Had a very interesting time today, as it was the first time I got to watch someone else have a miserable time travelling.
I’ve had this day, on more than one occasion. Frankly my entire stay in X’ian and Guilin pretty much fuse into one giant ball of misery in my head – you can’t really be a traveller without that one truly lousy country in your resume. Today I got to watch Bali become that place for a fellow traveller.
The original plan was to hire a car today. However, since it’s just after Nyepi, there’s a lot of ceremonies and traffic, so we’ve been warned against it. Plus, most of the group are ridiculously hung over and nowhere near capable of getting up early. Instead, Ollie, Eddie, Jo and I decided to head out to a waffle cafe I spotted during the Ogoh-Ogoh parade, and then go surfing again. Following us was another traveller who Ollie and Eddie had befriended over the last 2 days as well. He was in the same dorm as me, and had already had a bad time of it since arriving. He’d only arrived on the 20th, and like me had been unaware of Nyepi. As such he’d been caught out by closing ATM’s and getting trapped inside the hostel for a whole day. The first night he was there, someone had spilled coconut oil on his bed and he’d come in to find a complete stranger lying on it and using his charge. The previous evening, after having to wait 3 1/2 hours for his food, he’d had an unfortunate incident in which he’d pushed his chair back and knocked a table down a step, cracking the marble stone worktop in half.
Thankfully, his luck seemed to be improving this afternoon, as the Flapjack House actually had really good (if expensive) food. My waffle was a monster the size of a dinner plate, while those who had the breakfasts cleaned their plates.
For surfing, we decided to go looking for the guy we’d hired boards from the first time as we’d already set out a price and he was reliable enough to leave our bags with. Jo wasn’t surfing but instead just went into the water with the rest of us, while the new guy was suspicious of his board – it had clearly been repaired in the past, but when he mentioned it to the owner, he merely slapped it and insisted it was a good board, so off he went.
This was a completely different situation from the last time. Time wise, we were a lot closer to high tide, and the sky was threatening to rain. Today, the waves were huge and constant, unlike our first shot where even the largest wave was something we could handle, now it was a constant struggle to get our boards past waist deep water. I lost count of how many times my board was carried off by the waves while I struggled behind it. They were just too strong for us learners to figure out.
When I spotted everyone else heading out of the water, I didn’t want to follow, but was worried something had gone wrong and went to check. Turned out everyone was catching their breathe and getting tired due to the size of the waves. Before anyone could decide to go back in though, we spotted the new guy coming back…
…With his board snapped down the middle.
What followed was a pretty awful argument in the middle of a rainy beach. The owner of the boards insisted that the traveller pay for the board to be repaired. Normally I would agree that he’s completely right – however, this was a board that had been repaired before, and of all the boards that had gone out in the rough waters, it was the one that said traveller had been suspicious of in the first place. New guy argues that the owner never said he’d have to pay if it broke (which is true – he told us yesterday and neglected to do it today, so probably forgot that new guy wouldn’t know) and if he’d known he’d have insisted on a board that hadn’t been broken before.
This kept going on for about 10 minutes, before the owners started threatening to get the police involved. No way do we want police getting involved in this – and don’t think the new guy realises how bad that would be, so we start intervening. The final result is new guy agreeing to pay half the expected price for repair – and Jo giving the owner the other half (new guy agreed to half without realising this, and did eventually give the extra half back to Jo that evening). It ended up being around 20 pounds, which in reality isn’t that much money, but I think it was the principle of the thing that was agonising the new guy.
After this, none of us really wanted to go surfing again – the memory was soured – so despite having only been out for about 40 minutes we headed back to our hostels (Ollie, Eddie and Jo had all booked into Kayun Hostel as it was cheaper, while I wasn’t really in the mood to switch hotels again) to have to free time before we met for dinner.
Get the feeling new guy hates Bali. Can’t say I blame him as a lot of things have gone wrong for him here, but he’s also new to travelling and clearly not getting the idea of it. He’s rather appalled at how the hostel runs (perfectly standard hostel rules so guessing he hasn’t stayed in many) and seems upset or frustrated and things the hostel does/doesn’t do that I actually think are great (only 3 people in a 20 bed dorm after Nyepi wouldn’t normally be considered a good thing, and although we don’t have a tour desk, there are at least 20 on the street, its not really required). He decided to go somewhere else tonight so he can drink, while the rest of us ended up in the alley street we’d had lunch on after surfing the last time.
Unfortunately, even less places are open this time, and rather than a street cafe we end up on the opposite side of the street at a restaurant. It promises several different types of food, including Indonesian so the others decide to give their curry a try, while I go for Tom Yum Soup (which is Thai, but found very easily in Bali). Also risk green tea, only to be bitterly disappointed as it comes from a packet and is completely undrinkable.
We head into town, and immediately head for the Expresso Bar again for the live music. We still have an hour to wait, but get to enjoy the bar when its quiet and actually have a conversation. I however bow out a lot earlier than everyone else as I have to get up a little bit earlier than everyone else to meet them at the hostel in order to rent the car tomorrow. Finally I’ll get to see Ubud!