I was returning in my final week to Bingin, to revisit my surfing friends, to see a beach with a bit of character and to avoid irritating westerners with sunburn and heatstroke blazing in front of my eyes. I was also going for New Year, where I could see traditional celebrations and then curl up with friends whilst we hang around our resort. The reason for this is because the Balinese have burnt some crepe-paper creations of evil spirits to ward off their bad omens. On the next day everyone hangs in their homes so the spirits trolling the island will believe there is nobody there to haunt and leave for the year. As my friends and I went to the ceremony we were very excited, and, even though it became slightly repetitive and rather confusing (perhaps because my Indonesian wasn’t quite up to scratch) to understand what was going on within the festival. I was naturally rather concerned throughout the ceremony because I knew the next day was the lock in, and I had no food. I had spent a decent two hours desperately trying to find a place open, on foot I might add, around the mostly rural areas all around me on a bank holiday. The roads were obviously rocky and I was seething with bitterness and jealousy watching the people zoom past me on their motorbikes no doubt laughing at the ridiculously frazzled looking, bare-footed westerner walking miles down the road to no avail.
Still, I guess I should obviously be delighted that I wasn’t in Kuta…
On the day of the lock in I had managed to secure a breakfast from the chef, who weirdly starting flirting with me by asking if I were single whilst caressing my thigh and referring to me as a gentleman. Later on I managed to miss lunch without realising it had ended, with the chef bringing me the news with a gleeful smile.
“What, so you mean there is no more food for today, no snacks”
“No” he said with gusto “no more food. Kitchen closed.”
I was devastated, thank God for my friends feeding me nuts that I were a monkey by the temple, I firmly believe I would have starved otherwise. The lock in was spent listening to music and watching music, which was a bonus considering we thought electricity didn’t exist for the day. Having said that, I had decided that the south was too provincial for me and the next day decided to depart for Seminyak. This bought about a lot of stress the next day as I again ended up walking through back alleys with irritating locals looking at me like a cashpoint as they offered wildly ludicrous offers to Seminyak. My mind became embittered in this hour walk to the local cafe, to such an extent that I think I started to lose my mind. I managed to finally get in to a taxi (no more walking along the side of the motorway for me looking like a homeless, albeit stylish, loser) whilst having porridge with pineapple. Who knew such a combination would work. The tea I had whilst negotiating this deal though didn’t work with diabetes-induced spoonfuls of sugar. Just in case you wanted some info about the cuisine.
Arriving in Seminyak with a frazzled mentality, a shock at the rapidly increased heat and business of the area, I tried, in vain, to barter down a decent homestay… but realised early on I were in the wrong place for this. Especially when I received one quote of a million a night for beautiful, but obviously overcharged room. I checked in to the budget hotel, Grandma’s hotel… I didn’t understand the name either and settled in to a bit of Foxtel and a stroll on the beach.
I don’t know what went wrong with the beaches around the Kuta-Seminyak area but this beach was equally dire. As if rubbish strewn across the beach was a normal phenomena. I was shocked, this was meant to be the beautiful part of that area. I had even considered attempting to surf on my final day to see off Bali in style, had the water not looked like it were concealing an oil spill
Still I managed to have a variety of good dishes around the area and even managed to check out a few bars. One in particular were offering specials on rum cocktails, which I went wild for (the MasterCard was firmly back in business by this end point of the trip) before ending up in a variety of slightly seedy clubs in Seminyak strip, with a variety of desperately fake greeters complimenting you to buggery in order that you buy a drink. This clubs were definitely festively decorated with wall to wall of men and women trying to move within the cramped space whilst the drear playlist droned, and when a variety of drag queens (slightly better looking than the child prostitutes of Kuta) steeped out, I decided that an hour and an half of this was quite enough for one evening. And when Whitney Houston steeped up and attempted to make me stay longer I wandered pretty quickly back to Grandma’s. Somehow within this drunken five minutes I managed to fall in to an open drain. Don’t laugh now, it was very painful. Some Balinese taxi drivers, my foe for the whole trip pretty much suggested I visit the Bali medical centre, to which they could take me. Now when my friend got a cut on her foot, the doctor she visited seemed pretty hopeless. In fact it was my friend who was suggesting the medication she needed. And because I was in little doubt the doctors wouldn’t diagnose insulin with a diabetic, I bitterly whined to myself that an open hole in the road should be covered whilst attempting to fix myself up with a DIY medical kit.
For my final day I hung by the beach whilst having an old Balinese woman attempt to befriend me whilst asking if she could keep my ring/towel/book, after I refused to buy her bracelets/offers of massage and drinks from her brother’s cafe. It’s fair to say the Balinese are friendly but some lacked the graces I would expect, particularly this woman basically expecting me to donate my luggage to her ‘business.’ You’ll be pleased to know though we ended on good terms.
And from there, having done these two days solo, I was ready to head back on home to Oz. Bali was a great introduction to Asia, although I left thinking that Asia is a lot of work in certain ways, the constant bartering, the business of Asia, the aggression of certain people. I left thinking I probably wouldn’t be the type of person to send three months holed up in random sections of the far east.