Day LXXV – JUNE 01, 2012

I’m waiting for Koming. We’d go to Tirta Gangga, he’d pick me up at 11.30. But we both overslept. When I called him half an hour ago –well after 1pm- I woke him up with the same shock I’d just woken up with.
I realize we’re never going to make it; he would have to be back at Sunshine to open at 5pm.
But I am completely fine with just doing another day of the exact same I have these past weeks here: going to whitesands, hang out at the warung, playing cards or frisbee, jump in the waves. It still brings enough excitement and diversity every day not to ‘like’ to come back but to WANT to. I could easily do this for a month or so more.

I’m still a little wobbly when I see Koming turning up next door at Ozone Cafe. I fear the wobbly feeling might have something to do with bad arak last night… He calls me over to have a beer first. “Good breakfast, haha!” Doesn’t sit too well with me though.
It’s already 3pm when we get on his bike, but 40 minutes later he parks his bike at Tirta Gangga.
You know I like to get a little crazy in traffic myself, but he’s got me clenching a few times; out of excitement of course! And he laughs at me as I do. He promised he’ll be extra safe with me on the back, but still it must’ve been the fasted I’d gone in all of Asia.
ttgg rice
It‘s quite cloudy and cool up here, and the temple complex is much smaller than I expected it to be. There are 4 ponds filled with huge koi-fish that Koming feeds and I take pictures of, and a lot of beautiful statues and fountains. Agains the side of the hill some increadibly magestic ancient trees climb up that would take over 10 men to encircle them. They must have been here since the dawn of time.
We sit down at the farthest temple where it’s quiet to get some peace looking out over the temple and the valley. A good way to spend the last day with a very good friend.
Check Flickr for more pictures.

It’s funny how walking up there and back again the retailers keep throwing “You need cool drink, massage, guide, transport?” at us. Jokingly I reply: “Terima kasih, tidak, saya suda punya transportasi.” – No thanks, I already have a ride.

Then we sit at a warung where the food is bad, the view is good, we laugh at the menu and he tells me his war-stories of Kuta.

ttggHe didn’t know the places there, had only been just once himself. We look at one, but he doesn’t like it so we cross the street. It’s a cute place, but when the food comes it’s so disappointing he sends it back to the kitchen. Still he’s not satisfied with the result, so we hardly eat a thing. ‘Grilled fish’ ment fried fish ans ‘springrolls’ ment vegtable-envelopes, both soaking with grease.
We’d been talking about Engrish before and have some laughs aver this menu, not only at the spelling but also at getting the translations wrong.
I had to ask him about the one on the wall in Sunshine Bar ‘Do you keen for a nice drink?’ “Yeah I know, I still have to change that.” His English is as good as anyones, with a few grammar errors here and there, but no none-native is perfect.
He tells me of his adventures in Kuta where security protects tourists, aka annoying drunken Aussies who are always looking to pick a fight, instead of being fair towards locals. But other local have each others backs. There are some heavy stories there.

When we get on the bike to drive back we pass the other place, the one he dismissed before, and we see them grilling a fish over an honest fire. “Well, shit!”

There is so much more for me to learn about the this island and the local lifestyle and it’s religion and traditions. And there’s so much more I want to see of this tiny town Padangbai.
Last night I sat with one of the guys for a while, and asked him to sing to my phone so I could record their genius version of Land Down Under to get me through the time I’ll be away from here:

I come from Padangbai
don’t forget drink jus avocado
tomorrow go to Gili Meno
in Lombok many mosquito

I expressed being sad to leave and wanting to come back soon, for longer, and he replied “You say that now, but in a few weeks you’re going to be stuck in your job again back home and you’re going to forget all about us. Believe me. You’re tourist #10.039 to say this.” And I believe him at that.
But I am decided to prove him wrong. I told him I will be back to find a job and stay.
Wawa of course, I realize that too.
But plenty of expats have landed here in this lovely little town and run successful businesses or are happy freelancing for a few months or years.

And then it’s here; time to say goodbye for the last time. The longest goodbye, it’s ridiculous. And somehow we made it again sampai pagi.

Day LXXIV – MAI 31, 2012

120531 dogpile 2
For the first time ever do I go out snorkelling. And my god, what have I missed?! I can’t believe how ignorant I was about everything down there. Finding Nemo is so accurate! All the colours, shapes, in coral as well as fish. Wow!
My friend even saw a shark. Good thing I think I didn’t know that was what he was signing, as I don’t understand underwater language and only found out after we were back on shore. I would have been shit scared and it would surely have come after me.

My last days are here and I’m at the point where I can start my lists, and when it comes to town and locals this place is by far #1, leaving all the others far behind!

I’m trying not to focus on the going home, and even though I’d love to see my friends, the whole concept of it; stepping back into a daily life of school and living in a house and all that slur, I can’t quite grasp it, even after just being away for so short a period.
Damn, now I’m getting sentimental. I don’t want to leave!

