So since I can’t seem to find the time, patience, or internet to write this long, fascinating blog about all my travels, what you’re getting are the highlights. Everybody wants a story that’s short, sweet and to the point, right? Well that’s what you may or may not be getting.
There was Bali. Oh Bali.
I got there about 6 hours before everybody else did. BEACH.
Met a Spanish woman from the Basque Country. Her name was Maite, like “mighty” with a funny accent. She traveled all over Indo without speaking the language by herself, and like many Spaniards, doesn’t speak a whole lot of English. We sat by the pool while I was waiting for my friends to get there, she was speaking broken bahasa with me, and then she mumbled, “Ay Dios, hace mucho calor hoy!” I almost instinctively replied with,“ Si, yo se!” Click. We instantly switched languages and chilled by the pool for another 3 hours, just chatting. She told me about Alor and the diving there. Guess where I’m going soon?
Saw the Barong & Keris dance. Barong is now one of my favorite Balinese um… characters? Gods? He’s just a mischievous, bold protector. He’s also a dragon tiger thing. The dancers danced, fought witches, and chased monkeys, and also had this strange fascination with cutting off balls… I’ll talk about this again, but you’ll see that it’s an Indo thing…
Went to Ubud. We had some lunch that was definitely not Halal. Anthony Bourdain went to this place and enjoyed the food thoroughly, but the babi guling was a little questionable. They had skin, meat, sausage, blood sausage, and something else. The skin was crunchy, but hurt my mouth. The sausage varieties were also a little funky, but that day, the regular, straight up pork meat was delicious. I almost ordered a plate of just that, but I didn’t want everybody to have to wait for me. Later, I found out that one of the other girls was tempted to do the same. We could have stayed in the buddy system.
Did you read “Eat, Pray, Love?” If you did, you’re gonna need some new drawers. If not, this story’s pretty cool still. I met Wayan, a Balinese healer. A medicine woman. Katie and Chris and I talked with her and she told me a few things based off my body reading. First thing she said after looking at the lines on my hands, wrists, elbows, poking at my legs, feet: “Lose weight.” Thanks, Sherlock. The teachers at my school have no hangups telling me that one for free. She continued, this time giving me some “real” readings. I’m a 4th generation reincarnate, I will have a long life, I will have 2 careers: one that I love, and the other will get me to that preferred career. There will be two men in my life who will love me deeply, and the other, a third, is just “meh.” (That’s a direct quote.) She made no mention of kids, marriage, anything like that. She told Chris some really accurate details about her long term relationship that she just ended. Down to days and everything. She told Katie that she’s going to have 3 pregnancies, but only 2 will bear children. I think she’s a bit more mentally prepared for motherhood now… Or terrified. Good one, Wayan. I wanted to call her a “bullshit” since she charged us $25 USD per person, she originally wanted $40, but whatever, it was all for the experience. (If you read the book, you might not find that as offensive. However, $25 is a week’s salary for some of the teachers at my school.)
Two words that will make Dane Cook move to Indonesia: MONKEY TEMPLES.
The signs are enough to confuse the crap out of you. “Stand still and walk away slowly?” And I’m supposed to do that how? The monkeys will attack. Don’t underestimate their power of being pesky little assholes with fangs. One jumped onto this girls backpack, ripped the zipper open, stole her WetWipes, and then proceeded to try and eat them.
Another, a big alpha male this time, bit a loud American woman on the back. She deserved it. She was an idiot. “I only wanna feed the baby!” She swats at the big guy walking toward her, his heart (and stomach) set on the bunch of bananas she has resting in her lap. He walks closer. Swat. “I’m not afraid of you! Get away!” Swat. Swat. BITE. “Aah! Mother Fu–” She was obnoxious. Really she had it coming to her. I, on the other hand, was holding hands, (actually, her hand was so small that she could only get a grip on my finger) with a baby monkey who had mistaken me for Mom. Chris started referring to me as the Monkey Whisperer. She hates them. (Theaters, too apparently…)
We also checked out the Ubud craft market. They prey on unsuspecting bule and charge ungodly prices in a city full of godly temples. Let me preface this a little bit. I paid Rp. 20,000 for a 2 meter piece of stamped batik in Malang, where batik isn’t a common export. Back to Ubud’s rip off central, this Ibu wanted a little more than Rp. 20,000 for an IDENTICAL piece. Add a zero and move the comma for a grand total of Rp. 200,000. Price inflation? Maybe. Bule price? Definitely. I talked her down to Rp. 20,000 and told her to forget it. Sudah punya itu! Haha!
Since it was Katie’s birthday, we scoured the streets for 2 for 1 drinks, ladies’ night specials, anybody who will buy her a birthday drink. Live cover bands, awful cocktails (is it really that hard to make a whiskey sour?), American fancy bar prices, and a drag show (that was HILARIOUS) all added up for a generally fun night out. Katie enjoyed herself, got pulled up on stage to sing with the band. I think they ended up doing “Dancing Queen.” It was great! Nobody went blind from the arak, either! Woohoo!
Raj and I went to the beach for a walk and when we got down to the really fancy places down the beach that were packed, we noticed that there were little creatures scuttling along the water’s edge. I kicked a little crab away from my toes. He just wanted a snack, but I wasn’t having that. We turned around, walking the whole way back in the dry sand. The girls were back at the hotel, sitting at a table talking. There were barstools in the water, so I decided to sit there. Fewer mosquitoes and cooler. I was in a pool. On a chair. Underwater. Win.
The next morning, it was time for everybody to get on planes and peace out back to Medan, Jakarta and Surabaya. My flight was at 9 PM. I slept in, thankful for my bed with bug nets, chilled at the beach, thankful sometimes for the vendors on the beach that sold water, and when my flight going home was delayed yet again, I was thankful for Starbucks and their clean, western style bathroom where I changed into clean clothes so I didn’t have to sit for an hour in a sandy situation. Denpasar’s airport is pretty dark and dingy considering it’s one of Indonesia’s busiest airports.
Next time, I’m finding Mojo’s Burritos. Mau Mexican food!