I was getting depressed thinking about all the billion and one things I’m going to miss about Bali; dragon fruit, Kadek, friends, Margaritas delivered to my door (both the pizza and the tequila variety), the mango and banana and papaya trees in the garden, the offerings to Ganesha, the hazy smell of incense, the sun, the sound of roosters, $10 massages, chocolate caramel slices, the magic, the sun (did I mention that already)… so I decided to focus on the things that I’m NOT going to miss about Bali instead. This, I thought, might motivate me to get out of bed in the mornings and pack.
- The Taxi Taxi dudes
I just walked out my house and about 100 meters up the road. In this brief walk I was asked not once, not twice, but five times ‘Taxi?’ by different men sitting on the ground along the route – all of them doing the requisite mime of hands on a steering wheel just in case I didn’t understand the word Taxi. On my way back the same men asked the same question again.
I estimate in the last five years I’ve been asked ‘Taxi?’ about five million times. My molars have cracks in them.
I get it, I really do. They want work. They see a westerner walking and they can’t not ask the question. What really bothers me is when they watch me park my car, get out of my car, lock my car, and then say to me; ‘Taxi?’ It’s almost as if they know how much it riles me and they’re all involved in a conspiracy to break me.
- The way anytime someone comes to fix something it ends up more broken.
Wifi, toilets, plumbing, electrics… you name it. Every time I’ve tried to get something fixed here it’s ended up even more broken than it was in the first place. Our landlady just arranged for a water tower to be built next to the house. I didn’t see the need and argued with her but she went ahead and did it anyway.
Alula just came rushing in: ‘Mummy, mummy you have to come and see this awesome thing,’ she cried. ‘This AWESOMELY UGLY thing…’
The men have come to erect the water tower. Two weeks later and we have no water tower but we do have this shallow hole filled with water in what was once our pretty back garden.
We also have NO running water because while digging the hole the men dug through the water pipe. Thanks. Thanks for that.
- The internet
The internet is so slow here that if you were researching an article say about the moon it would actually take less time to build a rocket single-handed, launch it from your back garden, fly to the moon, carry out your research and fly home again, than it would to wait for the Wikipedia moon page to load.
This leads to what I call tab-rage where, in an ever-growing frenzy of frustration as you wait for your page to load, you open another tab, then another, then another, until your computer is buckling under the sheer weight of open tabs and you flick in manic delirium between them all, your adrenaline peaking at ‘a serial killer is chasing you’ levels.
I think the internet is one of the reasons I am so stressed in Bali.
- The whistle guys
These are the men who blow their whistles while making wild, jerking arm movements to indicate to you which way to turn the steering wheel when you are parking – yes, thank you, I know how to drive! They also stand in the road to ostensibly hold the traffic up so you can pull out safely. The problem with this is that NO ONE TAKES ANY NOTICE WHATSOEVER of the whistle guys, everyone just keeps speeding past their out-flung, whistle-holding hands.
It’s a rookie mistake to trust the whistle guy. If you do you will inevitably kill someone or be killed.
- The bliss ninnies
The uber-spiritual clique in Ubud are slowly chipping away at my will to live. Yesterday I had to sit in a cafe and listen to two people talk about colonics and fasting and their inner journeys and I wanted to go and buy a Macdonalds and eat it in front of them then take an enema tube and stick it where the sun don’t shine… but there is no Macdonalds in town, only raw food restaurants, and on the second point they already do that to themselves willingly, so I’m thwarted yet again.
- The crazy price of wine
This is the first thing people here say to me when they find out I’m leaving. ‘Think of all the wine you can drink back in Europe! Think of the wine!’ and their eyes go a little glazed and they get this dreamy, faraway look on their faces.
It’s true. Here it costs $40 for a bottle that I know costs less than $8 in a supermarket back home. Even the local ‘wine’ here (I’m not sure the UK’s trading standards people would allow such a moniker for what is essentially grape-flavoured window de-icer) – costs $18 in the supermarket. So yes, I’m looking forward to the wine. Cue dreamy face.
- The sound of buzz saws
Buzz saws, chain saws, tile cutters. These are the ubiquitous sounds of Bali these days, drowning out the crickets, roosters and dogs. It’s up there with the neighbour’s screaming tantric sound sessions that used to daily pierce my eardrums as the noise most likely to push me over the edge and into Kathy Bates from Misery territory or Michael Douglas from Falling Down.
I’m looking forward to not living in a construction zone.