Do you know the one about the girl who was going to see more of Bali than just Padangbai this time? Yeh, she didn’t.
Okay it’s not too late, I haven’t even gotten my visa extention yet, so anything can happen still. But the saying ‘stuck in Padangbai’ is to be applied yet again.
Besides the many passing through, there are quite a few expats here. And all those who’ve stayed longer, keep coming back. So it really is a saying here. When you tell this to the passersby, first they wonder “What do you do, if you don’t even dive?” second “And why stuck?”, and thirdly “You have to dive though, especially if you’re here for so long!” Apparently this is an exquisite dive spot.
I explain it’s stuck in the positive sense. This town is too much fun to leave. I can’t tire of the waves. I can’t tire of the jokes.
“Goodmorning” at 11 pm.
“Nice to meet me.” as comeback to “Nice to meet you.”
“Can I borrow you later?” when in need of a lighter.
And there’s no pretentions. “If you don’t like it, take another drink” is what the band says. “Quiet, bad bisnis, only 150.000rph” is what the warung at the beach says. They’re not sneaky about it. You’re the tourist, you’re here to generate our income. So let’s make it more fun for everyone, and ‘join us’.
I still haven’t made many traveler-friends; they all keep leaving. But I’m making more and more local friends. And even though there’s a language barrier I’m learning from their culture, and we’re learning from each other language wise.
And another nice thing about being in one place for so long is the almost residential status.
The transport and sarong sales folks have stopped harassing me, “Buy something?” has become “Hallo, where you go?” (which means more like ‘how are you’) The shops and restaurants let me come to them instead of calling out every time I pass by.
Yesterday I wanted a massage, and there are about 5 massage ladies prowling my regular beach. And they kept passing me by, even with eye-contact and saying hallo. I had to go over and ask.
Everything is just so easy. I walk the street, someone passes me and offers me a lift, because they’ve got the time. I forgot my wallet at the inn, so ask one of my friends at the bar if I can borrow his bike real quick. The key’s already in my hand and he’s pointing at the pile of bikes parked out front. Never asking about license (which I don’t have) or skill (I have to ask him how to start it again; I haven’t really driven since I was last here.)
It’s this sense of comunity that is so much stronger here. Helping a friend out is the norm. If there’s something you can do for someone, you do it.
This is not particular for this town by the way, it’s my experience in all of Southeast Asia.
I had started a course on bahasa Indonesia. But since Bali has their own bahasa I changed classes. I’ve learned to say thank you – suksumo, your welcome – maoali and no – sing and a few lines to tell the boys off when they’re trying to hit on me again, shut up – siup/mendup, fuck you – daskleng and go home – magedi.
And even though at a nextdoor bar daskleng almost raised a fight between some Americans who were joking around and a local who was offended, when another boy was trying to steal a kiss and I told him magedi! he pissed his pants laughing.