Do Not Play ‘Hotel California’: Day 27

I sleep in late and I miss the breakfast time. Never mind – there are plenty of places for me to go and eat, so I slip out and walk down to the boat station and up the east side of the island. I’m pretty hungry now, and I soon stop in at Chill Out Bungalows, which are close to Turtle Beach. They have a bakery that I’ve seen, and I fancy a croissant. I order that with a black coffee and scrambled eggs on toast. When it comes, the croissant is huge and the toast is thick and the slices enormous. The bread tastes really good – I miss good bread in Korea. The waiter drops a bill on my table as I eat and I don’t check it. A few minutes later he asks if he can take it away. I’m confused. I open it and find he’s brought me someone else’s change. He is apologetic and we laugh about it. When I ask for my bill I ask if he’s made sure to bring the right one.

I don’t have much of a plan today. I decide I will walk at least to the north part of the island to get some steps in. It is another scorching hot day, and as I thought I was only going to eat I didn’t bring anything with me – no bag or hat, and no sunscreen just yet. I worry that I will burn as I am walking around, and I try to stick to as much shade as I can.

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I’ve started to notice more and more the interior part of the island as I walk past. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the ring of hotels around the exterior of the island and the village that is in the middle. It’s like a real, working village that has been encircled by this tourist sanctuary.

When I get to the north of the island I’m thirsty and I decide to sit at a bungalow and get some juice. There’s a day bed that’s empty and I hop up onto it and get some apple juice. I feel rested as I sit and watch the blue water. There is nothing to distract me – no phone, no need to ask for Wi-Fi, no book or anything. It’s interesting to see people lying on the beach still pecking at phones and staring at screens. I’m not feeling at all worried about not having a phone, to be honest. It’s quite nice to be disconnected and to be able to sit and take everything in.

It’s getting close to lunch time, and I need to get back and brush my teeth, since I haven’t done that yet. I continue along the beach and make my way back to the boat station. What I do need to do is look into getting off the island and over to Flores. This is kind of the main reason that I wanted to come to Indonesia, and I have been putting it off. I’m sure that I will be able to get flights there and back. I have been thinking about the boat trip – I read a lot of blogs about it before booking my trip – and it doesn’t really appeal as much as it did before. Basically, it is a liveaboard boat on which around 25 people sleep as it makes its way over to Flores, but I’m not sure I can handle being forced to spend three days with a rowdy group. I feel like I’m getting much more insular as I get older.

I make my way back to the boat station and turn into the road where I can collect my laundry. I thought I would have six or seven kilos but it’s only four, so I pay 100,000 for it. It’s all nicely folded and ironed and smells really nice. As I walk down the street I see a guy staring at me from the Eazy Wareong restaurant, which I think is weird. I drop the bag in the room and head to the bathroom and then see why I might have been stared at – instead of my usual black t-shirt, I have worn the only blue one I brought with me, and I have sweated all down the front of it – I have that large V-shape coming from the neck line that you see in movies and on TV.

I change and try to look for flights. Unfortunately, the hotel’s Wi-Fi only gives me 15 minutes of browsing time and I have to keep logging in. It’s also very slow, so I can barely get any information about flights before having to log in again. I seems like I might have to get to Bali before I can fly to Labuan Bajo in Flores. I decide I will go and talk to some travel agents.

I find one near Breadelicious. They are nice and they set about searching for flights for me. My return flight to Korea is on the 23rd, so I need to be back in Bali at least by the 22nd. The problem is, all the flights look sold out. I can get the boat over to Flores, but I might not be able to get back from Flores in time. I start to think that maybe I will just have to have a week in Bali, or maybe try somewhere like Java or Sumatra. Trouble is, it’s high season and flights to everywhere are more expensive than usual or sold out. The agent calls someone he knows – sometimes, he says, flights are held by agents for a short time so if they keep checking something becomes available and they can grab it. I leave it with them and say I will come back in a little bit.

I mull it over as I walk back to the hotel. I’ve been to Bali three times before, so I’m not sure if I want to do another week there. Where would I stay? I’ve stayed in the three main areas before. Maybe I can change my flight and head back to Korea earlier? I mean, I’ve lost my bank card and my phone is on the blink. Perhaps I should leave the next weekend, allowing me a couple of nights in Bali. When I call Malaysia Airlines via Skype, however, they tell me I would have to pay 3,885,000 IDR for the extra balance, which is more than the 3,300,000 I paid on a super saver ticket. I guess I’m gonna have to go back to Bali, then.