One of my friends has her last night tonight, so we invent a little event to make it special. We call it sampai pagi: we’ll watch the sun set on black sand beach – we don’t actually make it out that far, but the idea was there. Then there’s the bar for some live music, good fun and drinks all night, until we go to the dock to see the sun rise again.
It got to a saying and yell and all. People would be asking what we were talking about and I’d like to explain “You know fullmoon parties, blackmoon, halfmoon, all that crazy shit in Thailand? Well, this is the Padangbai version, from dusk till dawn!”
When at 2am we’re all sort of dozing, I suggest we head over to the bay early and have a wake-up dive. They respond with more enthousiasm I embarked on. So I quickly go to pick up my bikini and say goodbye to Koming who was already asleep on the chairs in the café.
We pay our bill with the boys and clear out their supply of bir.
Wayan, a friend of Tude, who really wants to practice his English, comes with us. He and Carmel decide to guard the shore while Chris, Joe and I go in the shallow bay. I have my bikini, Chris strips to his shorts, but Joe thought it more appropriate to go skinnydipping. The water is so nice and cool at night. But there’s a lot more creeping the dark waters here. I get caught by some evil plants or whatever it was that was trying to take me down to depths, but break loose and get out. I win, bitch!
We move over to the dock for the rest of the night and Chris pulls out Otis Redding to complete the feeling.
Two thousand miles I’ve roamed, just to make this dock my home.

After an hour or so we see a light coming our way, and worry for a second someone might be coming over to tell us we can’t be there. It’s just Tude, who tells us he’s been all up and down the shore looking for us, that little partyanimal.

As I lay back to do some stargazing we somehow end up in a violently playfull doggy pile, and eventually we all fall asleep.
I wake up with Joe tugging my arm again. “It’s here! Come on, get up.” I look up and see an already blue sky turning yellow just over the hill near Blue Lagoon. I look around me and see a few fisher men readying their boates. Many are already out there. It’s 6am and the new day is breaking. We’ve made it, sampai pagi!
After sitting there widnessing it for a while, Joe already chatting away in Bahasa with the fishermen, Tude and Wayan gone and Chris and Carmel still asleep under my sarong, I figure I’d best turn in for a few hours. Koming will be picking me up to go to Tirta Gangga in less than 5 hours. Suddenly the boys turn up and tell us we should get going with the ferries coming over soon.
Tude insist on driving me home, even though it’s light out now, and still no 5 minutes by feet. These silly asians are worse with their bikes than the Dutch are taking our bicycles out for every little distance.

As soon as I see my bed I pass out.
To be awoken again by 10, it’s Wayan with a little hard-to-follow story, but what he’s trying to say is “Come have breakfast with us.” “I’m so sorry but I really need to sleep some more…”

Day LXXIII – MAI 30, 2012

Bali is a very religious place. Almost every day there is a ceremony going on in one of the town’s temples.
This time it’s a big one though, lasting for 3 days. The town is flooded with people from all over the island. The warungs are all packed and there’s more happy chatter and music even then normal.
They all come to bring offerings to this temple, dressed up in their finest attire. The temple’s been dressed up with brightly coloured cloths and decorations and flags and bells.
My American brothers have been attending since 7am this morning. The show starts much earlier, around 4am.
But I relax at the beach before going. In the afternoon I go home to change in a long sleeve and putting a sarong around my waist. It’s make do, wrapping a simple scarf around my middle and putting a flower I found in the street in my hair that miss Pari showed me to tie. Nowhere near as pretty as the locals, but the all nod at me approvingly.
In the courtyard I meet Nyoman who ushers me in to the temple. She tries to explain when to take which flower and what to do when a priest comes handing out rice or splash water. But I don’t understand what’s being said in the prayers, so still feel much the outsider. Very cool to see it from the inside though!
Later there’s a danceperformance by the cutest little girls, covered in a thick layer of make-up and golder sarongs. And then the Baron dance; a big hairy creature and something about keeping bad spirits out.
In our (semi) traditional clothing with the rice still stuck to our foreheads where the priest put it, we go for dinner in a small warung on the big road out of the town center. From the counter we pick out some nasi, chicken and tempeh and sit by the single table in the little dinning area between the many figurines and masks hanging on the walls and stalled out.
So on the road, parked in one town, your group of friends, you ‘everybody’ is changing daily. Every day someone leaves for a new destination or home, sometimes with goodbyes, sometimes they’re just gone. And every day someone new shows up, joins for a drink and instantly becomes part of ‘everybody’. So I’m not sure if ‘group’ is the right word.
There are no criteria, even uncool people who wouldn’t be accepted nack home because they’re too loud or make bad jokes all the time can join for a few days, as long as they stay in line.
I’ve made friends with here, for example, who I wouldn’t have hung out with back home. This one girl: she’s sweet but very big on the party party, unlike me. I wouldn’t have bothered to befriend her, she just wouldn’t be my type. But here she’s my friend.
And in this particular town it’s much of the locals aswell. They like to befriend travelers who can tell them more about the world; just like anybody.

Back to zero

It’s like this. In a way you go back to survival mode.
It starts with the easy things like you only have those few clothes you brought with you and you live day by day, not knowing where you’ll be tomorrow, not knowing who you’ll meet tonight.
By taking everything step by step, day by day like this, you go back to basic.

