Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bali is a Hell Hole

I get to Bali and have little trouble finding the taxi stand and getting to my hotel. It's about 11pm and I figure I'll grab some food and wander around a bit. I don't bother with the Lonely Planet since my hotel is on the edge of the main touristy beach region. I figure it will be easy to find a laid back beach bar and grab some food. I quickly find out otherwise.

Instead of a lively night scene, the area I'm in is just a mix of hotels, resorts, closed-for-the-night tourist shops, and over-priced chain restaurants (sorry Hard Rock, Bali). To make exploring even worse, you can't go 10 feet without being harassed. Every taxi driving past honks. People on mopeds pull over to see if you want a ride. Everyone you pass on the streets cycles through the same set of questions. "Transport?" "Massage?" "Young girl?". In that order b/c obviously the only reason someone would not want to be driven somewhere is b/c they're too busy trying to secure a prostitute and the only reason you'd refuse one is b/c they're too old. I quickly come to hate everyone in Bali and decide I will ask the next taxi driver I manage to approach w/o begin harassed to take me to someplace to find food and people.

I quickly find one (transport is readily available in Bali) and explain that while, of course I would love a massage, and, that, yes, young masseuses truly are the best kind, I really would like some food first. He seems to understand and I ask how far it is and how much it will cost. He asks for 50,000. Seeing as this is what I paid to come from the airport (w/ an exit fee) and that I know I'm not asking to go far, I refuse. Yes, in reality $5 isn't much for a cab, but when it's such an obvious buyers market and the guy was just sitting on the sidewalk begging to drive people around, I don't feel like overpaying some asshole.

I turn and walk away and he chases me down to haggle. I offer 20,000 to take me where there will be food and people. We agree on 30,000. In the cab he starts driving and asks for 50,000 again. I hate him. I tell him we agreed on 30,000. He shows me a video clip of a stripper on his cell phone and says he can take me there. I hate Bali a lot.

After what seems like far too long, we reach an area with people milling about in the streets and loud music blaring. I tell the cabby to stop. Having no smaller bills, I give the cabby 50,000. It angers me that this will likely only further encourage him to be an asshole, but I try about his situation and how he probably doesn't have many opportunities. I feel better imagining that his life sucks and go get a burger from a street vendor.

I stop in a couple of bars and find some drunk Australians. I pass the memorial for the 2002 bombing that killed hundreds of people at a night club and stop in a couple bars with more drunk Australians. After being in Korea and throughout Indonesia, the herds of drunk Australians seem really big. I notice upon standing up, though, that I'm actually taller than most of them. I am reminded of the weird way you start to project what you see around you onto yourself and how it slowly shifts your sense of normalcy. Slowly and subtly, I'm sure my time out of the US is warping my mind. Hopefully not in a terribly bad way.

There is a multileveled bar/dance club that I wander through. The fat old men buying drinks for young looking Indonesian girls saddens me a bit and lessens my anger at the people who harass me on the streets. Other, lone girls ring the outside of the dance areas and are scattered throughout the bar. Stop for a drink or make eye contact and they will come flirt with you. While ordering a beer, I ask one such girl what she does for a job. She smiles and says she's working now. I wish her luck and head out.

The roads are narrow and crammed with cabs. So many people trying to leave and no one getting anywhere. Moped taxis descend like vultures the second you step outside, eager to rush you into the traffic jam. I ponder whether to risk walking when I have only a vague sense of where I am or to fight for to sit in traffic. As I'm debating it starts to rain and I opt for choice C, more beer.

I watch a guy passed out on a bar stool for a while. He begins to tilt, then his body convulses in an effort to regain balance. Each time he comes a little closer to crashing to the floor. It's engrossing. One bartender seems mildly concerned and fetches an older Australian woman to ask about the guy. She doesn't seem to know the drunk, but inform's the bartender that the guy is "fucking wasted" and wanders off.

The bartender then tries to rouse the guy by hitting him in the face. Not slapping him on the cheek, like you'd expect, but more of an open palm to the center of the face. It works to an extent, but instead of leaving, the guy comes close to my spot at the bar. I decide I don't want to be puked on and head out. The rain has stopped, the line for cabs is less crazy. I hop in one and head back to the hotel to sleep.


  1. Wow, good times. Be careful please. -Your Cousin Amanda

  2. I am so disturbed by the proximity between you and very seedy sex workers. I am sure that the taxi driver's life does suck, relatively speaking. When do you stop trolling for prostitutes and start seeing dragons and scuba diving?