Old Faces, New Places: Day 33

I sleep in until 11 am and miss breakfast. No matter. I can eat out anywhere. I grab the phone and check messages. I haven’t heard back from Emily yet. I’ve google the wine festival and it starts at 4 pm. I have in my mind something like a country fair in England, for some reason – some stalls where you can sample cider or whatnot. I know it won’t be like that, but that’s the picture I have in my mind.

I’ve no particular plan today. I ride the bike back to the town, get breakfast and then walk around. I’m noticing again that the battery drains quite quickly on the phone. The weekend market is on at the Love Anchor market so I have a quick look. Besides the stalls that are already there at the back there are some jewellery stalls and people selling T-shirts. I’m there for a couple of minutes before continuing my walk. I want to get some steps in before lunch.

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I head down Batu Bolong and I step down onto the beach. Since I’ve got the iPhone with me and not the main camera I try a couple of shots of the Hindu shrine on the beach. The camera isn’t that great. I know the specs are old, but on closer inspection it looks like the phone has had a bit of a bad repair job – the hole in the screen for the front camera doesn’t seem to align quite rightly. Not to worry too much – it’s just a few days, right?

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I go back to the hotel. It’s about 2 pm. I get a coffee and charge up the phone. For some reason it wasn’t charging on the battery bank. The bank itself, to be fair, is just a cheap freebie, so maybe that’s not working that well. I plug it into the wall and nothing. No buzz, not charging signal. Hmm.

I’ve only got about 35% now. I’m not panicking but I’m starting to wonder if I bought a dud phone. She did say she would buy it back from me and the receipt says I have a two-month warranty. Can I be bothered to go all the way back to the store and have it out? I wonder if the charging port is damaged. I google it, and some people say dust and lint in the port can stop the Lightning connector from making contact. In this case a toothpick is a great way to clean out the port.

I don’t have a toothpick, nor anything narrow to use to clean it out with a lint-free cloth, which is another suggestion. Then it comes to me. I brought a notebook and a couple of pens and pencils, so I dig around in my bag and get a pencil. The tip is sharp enough still to wrap a bit of the cloth around it and try to clean out the port. Although there’s nothing to be seen on the cloth afterwards, the next time I try to charge the phone it works – both from the wall and from the battery bank. Nice one!

Emily has messaged me back. She’ll let me know more details later. I ask what time. I also get a message from my mother. Sadly, her sister, my aunt Jill, has passed away from an illness. I download Facebook Messenger on my phone and offer to give her a call later.

Since I’m waiting around and I don’t have much in mind I head down to the hotel’s reception. There’s a coffee shop there so I get a drink and I post up some blog entries here. My plan was to do this every day but I ran out of storage space and the internet hasn’t been great where I’ve stayed. I upgrade my plan and put some posts up before chatting with my mum. The sound quality isn’t great, but that could because the Wi-Fi is weak.

Emily suggests meeting at Hank’s pizza in Seminyak. I google it and it’s right by Seminyak Square. I walked past it yesterday, so I know where to go. She suggests 7 or 7.30. I know I will have to find a car and the traffic will be bad so I aim to get myself ready to leave by 6.30.

I walk up to the centre. No cars at the moment. I see a taxi head down to Old Man’s, so I wait for it come back up the street. Nothing comes. I walk up a bit further, checking behind me every few seconds. A taxi comes. The driver says no metre and asks for 100,000. I paid that yesterday from Tanah Lot to Seminyak so I shut the door and walk away. He drives off.

I wait another 15 minutes or so. No sign of another taxi. I should probably have just got in that one. It’s only a couple of dollars more but it’s the principle, I guess. I walk further up the street. A taxi passes me. Damn, I wasn’t checking behind me. A couple of hundred metres up the road it pulls in. I keep walking but it pulls out again and moves off but just a couple of seconds later pulls in again. The interior light comes on and I see people paying, so I hurry up and hang around. These girls in the taxi take forever to pay. It feels like ages. I hope the driver doesn’t just drive away. Once the first girl gets out I make a move. “I’m gonna steal your car,” I say. She looks at me but says nothing.

The driver is on the phone but agrees to take me. After yesterday’s ride through the back roads I’m just assuming he’s going to take me through the shortcut. I mean, the more passengers a driver gets, the more money he makes, right? Nope, he sails right past the shortcut, meaning he’s going to take me all the way up to the main road and we’re going to sit in traffic. I start to get pissed off. Why can’t you just take a taxi and be done with it, I’m thinking. That’s one thing I’m missing about Korea.

The traffic isn’t so bad, at least not until we get towards North Kuta (I’m following him on the map now I have my phone). The driver pulls a shrug and in a beaten-sounding voice goes, “Oh, traffic, boss” in an “Oh, what can we do” kind of way. “Well, you should have taken the shortcut,” I snap. I draw out the way we’re going compared with the shortcut route with my finger in the air. He knows he’s been rumbled, and I’ve let it out now so I don’t feel as pissed off, but I’m still a bit moody for the rest of the drive.

Its 7.30 or so now. We crawl past a traffic light and we get to the Sunset Road. After the traffic yesterday I tell him I’ll get out at the top of the road down to Seminyak Square and walk. The fare is 73,000 and I make sure I get my change. No tip for this guy.

I stomp down the street to Hank’s. Actually, for a Saturday night the traffic is light. There’s barely any cars and it’s not as crowded as it was yesterday. I get to Hank’s and I make my way up the stairs, since it’s on the second floor. I’m standing in the doorway but I only see one table near the door and Em’s not there. I’m looking around for a second when I hear, “Daaaaan!”

