Hurricane Rain and Tactical Vomit: Christmas in Bali

My first Christmas away from home was always going to be different. No usual suspects like presents, a Christmas tree, or mum and dad. However nothing could have prepared me for the most random, sickening, unfortunate, but surprisingly satisfying Christmas I’ve ever had, and probably ever will.

It went down in Bali, Indonesia. My sister, our friend and I have been travelling around the island. We decided to head to the beach to swim Christmas day away, so we hopped on our trusty rented scooters and set off.

Two minutes down the busy road a man yelled through his helmet “your wallet fell down!!” I pulled over and sure enough my wallet wasn’t in my pocket anymore. We spent the next half an hour searching the road surface for it, but considering we were in an area where there were kid-beggars it didn’t seem likely. Whoever found it needed the money more than me.

We changed route to the police station so we could call my bank and cancel my cards. After filing a police report I got a big fat NO when I asked for a phone. Come to think of it I don’t know why I thought I’d be looked after, it’s Christmas day and I’m some silly tourist who’s stupidly dropped his wallet. Hardly a priority.

So we press on to search for a phone store. Only thing is it’s now pouring with rain. This ain’t no sprinkle. I mean torrential, violent, flash-flood kind of rain. So our scooter-search for a phone store was sketchy to say the least. We arrive at one unscathed, try shake ourselves dry before entering, and eventually we sorted the cards. No money stolen which was a nice bonus.

We had worked up an appetite by now, but our wild goose chase brought us to a dense, un-touristy part of town. We stopped at a local restaurant; I had no idea what I ordered but I ended up with this rice, seafood, and chicken pile. By chicken I mean chicken bones, some big, some small, all of them sharp and none of them belonging in food. The seafood was these tiny black prawns that looked like they’d been on a shelf for a week or two. It costed $1 so we got what we paid for.

Too hungry to think we downed our attempted meals. While our stomachs thought about digesting, we convinced ourselves it was a bad choice and we’d just given ourselves food poisoning. Whether we did or didn’t we will never know because when we got home, the three of us tactically vomited up our local chicken bone cuisine. It was hard work, but the three of us standing in the garden wrenching was plenty disgusting so we got rid of it all.

We eventually went out to a wonderful restaurant and had a great dinner as we reflected on the strangest Christmas ever. Thing is, out loud it sounds shithouse as, with the lost wallet, torrential rain, and garden vomiting etc. However besides a brief negative moment mourning the loss of my wallet, the rest of the day had this happy-go-lucky adventure vibe to it. It was fun eating at a dodgy restaurant. It was hilarious laughing about how we all just spewed our guts out although we maybe didn’t need to. It goes to show attitude is everything, and Christmas ain’t Christmas until you feel like throwing up.

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Post vomit – eating our Christmas trifle

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The restaurant we eventually ended up at that didn’t almost kill us

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The beach we were supposed to go to for Christmas – we made it to a few days after

 

 

 

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Meth-heads, free tattoos, and drunk scooting: Bali – week one

After just a week in Bali I’ve quickly figured out there are many sides to this diverse island. There’s brochure Bali, with the beach-side cafés, relaxed vibes, and rice paddies. Then there’s fuck-up Bali, a lawless subculture that has seeped into existence, much like the open sewage into the otherwise beautiful beaches.

I call it ‘fuck-up Bali’ because everything seems to be designed to get people to do just that. Bad decisions lurk around every innocent night out, just waiting until you’ve downed enough $1 beers.

For many, the fuck-ups start at a particular bar that attracts a huge number of tattooed, perfectly cooked, (in both the drunk and tanned sense) Australian Instagram models. ‘Taco Tuesday’ is the drawcard because for $10 you get a taco, a beer, and a free tattoo. Not the wet rag type, the needle type.

Since the number of free tats is limited to ten a night, there’s always a massive crowd competing to change their bodies forever. Although I’m sure some in the mosh have thought long and hard about the design they’re about to get, (which is limited to a 20 minute sitting) a number have literally Googled ideas minutes before needle hits skin. My favourites include a unicorn with an ice-cream cone for a horn, a jellyfish with a smiley-face, and a scooter key forever inked on an arm.

Which brings me to the next terrible idea waiting to happen: drunk scooter-riding. With taxis totally and utterly on island time, the long skinny roads are best suited for 150cc death-traps. If you’re safe, stay out of the rain, and are sweet with the ever-flowing pipeline of craziness that is South East Asian traffic, you might be OK. However, no one is here to be OK. We’re here to fuck up.

Well over half the people I’ve met here have fallen off. Some I haven’t met because their injuries were trip-ending. Unfortunately too many of these crashes happen completely drunk. The thought of a sober night out or walking back to where you left your scooter the next day in the blistering humidity is too great a turn-off. Instead we end up a band of brothers, scarred and bruised from a losing battle with the asphalt.

Then there are the drugs. When they sell magic mushrooms literally on the side of the road, it’s no wonder Bali gets the best of some. We had a visit from an infamous American meth-head, who was adamant someone from our hostel had stolen his iPhone charger. He paraded his tastelessly-tattooed frame in front of our movie completely uninvited, and got aggressive when someone politely told him to move. This sparked a near brawl, which wouldn’t have been his first this week.

I almost felt sorry for him as he was escorted off the property by security. But this is also the same guy that threatened to rape my friend just to teach her a lesson. He didn’t and they had lunch together the next day. Honestly I don’t understand this place.

If I manage to leave unscathed whether it be from road rash, free tatts, or meth-brawls, one might wonder if I was ever in Bali. If we travel while we’re young to make mistakes, learn from them, and become better people, consider Bali an escalator to becoming a really great person, because you’re bound to fuck-up eventually.

They leave a lot out of the brochures.

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Sunsets in Bali are easily the best time of day

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The ‘fuck-up’ crowd I’ve become apart of, at skate-bowl/bar/club – Pretty Poison

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View from our first villa – gorgeous rice-paddies are never far away

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The roads are a complete free-for-all