boat to the island of Gili Trawangan, and just in time for Christmas.
We can leave Kuta right there. We will be back in a couple of weeks to take better pictures and get organised for our flight to Singapore.

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