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Em’s with the party at the table. I haven’t seen her since around 2010. Although we never worked together in Korea, she replaced me in my first job so we had mutual friends the whole time she was in Korea and we’d been on trips together with those friends years ago. It’s nice to catch up. She’s with her colleagues from her school and they’re all heading to the wine festival. If it’s anything like last year it should be a good night. I tell them my story about the fast boat and everyone has their own horrendous stories to tell. There are pretty much no safety standards in Indonesia, and people have actually died or been severely injured on these boats in the past. One boat sank in 2010 and in 2015 the outboard motor of one of the boats exploded and someone lost both their feet. I resolve to never take a fast boat again if ever I come back to Indonesia.

When we get the bill we pose for pictures – if you post a pic to Instagram and tag it with Hank’s Pizza you get a free shot. I post it anyway – the quality is crap cos it’s from the iPhone 5 – thinking I’ll get my free shot and then delete it, but I keep it on anyway. I enjoy the decor in the restaurant – it’s all pop art-style paintings of rock stars, and the pizzas are all named after them. I get the Hendrix – meat and rocket – and enjoy it.

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VIN+ is the venue for the festival. Everyone’s got a scooter, so I hop on the back of Em’s bike and we ride round the corner past Ku De Ta. The road seems familiar – I’m just telling Em that I’m sure this is the road at the end of the alley from my villa when we go past the Mini Mart I used to go to and I know it’s the one. Ten seconds later we’re at VIN+, which was not there two years ago. Things have changed quickly here.

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The wine festival is in full swing. It’s about 10 pm now and it will continue until 2 am. There is a large open courtyard outside and a DJ booth has been set up in the middle. We buy coupons – each one is 50,000 IDR and can be exchanged for a glass of wine or food or whatever is on sale. I get four and decide to see how it goes after that. Em’s friend Amanda, another girl I once knew in Korea a few years ago, appears and we catch up briefly. She’s been here a while and suggests we ask for samples before buying a glass or bottle. Em and I mooch around the stalls and first get a sample of champagne. The staff member hands me a large sample first, which, being a gentleman, I pass over to Em. The next sample, which presumably was being poured for Em, is much smaller. This happens a few times throughout the night.

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After the champagne there are samples of vodka, white wine, sake and even Korean soju. Em says that good wine is hard to come by in Bali; the government puts a huge duty on it, so it is expensive here. When I go to buy a glass of wine several of the sellers try to upsell a bottle, but I don’t wish to pay $30 or $40 for one. At the Castillo del Diablo stand the seller proudly tells me that there is a special price of 300,000 IDR (around $30) for tonight’s event; the usual price is 450,000 IDR (around $45). I tell him that where I live I can pick it up for just 100,000 IDR (around $10) and just take a glass.

We mingle and talk and I catch up some more with Emily and Amanda. They ask about Korea and I tell them I’m thinking of bringing my time there to an end. I think about all the people I know how have left and have gone on to other places and who seem to be doing just fine. I don’t feel any emotional attachment to the place – I’m there because I have a job in which I work 12 hours a week and get 20 weeks a year paid vacation, but it does feel like enough to fulfill me any more. Amanda says she was so scared to leave, but once she made the jump (first to Thailand, and then to Bali) she’s never looked back. For me, I’m not scared to take the leap, but it’s reassuring to verbalise what I have been feeling.

Soon performances start. There are several drums lined up to the side of the DJ stage and some Indonesian women in traditional costume appear and perform. The drums are covered in water and the lights illuminate the splashes in bright colours. An Indonesian man performs to cheesy rock music and pulls audience members over to the drums to play alongside him. A DJ comes on and the open space outside becomes a dance floor. A large Balinese Hindu dragon appears and dances around. The music incorporates the a cappella chants of the traditional Kecak fire dancing and the crowd raises their hands and chants along. The booze is kicking in and I’m getting a buzz on, and although the DJ starts off playing the same old songs that I’ve been hearing all summer long I am enjoying myself immensely.

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More wine gets drunk. By this time a lot of sellers are running low. The Australian chiraz I liked has run out. I head back to the Castillo stand. A woman gives me a free glass from the bottle she has bought for herself, which is kind of her. I contemplate getting a bottle of soju, but it’s fifteen times the price it would be in Korea. I’m loose enough to bob a little on the dance floor, especially when a couple of old 90s old school dance tunes come on. Everyone’s drunk and having a good time and I am glad I came along, especially as it is the last weekend of my vacation.

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Around 1.30 people get ready to leave. Em and her boyfriend are going to head back. There is talk of them riding me all the way to Canggu on the bike but a taxi is fine. There is a line of cars waiting outside. Em’s boyfriend negotiates me a ride for 150,000, which is half of what I was told to expect to pay when I discussed transport with Kim a few nights ago. I’ve got a few more days so Em and I talk about meeting up again on Monday or Tuesday for happy hour.

The ride back to Canggu doesn’t take long. Seminyak and Canggu kind of overlap each other these days, and there is not much traffic at this time of the morning. We go through the dark rice fields. I’ve got my phone with me so I distract myself with a few messages and we soon get to the centre. I realise I need to go to a convenience store to get cigarettes and the driver agrees to take me up to the Circle K at the end of the road – about 2 km away, as I recall from following the map and directing the driver from Padang Bai. He was friendly and chatty and he honours the 150,000 Em’s boyfriend negotiated for me without trying to demand more or change the price. I see he has a packet of smokes in the door pocket so I get him a pack as his tip.

It’s about 2 am. I get him to stop in the centre as it will be easier for him to get back and I walk along the road to the hotel. A cafe is still open and I fancy one more drink, so I get a small Bintang and sit on the step outside, reflecting on my final Saturday night of the trip.

It’s 2.30 am when I crawl into bed, buzzed and happy. I’m sure I’ll be feeling a bit rough tomorrow, but I think that’s a small price to pay.

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