Monday, April 23, 2012
Blogging from Bali
Last day in Bali--Air Asia to Jakarta in 5 hours, then Hanoi on Thursday. Bali was alright for 6 days, clubbing in Kuta, hiked the rice paddies in the foothills of Mount Agung, fires on the beach with poi, and too much arak. But the Balinese are friendly too the point of exasperation, and in tourist traps like Kuta everyone is trying to make a quick buck off the honkies. Walk down the street and you are offered 5000 pairs of rip-off sunglasses, NBA jerseys, tacky jewelry, magic mushrooms, motorcycle rentals.
One day I bought some sate for this Indonesian kid in Kuta, hung out, smoked cigarettes with him, then when I met up with him again back in Kuta he drew a nice sketch for me, signed it "Bali 2012." I thought, gee whiz, what a kind heart, maybe I've made a new friend, only an hour later he told me i hadn't paid him for the drawing yet. I grudgingly gave him a 5,000 RP, about 60 cents U.S. (but also half the price of a cheap dinner), and we didn't talk too much after that. These kids are broke, but so am I, and I don't think any of them have tens of thousands of dollars of college loan debt. I don't mind buying thing, but i miss the unnumerated generosity of American youth. Did make some friends though, who talked to me about politics and independence movements. Some say Independence for Bali, others not so much.
In the rural areas, it is much more pleasant, and every single child says "Hello" in a sing-songy voice when you walked by. It reminded me of the television show Arrested Development, when the Bluth family adopts a Korean kid who always says "Anyong," the Korean word for hello. Thinking this is his name, George Michael and co repeat it back to him--"Hello" "hello," "Hello." You can haggle with the shop owners, and people want to talk to you without selling you anything. Beautiful vistas, and big plates of nasi gorerg for less than a dollar. Plus Hindu temples out the wazoo.
I would probably come back to Bali, but avoid the population centers, filled with dumb Euro girls and Australian bros. I met these two Dutch girls, said they were on a gap year in Bali, had an apartment and everything. I asked them where else I should go on the island, and they said they had not yet left Kuta in 4 months. This would be the equivalent of a foreigner moving to California for pleasure, and spending the entire time within the smog of the San Fernando Valley. There is fun to be had, but it is empty pointless fun, the McDonald's of vacations, with mainstream American club music and watery beer. Pleasant, but I can get the exact same experience on Main Street, Royal Oak, with the same crowd of Greek System idiots wearing tight polo shirts. The hotels are cheap though.