Your Ultimate Bali Guide

Historical Journals Revealed the Old Kuta

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Photo credits: Flickr DSL Photo

Almost anyone who visits Bali would not miss Kuta as part of the holiday, who would not? Aside of the turquoise blue sea and white sand beach, Kuta went through a heart-breaking tragedy in October 2002. From ups and downs throughout time, the area still has its charm and has never lost the ability to win people’s heart.

Kuta was once a small quiet village. Some historical journals state that Kuta kept changing and developing from time to time since the first foreigner, Aernoudt Lintgens, arrived there in February 1597. The Dutch sailor was stunned by the sublime Kuta, where he spent a week to record his experience there which later was written into a journal.

Along with his Portuguese partner, Emanuel Roodenburch, Lintgens wrote in his journal about the exotic nature and Balinese hospitality he experienced in Kuta. His journal shows that this western intellect was fascinated to know deeper Indonesia which is considered as “the last paradise”.

Believe or not, this sailor’s journal had helped to promote Bali abroad, which was later promoted into a tourism commodity. Another journal written by an English woman, Helen Eva Yates, in 1914, was used as a guide by a Dutch government ship, Koninklijk Paketvaart Maatschapij (KPM), to lure Dutch tourists to sail down to Bali.

Calling Bali as an enchanted isle, Helen was impressed by the locals whom she described as artistic people, unpretentious, and sincere. All to her was as if a healing therapy for her yearning of something “missing” in the capitalised, modern Europe.

“Island of Bali” of Miguel Covarrubias confirmed Helen’s writings even more. Miguel, writing in his journal, was in awe when he arrived. He described what the local farmers did with the fields as an artistic thing.

These journals led to bring western tourists whom yearned the same thing visiting Bali with KPM through Buleleng harbour. It was started with a hundred tourists in a month, and kept increasing along with the spread of “promotion”, word of mouth. The tourism industry became more real after KPM opened its tourism office in Singaraja in 1925.

A woman from Scotland named Manx came to Kuta in 1932, could not resist her love of Kuta and decided to choose Ketut Tantri as her Balinese name. The author of “Revolusi di Nusa Damai” (Revolution in Peaceful Nusa) as well ruled an important role in Kuta’s history. She also built Suara Samudra, the first hotel in Kuta.

As a port area, Kuta was beginning to be visited by other Indonesians from across the country. Looking at the increasing visits of tourists, the local people started to follow what K’tut Tantri had done. They initiated to start opening their own business by renovating simple houses into home stays although with limited facilities. Some other locals who initially were fishermen diverted business into tourism sector. Most businesses were developed firstly as family businesses such as hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and warung.

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