Bali and Beyond: A Quick Stop-Over at Kuta

It was time for a dive trip after staying dry for so long. We wanted to tick off our bucket list and chose Wakatobi, a resort in South Sulawesi. Getting there involved taking a chartered plane from Bali, so we were more than happy to spend the night before somewhere near the airport. I chose Quest Hotel Tuban, just 5 minutes away from the airport and newly opened in Mar 2012. Its opening offer was USD57 (S$75) for a standard double room. I thought we might as well take a chance on it since we’d only be spending one night there.

We were pleasantly surprised when we got there because they gave us a free upgrade to a deluxe room. It was nicely furnished with modern though rather flimsy furniture, but at that price, I’m not complaining.

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The service at the hotel was great, from the friendly faces at the complimentary hotel pickup to reception and masseuses. We ordered an in-room massage at no extra cost over the in-house spa price and paid about IDR 150,000 (S$21) for a 45 minute full body massage while DC had his foot reflexology (IDR 100,000 or S$14) while watching TV.

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The room had plenty of space for all our dive junk to quite easily spread out, plus several cable channels on TV.

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The toilet was decent, just don’t expect a bathtub. One problem with the shower was that it tended to get really hot, it had a cycle of being cool and then getting hotter and hotter and then back to cool again. So you have to set it so the hottest point is about manageable. It takes some getting used to. Also, the finishings really are quite flimsy and the place is already starting to show signs of wear. The doors, in particular, are rather thin, so bring earplugs and hope that your neighbours don’t talk too loudly at night. We were there just two months after opening and the door stopper in the bathroom was starting to show signs of rust. A lot of the finishings were rather poor, for example plastering not done flush to the ceiling or to the floor skirting (we’ve been noticing these things since we’re in the midst of renovation work for our own place at the moment). I suggest going now when the hotel is still new and definitely not a year later.

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And the rest of the hotel? It’s small but decent. The pool looks quite big. It may be cold though, because it’s in the shade much of the day. There’s also a buffet breakfast with the room charge with a decent enough selection of Indonesian and western selections, from American-style items complete with egg station to chicken porridge with local toppings. Unfortunately, the chicken porridge had so much msg that it gave me a headache. I suggest taking more from the fruit selection instead.

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Quest Hotel Tuban
Jl. Kediri No. 9
Tuban 80361, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 764009
Email: TubanInfo@Quest-Hotels.Com

We took the complimentary hotel shuttle to the beach to have a walk and look around. Kuta beach is the same as it’s always been – plenty of folks sitting around on the dull brown sand. Maybe it was because we went at dusk, but there was a slightly depressing atmosphere about the place, especially as the street vendors half-heartedly pushed trinkets and hawked cold Bintang beers in our general direction.

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Maybe it was the omnipresent MacDonald’s sign that reminded me what Kuta represented – mass market consumption – that made it that way.

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So we ducked in a mall to look for some reprieve. (Yeah right, we were just hungry, that’s all.) The most promising place was a rustically decorated restaurant overlooking the beach, Segara Seafood. Seeing that the area was so touristy, we were worried that it would have awful food, but it was surprisingly good! DC had a decent rendition of sop buntut (oxtail soup) with very tender oxtail in a generous portion together with carrot and potato. It was nicely flavoured with a touch of spice and there was a reasonably spicy chilli paste to go along.

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I went for the gurame goreng (deep-fried whole freshwater fish) that came with awesome chilli sauce. It’s not as hot as the one for ayam penyet, but was along the same lines of flavour – lightly cooked chilli paste with belacan and tomato. The deep-fried fish itself was excellently done – crispy enough to eat the tail and the fins, yet tender and juicy inside. I liked the side of plenty of raw vegetables as they lent themselves well to mopping up the yummy sambal. In the background is a generous side of pelecing kangkung, essentially boiled “water spinach” topped with more of the excellent chilli-tomato-belacan sambal.

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Overall, it was a great choice. The food was good and generally priced at about IDR 70,000 (S$10) onwards for the Indonesian dishes. Drinks were reasonably priced too, and my coconut was massive. We enjoyed watching the sky darken over Kuta beach from our little perch. It was a nice place to chill out and go back for an early night to catch an early flight out.

Segara Restaurant
Discovery Shopping Mall (Beach Front)
Jl. Kartika Plaza (80361), Kuta
Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 769613

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