Wednesday, 17 December 2008

...tourist rant

A couple of pub regulars have enquired about my August trip to Bali and Lombok. We went there for a friends wedding but thought we'd stretch it out and see as much of the place as we could. Me, Q and a good friend of ours thus Jetstarred our way to Denpasar, and us being seasoned backpakers in our past lives, we thought we'd relive the old days and just wing it. No bookings, no idea. None of this tour group stuff for us, I mean what's the point of being treated like sheep?

What's the point of going abroad if you're just another tourist carted around in buses surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Sydney and London in their baseball caps and their singlets and their ipods and their Ralph magazines, complaining about the coffee - "Oh they don't make it properly here, do they, not like at home" and stopping at Balinese handicraft sweatshops selling woodcarved penises and Bintangs and buffalo rendang and two veg and sitting in their bikinis and sarongs squirting Banana Boat all over their puffy, raw, swollen, purulent flesh 'cos they "overdid it on the first day." And being herded into endless Hotel Miramars and Bellvueses and Continentales with their modern international luxury roomettes and draught Bintang and swimming pools full of fat German businessmen pretending they're acrobats forming pyramids and frightening the children and barging into queues and if you're not at your table spot on 7pm you miss the bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item on the menu of International Cuisine, and every Thursday night the hotel has a bloody cabaret in the bar, featuring a tiny, emaciated local with nine-inch hips and some bloated tart with her hair all beaded presenting Traditional dancing for Foreigners. And then some adenoidal receptionists from Camberwell with blindingly white legs and diarrhoea trying to pick up beefy, short smiling 16 year old waiters called Wayan and in the evening there's an excursion to the local temple to buy Monkey bananas and melted ice cream and bloody Bintang and one evening you visit the so called local restaurant with local colour and atmosphere and you sit next to a party from Lilydale who keep singing Khe Sanh and complaining about the food - "It's too spicy isn't it?" and you get cornered by some drunken skinhead tradie from Bacchus Marsh with fake Dr. Scholl sandals, a Bintang singlet and last Tuesday's Herald-Sun and he drones on and on about how Mr. Howard should be running this country and how many languages Kevin Rudd can speak and then he throws up all over the mango daquiris. And sending postcards of places they don't realise they haven't even visited to "All of youse. Sunny but too humid and air-con not cold enough. Food very spicy but we've found a charming little local place hidden away in the back alleys where they serve Bintang and do an awesome chicken parma and the guitarist plays "Downunder!"

Or spending four days on the tarmac at Sydney airport on a five-day package tour with nothing to eat but Gloria Jeans Muffins and you can't even get a drink of Bintang because you're still in Australia and the bloody airport bar closes every time you're thirsty and there's nowhere to sleep except behind the outdoor ashtray and you can't sleep anyway because kids are crying and vomiting and breaking the plastic pot plants and Arsehole Airlines keep telling you it'll only be another hour although your plane is still in Iceland and has to take some Swedes to Yugoslavia before it can load you up at 3 a.m. in the bloody morning, so you sit there jet engines running till 6pm because of "a maintenence issue", which is code for "jaded airline engineers have walked of the job again"and nobody can go to the toilet until you take off at 8pm, and when you get to Denpasar airport everybody's swallowing "enterovioform" and queuing for the toilets and queuing for the armed immigration officers, and queuing for the bloody bus that isn't there to take you to the hotel that hasn't yet finished being built. And when you finally get to the half-built ruin called the Bali Paradiso by paying half your holiday money to a licensed bandit in a taxi you find there's no water in the pool, there's no water in the taps, there's no water in the shitter and there's only a 3-legged gecko in the shower. And half the rooms are double booked and you can't sleep anyway because of the permanent twenty-four-hour drilling of the foundations of the hotel next door and the blaring television in the lobby showing Indonesian Idol #96 and you're plagued by appalling trainee legal clerks from South Yarra pretending to be hippies, and mortgage brokers wives busy buying identical holiday villas in mangrove swamp development plots just like Beacon Cove just in case the Liberals get in again, and puffy wannabe surfer girls from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with sloppy-buttocks and Hawaiian -patterned sarongs looking for any male, tanned spanish tourist who can keep it up long enough when they finally let it all flop out. And the Bali Tourist Board promises you that the recent outbreak of birdflu is merely a mild case of Bali Belly, like the previous outbreak of Bali Belly in 1660 which killed half London and decimated Europe and meanwhile the bloody Police are busy arresting drunken sixteen-year-olds for kissing in the streets and shooting anyone with bad dreadlocks or who looks like they may have once had a toke on a joint. And then on the last day in the Denpasar airport lounge everyone's comparing sunburns and blurry, swollen tattoos, drinking Bintangs, buying cartons of duty free Benson & Hedges and using up their last 50,000 rupiah on horrid dolls in Indonesian National costume and awful alcohol related "humorous" fridge magnets and stubby holders and little, plastic custom surfboards with things on it like "Rod Stevens of Narre Warren got shit-faced in Kuta, Bali" and signed pictures of the Shapelle Corby, and everybody's talking about coming back next year because they didn't get enough time to do any shopping and you swear you never will again as you tumble, pale as a ghost and bleary-eyed out of a tourist-tight antique Indonesian airplane...

I seem to have gone a bit off the point here. But I'm glad to say that because we didn't go with a tour and tried to stay away from the crowds it wasn't like that at all and indeed it was much, much better. And here are some pictures...






Apologies to Eric Idle

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6 Comments:

At 18 December 2008 at 19:11 , Blogger kiki said...

did you eat those cows man?

 
At 19 December 2008 at 22:44 , Blogger meva said...

Well, blow me down and call me an overblown sunburnt drunken receptionist from Lilydale, but that sounds like a hellovaholiday.

Having said that, those cows look a little confined. Are they battery cows? Now I'm a sad drunken and possibly sunburnt and broken hearted receptionist from Noble Park and there's very little sadder than that!

 
At 20 December 2008 at 19:08 , Blogger Kath Lockett said...

Wow, at first I thought you'd channelled Miles McClagan from Yung's Programme Notes but upped the angry ante, then found to my relief that you *did* actually have a good time and put in some pictures.

....had me going there for a while though.

 
At 22 December 2008 at 13:16 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

kiki & meva- I didn't eat these cows. These are either working cows or bound for Java. Balinese don't get into beef, but I may of nibbled one of their legs. Are you a vegetarian?

KL - I borrowed this rant from a Monty Python sketch (thus the apologies to Eric Idle) about Spanish tours, but I changed some of the words to apply to Bali and Oz. Not much detail about the actual holiday, though I can say I enjoyed Bali more than Lombok which surprised me, and if your ever in Ubud, stay at the Dewwangga Bungalows and take a mountain bike tour down the volcano. Highlight of the trip, probably becasue it involved three hours of downhill rolling through rice paddies, spice gardens, ancient temples and rural villagers, where every child runs out for a high five as you cruise by.

 
At 22 December 2008 at 18:37 , Blogger Kath Lockett said...

I'll pass your advice on to my little brother and family, who are spending a month in a friends house (house swapping) in Sanur, Bali.

 
At 13 January 2009 at 09:08 , Blogger Melba said...

Oooh, where exactly is that picture of the beach hut? The top one...

 

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