Christmas in Kuta: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like A Trip to the Emergency Room

Christmas in Kuta: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like A Trip to the Emergency Room

“Daddaddaddad! Guess what’s outside!” My dad looked at me groggily from his pillow. “Whaaaaat?” “SUNSHINE.” It was Christmas day and, like any respectable kid, I woke my dad up with abundant enthusiasm, irritatingly timed to sunrise. Over the last three days, my dad and I had fallen in love with Kuta, Lombok and its friendly locals. But, monsoon rains prevented us from exploring the island and cabin fever was wearing me down. Luckily for all parties, the clouds finally parted on Christmas morning With perhaps overzealous intensity, (me standing outside the bathroom shouting at my dad to pull it together because at any moment, the sun was going to disappear forever and his alleged need for a shower was going to ruin Christmas) we put on our bathing suits, rented a scooter, and armed ourselves with a hand drawn map to go check out the beaches surrounding Kuta. We headed north out of town and entered a gorgeous landscape of rolling hills and ocean coast. We passed through tiny villages, got lost, asked for directions, made friend with some kids — — and I made my dad stop so I could snap a quick picture of a passing pack of wild monkeys. Apparently, my dad is not a monkey fan: “Dad! Monkeys.” “I hate monkeys.” “Monkeys.” “Gross.” “Monkeys.” “Get back on the scooter.” After forty minutes, we arrived at Selong Belanak beach. The shore was full of actual Indonesian people swimming, grilling, and listening to music. Pretty much every beach I’d been to in Southeast Asia had been packed with Westerners, and the only locals were the ones serving...
How My High-Maintenance Dad Learned to Love Indonesia (It Takes a While)

How My High-Maintenance Dad Learned to Love Indonesia (It Takes a While)

Indonesia is the land of pizza. Or at least it is when you travel with my dad. For our first week together, pretty much any time I asked him what he wanted to eat, he replied with “pizza” (or gave me a particularly forlorn look and whispered “Chik-fil-a”). My dad is open to new experiences, but he’s also self-admittedly high maintenance and considers A/C, cable TV, and sanitary cooking conditions non-negotiable. So, when he offered to meet me in Indonesia for two weeks, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He’d never been to a developing country, but promised he was ready to get outside of his comfort zone — or at least take a closer look at its edge. As our trip progressed, it became clear that his coping strategy when things got overwhelming was to hunt down pizza. So, on our first day on the island of Lombok, I wasn’t at all surprised to find us wandering down the streets of a tiny village looking for somewhere with a vaguely Italian name. Coming to Lombok had taken us miles outside my dad’s comfort zone and had subsequently fast-tracked us to the nearest cheese covered bread dish calling itself pizza. We’d spent the previous three days in beautiful Ubud, Bali, of Eat, Pray, Love fame — — and then the manicured tourist trap of Kuta, Bali: think American chain restaurants and overly aggressive Ray-Bali sunglass vendors. (I have no photographs of Kuta. It wasn’t worth photographing.) I convinced my dad we should head one island over to the city of Kuta on Lombok, which touts the same name but with more...