Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Our MEL layover is the price of admission for cheap passage to Bali. Ethel's childhood bestie is getting married there and it's the type of shindig that's not to be missed. When we get off the plane, we're flattened by the heat and humidity, and this is followed in short order by the extortion visa fee at passport control. Minutes beyond this, we are thrust directly into the maelstrom of The Hustle: every two seconds, we're solicited for something or other (ride to town, carry your bags, directions to the ATM, etc etc etc). It's a taste of what we'll experience over the duration of our stay, and it's oppressive. We've got a ride prearranged, and my instinct in cases like this is to act like I belong (and mind my valuables), but that's an impossibility in a place like Indonesia.

When we find our ride, I'm ready to tune out the world in the relative safety of the car. Hahahahaha. Entering the flow of traffic is unlike anything I've ever experienced in many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of miles of driving (I think I'll write more about traffic in Bali later on). Our route takes us down progressively more ridiculous streets until we're finally in a dead-end alley so narrow that the driver must stop at a cutout so that the car doors can open.

Anyhow, we have successfully arrived, in one piece, at the villa we're sharing with 6 other people, so we drop our bags and immediately retreat across the street for a cocktail. Having a 10pm introduction to the madness of Seminyak is amply disorienting...sights, sounds, and smells all make equal assaults.

Anyhow, our villa is lovely and serves as a ready respite from the madness down the alley, around the corner, and in the whirlwind of Seminyak's main drag:

Quite nice!

We've got a few days in Seminyak, and I can't say that I've got much nice to say about it. Between the drunken Aussies, the din of car horns, and the oppressive humidity, the silver linings are few and far between. I count them as discovering an awesome coffee shop, being able to relax in the villa's relative silence, and oh wait that's about it.

Also, I pretty rapidly contract some sort of bug, probably from eating salad or the ice in a drink or something, and enjoy this as my primary view for a couple of days:

Game of Throne

While some of the other places we'll go don't feel as sketchy, Seminyak itself feels -super- sketchy to me, so I usually don't even take the camera with me when we go wandering. In hindsight, I was probably overly cautious, but my general approach when traveling is to be as small of a target as possible.

Beyond the "small target" effort and the "leaky gut" escapade, a fair bit of bandwidth goes toward not dying. Pitfalls are around every corner - they include, but are not limited to: exposed rebar, jagged open drains, rabid dogs, insane drivers, Australians, corrupt police, heat, humidity, carcinogenic plastic smoke, and machetes. As facetious as I may come off, these charming dangers are actually a lot of the fun of traveling. I know that we could, wallets permitting, be whisked off via helicopter to some exclusive resort, but that's not really experiencing a place, is it?


Standard state of disrepair

I take particular notice of this scaffolding right down the alley from our villa. I don't have my camera with me the day prior when it's twice as high and five times as sketchy, but you get the idea.

Totally fine

We do find some nice cafes and whatnot. Unfortunately, I have just recently finished reading Snowing in Bali, and it's hard for me to look at any capital-intensive (and conspicuously empty) restaurant and assume that it's not built on bales of coke.



Deliberate vintage

Ah, whatever. Still a nice spot for breakfast.

Perhaps more noteworthy than these various sources of discomfort is that there's a huge disparity between wages and the cost of all things related to tourism; it feels extremely exploitative towards the Balinese. This is my first time traveling somewhere "dirt cheap," so maybe I'm just extra-attuned to it, but the general theme is that of squalor just over the wall of every four-star resort, and it's quite hard to reconcile. This is another topic that will be a recurrent theme as I take you on a fair and balanced tour of the place :)

While it's unfortunate that Seminyak itself is the lowlight of the trip for me, it does mean that better experiences are in our immediate future!


No comments:

Past Detritus