stories from bali

Hamid met us right at the airport. It was the first time we had ever met each other. We had been introduced by his friend Husin, who was introduced by my friend Anthy from Brandeis. Unfortunately, the day before we flew out from Boston, Husin emailed me saying he was stuck in Java, and that on top of that, he was sick. Great.

We landed in Bali and immediately called up Hamid. Well, not immediately…the country code for Indonesia is +62, but the number we were given started with “08”. After like five tries, we ended up getting a TEXT on Lisbeth’s international phone (lawl $0.40/text, $4/minute back to the U.S.) from Hamid: “hello bro i am waiting outside in the pickup with a sign that says max”.

LAWL OOPS. We called him up, but his English seemed to be too poor (turned out his English was fine! He was just shy, and not confident in his speech) to understand that we had to 1. get visas 2. get through immigration 3. hit up customs. An HOUR later, we waded through the crowd of taxi drivers and tour guides (taksi? TAKSI????) to find a dark, skinny fellow with skinnier jeans and gold-streaked hair. I hugged him immediately, apologizing profusely for making him wait so long, but he would have none of it. “We need taxi?” he inquired tentatively, pointing at our three bags each. I nodded. “Yeah, should we find one?”

“Mm, I find. You stay,” Hamid replied, putting a reassuring hand on my shoulder. I towered over him and the rest of the Balinese men, my 6’1″ build eclipsing Hamid’s 5’6″ ish frame. However, in this country, we were truly at the mercy of the locals and of our wallets. We could easily have hired a tour guide from among the many, many men crowded there. But then we would have paid hundreds of dollars a day perhaps for the fancy beach hotel, tourist trap food, and the cost of rip-off taxis.

Instead, Hamid introduced me to Iwayan. He was a cheery fellow with very limited English, but enthusiastically helped us load up his stick-shift Chevorlet sedan. Hamid suggested Jesen’s Inn I, one of three hotels (I, II, and III–original, I know) in the same area. They featured hot AND cold water (omgosh), western toilets, and air conditioning. AIR CONDITIONING. And it wasn’t going to be insanely expensive, either.

We made it through the horrendous Balinese traffic, convinced we would be killed at any moment by the insane driving of Iwayan and his fellow taxi drivers. Jesen’s Inn turned out to be just 400,000 Rp. a night for two beds, a slightly-functional fridge, A/C, shower, and western toilet. Plus, we got 15% off at the restaurant and pub downstairs! WOOHOO.

oh hai Hamid

our friend Rosli

After dropping off our bags in our room and LOCKING the door behind us (*shifty glance*), we went off to lunch on the beach with Iwayan and Hamid. We ordered ten bottles of water and…all that effing food you see in the picture. And it was all delicious. Fjfkd;sajfaf. The rest of the day was spent walking on the beach, learning about Bali from Hamid, and eating an amazing dinner (washed down with DAT BINTANG…MMMM MM) at the hotel’s restaurant. Hamid’s boss–yep, he worked at a tailor/clothing store just across the street from the hotel–even dropped by to say hi. Rosli. And HE had amazing English, plus a smile that could charm the wings off of a butterfly. No wonder half of the restaurant knew him by name and had already ordered tailored suits and jackets from him, lawl.

We passed out by 9pm, full of good food, happy from the good company, and exhausted from the jet lag. Welcome to the other side of the world.


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