Worries over money the way we know them in the west become nil. As long as you have a hot plate and a bed to sleep in for tonight, tomorrow, there’s no worries.
Everything will work out. Opportunities will present themselves. Life will unfold in that magical way it has.

And every time I talk about this it comes back to the same story.
In the western world, the ‘home life’ as I know it, we’re brought up to look out for ourselves and better our own lives, if need be over other peoples backs, therefore teaching ourselves a way of tunnel-vision life, concerned only with ourselves, all the time consumed by our smartphones and tablets to work towards a better future, failing to see what is happening around us.
We’re taught to think ahead. Think about your future. As a young kid you have to decide which profession you will pursue and put everything in your power to making that happen, and be successful in it too. Otherwise in the eyes of our society you will have failed.
Find a good job, earn a good salary, have a pretty house filled with fancy stuff. Own a bigger car then your neighbor, all that.
But is that really what brings happiness?

Here in Asia everybody lives outside, everyone is open and friendly with each other. And everyone is here to help each other out.
Here, it’s not about making money, it’s about making a living, and making it a happy one. And that friends, family, sharing laughs, food and drinks is much more important than stuff seems to go without saying.

I am straying from the traveler path, having found a true love and deciding to build a life here.
But I am still learning a more simple life. And it has much more to do with taking it one day at a time. Slowing down to a more healthy pace, living in this moment.
I’m still learning to adapt every day. About culture, how to use my hands when eating, how to use the bathroom. It’s still a long adventurous way ahead of me and I will never understand Bali ways the way my children will. But I’m learning.

Fight Club is one of my favorite stories. Because of quotes like this:
The stuff you own ends up owning you.
Why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is?
Advertising has us working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.
It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.
On a long enough timeline, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.

So, homework assignment:
Forget about your stuff, the job you go back to next Monday, and live this weekend like it’s your last. Enjoy your coffee like it’s you’re first, scramble your eggs like there’s a gun to your head, and spend today like it’s your last. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Enjoy! Today, this moment; it’s the best one in you’ll ever have.
winnie pooh wisdom quote

Day LXXII – MAI 29, 2012

I actually manage to sleep in today and wake up with Gede gently poking at me feet to wake me at noon when he was supposed to pick me up. We we’re going to go to Tirta Gangga.
But it’s been storming so hard, the streets are still flooded. So he’s here to tell me we can’t go today, we’ll go tomorrow. “And I see you in white sand beach later maybe? But first you sleep more and get better now. You don’t look good.”

This town really isn’t too good for your physical health.
Very good for the mental though. Doesn’t matter when or where, there’s acoustic guitars singing in the wind, often accompanied by jambés. Every night one of the bars has live music for the audience, always requesting them to join in. It’s like a reggae town without marihuana. And every single traveller who’s spend more than one night here is absolutely in love with it.

A little surprise from France comes in to save the day. After 8 months they finally rembourse the 80€ they owed me.
Time to move to a real room with walls and things! I take the whole day to arrange a room at Kembar Inn -a simple concrete box with a double bed and my own bathroom with cold shower for 80.000rph a night- and say goodbye to Topi’s crappy dorm.

Today is the first time since the day I got here that I was in the town center during traffic hour. I’m so surprised by the amount of people coming through! Low season, but still the streets are packed. And you see nothing of them on the beach. Symptoms of a harbour town I suppose.

I get to the beach by 4pm and take a little time to write and process the heavy happenings.
When I walk over to Gede by 6pm he tells me he’s been waiting for me all day and offers me a ride home. On the way he asks if he can use my shower, because his is broken. I guess that’s ok ..?
I ask him if there’s an entrance fee for Tirta Gangga, but he doesn’t understand my question and tells me “You don’t have to pay me, maybe just 20 for petrol…” No of course I’m not paying you, you invited me? So this is getting weird.

When we get to Kembar who do I see walking up the street but Joe and this girl. I jump off the bike and run over to him all dramatically.
“You ARE here still? I thought you guys had left town?!” And he’s being all casual about it. “We’re having drinks at the place around the corner, Chris and the Aussie granddad and Karmel are there. Come join us if you want…”

When I show Gede to my shower he asks me to join him and proudly shows me he’s got a condom. Luckily I find an excuse in the water being turned off, and get him out of my room.
I don’t think I’d like to go anywhere with him anymore. So I tell him any future plans are off. “So I want to go home now ya?” Kthnxbye!

Before we get to the serious drinking I go by Martinis to have some dinner and sit by myself some more and reflect.
I was so convinced Chris and Joe, my American brothers, had left, and I’d been feeling a little lost myself. Maybe that’s why I let myself be swept away by Gede and got into shit I never wanted to get into. But what was I thinking, naïve little buleh girl…
When I tell Koming of the disappointing experience I had he offers to take me to Tirta Gangga instead. Truly a good friend.

Eventually everyone finds their seat at Sunshine Bar once more, and after sharing a jug of gingertea for the fluish thing everybody’s been suffering we fight it with stronger messures like arak and pull out the guitars to sing the night away behind closed doors to keep rain out and noise in. For a real afterparty feel.
And everything is good again. This has to be the best night ever. This is the exact and only place I want and need to be. Bagus!