KUTA BEACH, Indonesia // Everyone is selling you something in Bali. “Massage? Yesss.” // “$5 Everything, Yesss.” // “Boss, you want motobike? Yesss.” // “Taxi? Yesss.” // “Marijuana? Yesss.” // “Beach chair? Yesss.” // “Surfboard? Yesss,” said Jay and for the first time all day someone asked us the right question. “Yes, how much?”. “50K for one hour," Jay says smiling. We negotiated him down to 150K for two hours for two boards. Everything is always negotiable. It never hurts to ask for a cheaper rate.
We had brought the bare minimum with us to the beach as we had to leave it on shore unattended when we went in the water. Adam had a few bills in the zip pocket of his swim shorts and we left shoes and our clothes on the shore. Jay offered to watch these for us. When we came back our stuff was neatly stored in a crate out of the sand and he and his friends were jamming in the shade. “Beer? Yesss.” This guy asked all the right questions. Bintang Radler beer has a lemon twist to it and hits the spot after swallowing half the ocean. We end up hanging with them for a few hours until sunset. Yan plays the guitar, and Mo is great on the drum though they all take turns with each instrument. Everyone sings along and it's a great beach vibe. We pay our bill with soggy dollars from Adam's swim shorts, say goodbye, and tell them we will see them tomorrow. They smile and wave but I don’t think they believe we will be back.
We are greeted the next day with laughter, pointing, and high fives. It's nice to have a little beach community. We decide to take turns today with the surfboard since after 45 minutes I'm toast and need a rest. So now one of us stays with the stuff, so we decided to bring it all: books, sunscreen, ukulele, journals, postcards, portable speaker. Yan is first to recognize the instrument and I ask if he plays. He takes it from me and is amazing. I don’t know why I am surprised, but now with a ukulele, guitar, and drum, the band is filling out nicely. That night we bought a small tambourine and ping pong size maracas to fill in the band even more!
While, Adam is surfing Yan turns to me and says, “You speak good English”. Haha I laugh and tell him, "I hope so, its the only language I know how to speak". We go into my background and he laughs. He thought I was some Indian mix and gets an even bigger kick knowing I’m Filipino as we have the same nose as the Sumatrans. I guess it's good I'm looking more local than foreign these days, or at least we're not looking American at all. We spend all week with these guys.
In fact, there are no Americans in Bali. This is the first time Andy has met one, and even the Aussie sitting near us turns and says, “Oh, Americans,” when she hears my accent, “welcome back, you guys have been gone for decades”. I guess after the 2002 bombing that killed 200 people at a Bali night club Americans have been reluctant to come back. We are actually a few blocks from the memorial that now stands in the middle of the street, but with all the bustle of the city going on its hard to believe it even happened. My question to the world is simple, “Bali? Yesss."