This weekend I wanted to check out the public transportation and attempt bargaining fare again. So Saturday morning I made a plan to travel to Denpasar and around South Bali via Bemo. Succession of events on Saturday:
- Got in the first bemo. Bedulu to Semabaung. Struggled. Tripped over my bag, hair got caught. Embarrassed. Paid 3,000 Rupiah. Good Price.
- Bemo number dua. Semaboung to Batubulan. Paid 15,000. ehh could have been better. Bemo driver really wanted English lessons from me. He insisted we set up a class time.
- Bemo number tiga. Batubulan to Sanor. Paid 10,000. Not too bad. This place is beautiful. Peaceful.
- Watched the fishermen. Sat on some rocks. Read. Saw flowers put into the ocean. Saw offerings. Very happy
- Ate at Luhtu Cafe. Chicken Curry. Cafe ran by older couple from Denmark. Been there for 5 years. Started going there 17 years ago for furniture business. Had a dog, Kinta, who liked to chase after mortified tourists. Hilarious.
- Took Bemo number four to Kuta. Creepy as hell guy. Kept touching my back, leg, trying to kiss me. I screamed at him a few times. Borderline sexual harassment. Very relieved once I arrived in Kuta.
- Walked back and forth. So many tourists. So many bars. So many shops with sellers trying sell things. Overwhelmed.
- Met Donny, Alfredo, and AM
- Got my fingernails painted on the beach. Had two really great conversations. Wayan. David from Australia worked for Nat Geo.
- Ate a salad. Cheese was interesting.
- The Night
I owe it to my high school years of volunteering at the Caldwell County Senior Center for my knack of getting along with older generations. Around 7 pm on my South Bali adventure, I finally went to book a hostel. I caught a ride to the destined location with one of the motorbike guys, AM, who I had met earlier that day. If you speak even a tid bit of Bahasa Indonesian, they eat it up and are entertained for a while. AM, Donny, and Alfredo were sitting by an outdoor vendor shop selling guitars and small souvenirs and also running a transportation service (like every other person who works in Kuta). We had a few laughs and threw a few jokes at each other and I was called “My Honey” from Donny a few more time than I liked, and I totally caved in giving AM 15,000 rupiah for a ride I could have easily walked. The laughs and company were worth it.
I found out that AM was from Sumatra and had moved to Kuta seven years ago because of its relaxed reputation on drinking, religion, etc. He was a practicing Muslim, but said he couldn’t get too rapped into his religion preferring the idea of science. Once we arrived to a hostel I thought would be fun to stay at, it was eerily quite and empty, so I left and walked down the street
Here I found a small bar and once again struck up a conversation because of my slight ability to speak Indonesian. Gil was from Australia and was sitting making friends with his Balinese partner Marnie. They were in their +sixties and curious. We talked about school, Bali, rugby (the Australia v Argentina game was on and everyone in Kuta seemed to have their eyes glued to a TV set that day), and life. The night really got interesting when two more Kiwis and an Irish, Aussie came to join us at the bar. I gathered that these guys Gil, Slash, Bill, and Arthur all come to the Kuta for 1-3 months about three times a year. I guess you could call them the professional tourists of Bali. It seemed to me that, for the most part, they stay in their little area and listen to music and drink day after day-they said it was the best life for them. A crazy bunch. Slash was always rattling off under his breath while no one paid attention to him, Gil proceeded to unbutton most of his shirt, and Bill enjoyed yelling at the other two-Gil for speaking in Indonesian and Slash for not shutting up. Echa, the bartender, and I would glance at each other ever so often and just laugh.
“Oh no, he’s at it again. I can’t take it.”-Bill referring to Gil’s Indonesian
“I’m not your brother, father, or gay partner, so why do I hang out with you?”- Bill
The conversations took a turn when we started talking about Elvis’s dirty underwear and how it hadn’t sold From there it transformed into a talk about religion. Found out Echa, was from East Timor and practiced Christianity. We moved to Hinduism. Comparing it to Disneyland with its praying to ancestors, bamboo, and beautiful offerings. Bill commented, “Walt Disney would be absolutely blown away with it.” “Mickey Mouse doesn’t hold a candle to Hindu offerings,” Slash put in.
We talked about the money/income issue in Bali.
Almost everyone in Bali has a motorbike and a cell phone.
A motorbike costs anywhere from 20-50 mil rupiah (2000-5000 dollars) and a cell phone, because everyone wants a blackberry, costs 2-3 mil rupiah (200-300). On the average, locals make a couple of dollars a day. They don’t save, and most of the businesses in Bali are owned by foreigners. Lending is very easy for Bali locals. Hardly anyone moves away from their home, thus, local banks lend money for the purchase these items and interest is so ridiculous that they get consumed with paying off not only the motorbike and the phone, but also the interest they’ve accrued over time. Women especially suffer because a lot of their time must be spent making offerings and caring for the family instead of working and, of course, their pay is far less than that of men. Slash receives a text message. It’s a local prostitute.
The men spoke candidly of their encounters and relationships with prostitutes. They see one or two while they’re in Bali and the set cost is around 100,000 to 200,000 rupiah (10-20 dollars). In my ignorance, I was stunned. In the text Slash received, the woman said her mother was sick, and she needed the money. They said generally the women are in their mid-thirties, have children, and their husbands have left them. Such a different side of Bali than the one I had been acquainted with in which family, village, and religion are such integral parts of the Balinese Hindu way of life.
Comments from the men on love, women, and prostitution:
“What is love? Love is a game.”
“I flagged it.”
“I was with Ms. New Zealand for 20 years.”
“They think we’re gonna throw lots of money at them.”
“It’s just a game, I suppose.”
“They say their buffalo’s died or a family member’s ill, and we come slowly.”
“Universally, all women want is to be married and looked after, just in the West it’s more subtle than Southeast Asia where they come out and tell you how much.”
12. Woke up at 6 the next day. Wrote this.