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It’s getting close to sunset time now. I haven’t achieved much today in the end. Sunset is becoming the highlight of the day for me. I gather my stuff and head out at around 5 o’clock. This is the time I said I would go back to the travel agent. He said they are open until 9, but when I get there the doors are closed, so I keep walking. It’s not looking like I will get to Flores anyway.

I want to try sunset from a new area again. I figure I will try it from somewhere near Scratch, so I head up the road that goes to the north of the island, through the countryside and back up to where the road comes out at Legend’s. In the end, I pass Scratch and find a place that is closer to where Shady Lane emerges. I have only really passed by this area in the day time, but I soon see a bar that has bean bags out on the sand and I pick one in the front row so as not to have anything obscuring me.

Another beautiful sunset happens. Although there are more clouds tonight, the beauty of the sunsets never fails to amaze me. I love the way the shallow water reflects the sun as it descends and I love seeing the silhouettes of the people and the boats.

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To my right is a stage and on it a couple of Indonesian guys are tuning guitars. One has long hair and chain smokes and the other has a Vietnamese conical hat jammed onto his bulging afro. He reminds me a little of Slash, if Slash wore Vietnamese conical hats. Most bars around the island have live performers each night, and most of them sing the same types of songs. If they ask for any requests, I think, I’m definitely going to request that they do not play Hotel California cos I hate that song and hear it all the time on beaches in Asia.

I’m drinking slower than usual today. I decide to look at the menu. Behind me at a table is a British guy who is joined by two dead northern British girls. He is talking about the high turnover of media sales staff in London and the girls are talking about how hot it is in Indonesia. It’s quite strange to be in the presence of other Brits again. It’s getting much darker and I can’t get the attention of the waiting staff. The Brits order their food and the guy asks about anything having peanuts in it as he has a severe allergy. Eventually I get the waiter’s attention and order spinach and ricotta ravioli.

The band is still tuning up. Lights flicker on the stage, which is to my right but facing several tables and day beds behind me. They’re fluorescent lights and change to green, purple, red and blue every few seconds. The British guy goes the the bathroom and when he comes back he says he double-checked in the kitchen about peanuts and they were saying something about spinach ravioli and that’s not what he ordered and I hope my dinner doesn’t get cancelled or mucked up.

Luckily, it’s fine. The food is actually really good. I love ravioli but rarely find it in Italian restaurants in Korea. The band has started playing and my heart sinks because the first few chords sound like Hotel California, but when the song starts I realise that they’re singing Angie by the Rolling Stones. This song always takes me back to my first time in Bali, back in 2006 when I went there with eight coworkers from my first school in Korea and we had dinner on the beach in Jimburan. There a band would roam around the beach and you paid them to sing a song if they knew your request. We never paid, but several people did and I heard Angie a lot.

They’re pretty good singers, and they try to talk with the audience and interact with them. They say that if you have a request you can write it down and give it to then. I think about asking them for Waiting in Vain, another song which takes be back to Christmas 2006 in Boracay. We get Stairway to Heaven, You’re Beautiful and Yellow. I nip to the toilet and when I come back they are between songs so I ask them if they can play Waiting in Vain. The singer calls it Waiting in Pain, and when he introduces the song and sings it he sings vain as pain the whole way through.

Once they’ve played the song I drink up my beer and head back down the coast to the boat station. I think about trying Shady Lane but when I get there it is so dark that I don’t try it because I don’t have my phone with me and can’t use the torch to light my way. I walk past the Ombak hotel complex, which has an outdoor cinema on the beach which has just started to play The Terminal, which I’ve never seen, and I think about watching it but I don’t feel like drinking anything else at the moment. It’s amusing to see that almost every bean bag has been taken and almost every occupant is lying back staring at their phone instead of watching the movie.

Breadalicious it is, then. I get my usual Lombok coffee and I try the tiramasu this time, which is kind of dry and not all that sweet, disappointingly. Never mind. I get my book out and I read for a couple of hours. People pass through and wander in and out getting sandwiches or desserts to take out, and several who stay ask for the Wi-Fi password. I’m getting into this book now and I get through a good few chapters. I will soon be at the end of it.

By 10.30 I’m ready to go and lie in bed. I think I will read another chapter, but in the end I’m too lazy to do so and I curl up and go to bed.

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