Day LXVII – MAI 24, 2012

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Padangbai isn’t much of a barefeet town. My flipflops, the DC’s I bought in Vientiane still covered in Greenway paint, left before I did last night. It was a crowded night, but I still don’t get it really, why you have to steal someone’s worn down footwear…

I’m falling into a new daily routine: wake up, grab my swimming gear to go to Bias Tugal (white sand) to have Pari’s banana pancake with honey and choco sprinkles for breakfast with a cup of ginger tea, have some swims, tans, games and writing. When the sun sets we walk back to town to grab a shower. I have dinner at Martini, check out the live music, enjoy the party and go to bed not before midnight.

This afternoon Koming takes me to visit another friend Fab, my sis-in-law who’s parents had a house here, told me to go see, Ketut. She was in Holland to study, which is how they met.
She lives 3 minutes walking from Sunshine bar, so Koming and I meet there at 2pm. Last night he strictly told me not to be late. I am 10 minutes late still, and almost get worried he left already when I don’t see him right away. Then I see him driving over from afar. ‘Late’ is a different concept here I suppose, even when the date is very specif. Another reason this place is perfect for me.

He still needs to have breakfast so we go to warung Sinar, where he sits me down at a table and walks into the kitchen to cook himself some.
While he’s eating we overhear a taxidriver making a date with a customer by telephone in funny Engrish, and he’s the one that starts laughing. He tells me how, when he just started working in Kuta and learning English, he saw tourists taking photos of the menu and asked them why and has been very cautious about Engrish since then.

We get on his scooter to drive ‘all the way’ to Ketuts. She’s a sweet woman with little Laura hiding behind her and even littler Theo on her arms, welcoming me with a broad smile. She tells me I don’t look Dutch at all; she’d have said Australian, and I take it as a compliment.
We talk a bit about Fab and my travels and then she and Koming chat away in Bahasa Bali for an hour or so, every now and then translating into English to explain or ask me something. I just sit there taking it all in.
Another big courtyard with many houses connected to it, with many kids and chickens running around it and playing in between the bananatrees. It’s nice to be right in the middle of the local life like this. I’d be even better if I understood the language though!
Each house has a large porch where everyone is sitting, talking, folding the little ceremonial baskets or doing other housechores. Ketut has some birdcages hanging around hers, a bench and a table standing on it, and some timber lying around.
The woodwork on her doors and windows looks new and some of it is beautifully carved. The house is mainly build up of concrete. The entrance room I’m looking into is tiled and looks pretty empty with just a table and a plastic gardenchair in it. And the roosters are still crowing. They do so 24/7 around here.

Less than two weeks and I’ll be back at where it says my home is. But to be honest, after three and a half years of halflife in The Hague where I studied, half a year of living in France, two months of staying with my parents and three months of living out of a backpack and on crappy matrasses in a wordly state of mind…
Well, home is where the heart is, and mine was stolen by Asia.
It’s true what that girl in A Map For Saturday says: you get used to the lack of toilet paper -though it took me 2 months- and it’s true what the guy says: your backpack becomes your home.
20.000 rupiah or 8.000 riel becomes a lot of money: it’s a good meal, half an accommodation or a large beer. Back home 2 bucks is next to nothing.
But other than that it doesn’t really mean much. Your belongings just become more crap for you to be carrying around on your back. Even the gifts I’m getting, they’re the only souvenirs I’ve got, but I’d rather just put them in a box and send them home where I’ll give them a place of honour.
The thing most important to me now are my cam and all the memories it holds on that little memorycard; the visual proofs, these written memories in my books and my phone, by way of staying in touch with people, from home and from the road; by way of memory.

I pull out my book a lot to write. And every time people comment, “You’re still writing. That’s so great! I started keeping a dairy but I couldn’t keep up. After a week I didn’t write anything at all anymore.” And still I feel like I’m leaving so much out and doing you short here.

Most people are only passing through, don’t stay long in this hrbour town. But the ones who do are instant friends and it feels like we’re a sort of family. I think that feeling becomes even stronger in this town because the locals are as much friends as the fellow travellers are.
But tonight, none of my family is here, and I’m feeling a little ditched. Again that feeling of loneliness, wondering where ‘everyone’ is…
I even get over my no-Dutch rule when I hear some elder men speaking in flamish on the other end of the table and go over to have a chat.
And then the daundest thing. Another group of Dutch are sitting at that end of the terras and one of them asks me “You’re Merel, right? Do you remember me? From artschool…” I have to think a moment, and it’s dark, but then I recognise Roy with whom I started the same year, be it in different departments. It’s funny how I used to think him handsome and felt a little teenager about him where he sort of ignored me. And now he’s the one making jokes about having stalking me all the way over here; the complete opposit.

It’s funny how long term vs short term memory is working now. ‘Home’ is a long time and far way from me now. As is the trekking near Chiang Mai, but they still feel semi close.
But the day I came to Padangbai is so much closer, yet it feels like I’ve been here forever.

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