It’s an eerie feeling to go through customs in a third world country borderline drunk. It’s entirely legal, but there looms the same feeling from high school when you worry that a teacher at the football game is going to get a whiff of beer breath and once again report you to the School Resource Officer*
An Australian friend named Kay invited Aaron and myself to come along on her family’s holiday to Bali. I figured there was no better way to celebrate my recent 25th birthday than by visiting my 25th country! Aaron was thrilled to come along as well, but refused to take any more goofy pictures with me.
There was a suspicion that I was being invited solely as entertainment for Kay’s teenage daughters, especially when they uploaded our first photos on Facebook and their friends commented “OMG! WTFF?! You promised he’d be shirtless”**
When not receiving $10 massages at the luxury villa in Canguu beach, Aaron and I escorted the girls shopping and on various random adventures around the little Hindu island oasis locked within the devoutly Muslim country of Indonesia. Our official duties included taking cheeky photos to make the girls’ friends at home jealous… and occasionally beating off the frisky locals who wanted to get themselves a piece of under age white meat.
Leaving my adopted Aussie family behind today was like ripping off an enormous Band-Aid (“Oi, that smarts!”). Even Aaron had gotten so attached that he agreed to get in the family photo. My companion and I decided that the least we can do to show our gratitude is to send a Christmas care package full of American delicacies (Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, etc) that are otherwise unavailable in Australia.
Since Bali is not a destination frequented by many American travelers here goes....
The Hindu’s*** and Don't-s of Bali, Indonesia:
DO get a massage every single day.
DONT ask for a happy ending. Indonesia’s Muslim law mandates that the penalty for such an offense is castration. This is a popular penalty for many crimes, despite the unparalleled number of wooden phalluses for sale at every stall in every tourist market (must be a Hindu thing).
DO go surfing at local breaks such as Kuta or Canguu
DON’T Paddle out if there aren’t any other surfers. Indonesia’s reefs, rocks and rip currents kill more people here than Muslim fundamentalists at tourist nightclubs.
DO make friends with smiling locals.
DON’T tell people that you are an American. This is even more important here than other American-hostile countries like, say, France.
DO check out the beautiful (and ample) local Hindi temples and check out a colorful prayer ceremony.
DON’T point to the six grains of ceremonial rice on the worshippers’ foreheads saying, “Hey brah, you got some shit on your face”
DO visit a local coffee plantation and sample Indonesia’s famous “Cat Poo Coffee” (the most expensive coffee in the world!)
DON’T try to save some money by stalking the wild cats in an attempt to harvest the beans by your self. Just about everything in the jungle here can (and will) kill you.
DO sample local cuisine. I recommend or nasi goreng (rice/beans/egg) or babi guling (suckling baby pig) with a BinTang Beer.
DON’T sample the tap water, unless your idea of a vacation is worshipping the closest porcelain God while the locals laugh and call you “Bali Belly”
DO wash your hands as often as possible, such as after using the toilet.
DON’T sit down on those Asian hole-in-the-ground toilets. It's embarrassing that I even feel the need to tell you people that.
DO take pictures of the many infants driving mopeds to work at the Nike factory.
DON’T try to distract them by flagging your newly purchased Angry Birds sequined towel out the car window.
DO visit the monkey forest.
DON’T forget to bring a clean shirt to change into after the monkeys wipe their slimy unmentionables on your back during the photo-op.
DO haggle at the local markets when buying your BinTang Beer tank-tops, indigenous monkey-hunting blow guns, local spices and (of course) giant wooden penis bottle-openers.
DON’T try to sell your friend’s daughters at the local market.
ALSO DON’T get so carried away while haggling that you end up hitting vendors with your recently acquired giant wooden penis bottle-opener (I’m not allowed back at Kuta Market).
That should cover all you need to know about Bali. It’s definitely a trip worth making. Happy Trails!
*High school was tough for me.
**What does “WTFF” mean? Is it different than WTF? Am I already that old???
***Like what I did there?