Soooo about this late post…. I enjoyed myself a bit too much Sunday night as it was my last night in town. I arrived home around 6am (no official closing time for bars in Bali) and hopped on a flight to Melbourne, Australia that afternoon. After sleeping until 1pm (it’s another 3 hour time difference) and working today, I finally have a chance to sit down and write about this last week.
It was pretty mellowed out with the kids as Theo was sick for the whole week and Eleanor went down with the same symptoms starting Thursday afternoon. Fever, sinus pressure, cough, etc. We only made one trip out of the house early in the week so Eleanor could burn off some of her energy at Discovery Mall’s indoor playground. Our Uber driver on the way home was awesome as he answered all my questions about Bali culture/customs/rules! He spent two years in Grand Rapids, Michigan and one year in Vancouver so his English was very easy to understand. Here are all the things I learned during our hour long drive:
- There is a lack of safety equipment/precautions on construction sites because they care more about convenience and saving money than their own lives
- Adults are required to wear helmets on scooters. Children are not.
- When a car flashes their lights at me in an intersection, it means I can go. When they flash their lights as I’m driving head on in their lane, it means I need to get over because they are coming through
- If you are caught dealing drugs, you are sentenced to the death penalty. There is no electric chair here so it’s execution style. They take the death row inmates to Central Java island for the execution. His exact words, “It’s the Indonesian version of Alcatraz”. Well that’s a bit aggressive! If you are convicted of murder, you’ll serve years in prison, but you won’t be on death row. Their sentencing seems a bit backwards.
- Only 900 out of 17,000+ islands of Indonesia are inhabited. Each island has their own language which they use when speaking to other natives. So a person from Bali will speak to another native of Bali in Balinese but will speak Indonesian to a native of Java.
- Rules don’t apply to scooters… unless there is a cop around
- There are two driving philosophies: whoever hits, it’s their fault and whoever is the bravest has the right of way. I figured that one out pretty quick. As long as I didn’t hesitate in an intersection, I was through unscathed.
- Gas comes in Absolut Vodka bottles because they are the highest quality of bottles. Unfortunately, he didn’t know if the gas stations partner with bars to get the bottles or if there is a specific supplier for them.
Eleanor made a pretty big accomplishment! I was sitting on the edge of the pool’s deep end with my feet in the water as Eleanor was swimming. She got out of the pool, walked over, and said she wanted sit next to me. A few minutes later, she stood up, put her toes over the edge, and starting leaning over. Let her fall in. She’ll learn. Then she jumped in, (cue the tears) turned around, (here they come, 3, 2, 1…) and with the biggest smile on her face said, “I jumped in just like you!” Well alright then! My daily asking if she wants to jump into the pool must have finally wore her down. After that, all she wanted to do was jump into the pool, climb back out, and do it again. I told ya you’d enjoy it. Two hours later, she was finally done swimming.
Once you get past the sales pitches (Bike? Bike? No. Taxi? No. Maybe tomorrow? Nope. Where you going? I give you good price.), the locals are legit! Some of their life stories will blow you away (one guy moved out when he was 12 and began working on a different island than his family). I learned more of the Indonesian language from sitting on the beach talking to the same group of “beach boys” than I did with Thai. That’s probably what I will miss the most of Bali… sitting on the beach with some beers, watching the sunset, and shooting the breeze with the boys.
As with Thailand, not a lot happened during our last week in Bali as we prepared to head out so here’s my list of things I learned in Bali:
– The driving is much more chaotic here. However, as long as you don’t hesitate, then you’re fine
– Gas is sold in Absolute Vodka bottles on the side of the street
– It’s humid here. Very, very humid
– When crossing the street, cars will only stop for you if you put your hand out. Otherwise, be prepared to get hit.
– Your pee will turn purple after eating the Purple Haze variety of dragon fruit. Do not be alarmed.
– Drugs are everywhere
– A loud honk from a taxi means it’s available. A short, quick honk from any vehicle means get out of the way. Two short honks means someone is passing you.
– While the exact number is up for debate, Indonesia has between 13,000 and 18,607 islands
– The closer to the beach you get, the more aggressive the salespeople are
– Indonesians have long names (i.e. Etha’s full name is Merry Martina Margaretha Bey). Every time I would say my name is Laura, the locals would always respond with, “Number 2?” because they wanted to know my second name… and third name…
– Bali traffic is ridiculous. It’s the NYC of Indonesia. It would take me over an hour to go 10km in a car. No wonder everyone drives scooters…. You can weave in and out of traffic, drive on sidewalks, and drive the wrong way down one way street. No sitting around for scooters!
– Indonesians can’t pronounce the “th” sound. So Theo became Tee-O and birthday came out as burstday.
– When Indonesians speak English, it’s very Australian in terms of their words (“Hey mate!”, “Pardon”, “Alright”, etc.). However, sometimes their accent is Indonesian and other times it’s Australian. I could be talking to the same person for 30 minutes and their accent will back and forth between the two. I think the more comfortable the speaker is with the word, the more Australian of an accent comes out
– Scooter drivers do whatever they want
– Indonesians drop their money on drinking/going out and cigarettes/drugs but they skimp by with their living quarters. An apartment consists of one room that is only big enough for a queen bed and small dresser. There is a communal bathroom located on the premises with a squatting toilet but no sprayer (no sure how they clean themselves). I’m not entirely sure what they do about kitchens unless they eat street food frequently.
– Directions of certain roads will randomly change for a day or two as they are trying to alleviate the heavy traffic
As I mentioned before, we have arrived in Melbourne, Australia! We are unsure how long we’ll be here and if we’ll visit other cites up their East Coast so for now, I’m soaking up every bit of having my own apartment again!