Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Go to Bali With Three Girlfriends

Be excited. Use the trip as a carrot dangling in the distance during long days of being employed. Pack on the day of flight. Turn up at the abode of your three travel mates, whom you've known for years now. Occasionally wish you lived with them too. Realise you've packed about half the amount of everyone else. Realise you hadn't even thought about showering. Should you have thought about showering? Should soap have been on the list of things to bring? Or a towel? Were you supposed to bring something nice to wear? The others brought nice things. And towels. And soap. Wonder what you've gotten yourself into.

Endure the coldest flight known to man-kind. Attempt to sleep. Fail. Acquire warmth from one of the girls. Together look like the smallest mother with the biggest baby known to man-kind. Land. Get to villa. Crash. Wake up. Wake up ridiculously early because of the time difference. Go back to sleep. This is Holiday after all, and there is no conceivable reason to get out of bed at 7am. Realise you're on holidays from work. Rejoice.

Breakfast at the restaurant nearest your villa with the girls. Eat mie goreng for breakfast, because you can. It's tastier than out of the packet. Funny, that. Protip: Eat mie goreng all the time cause the packet shit won't cut it back home from now on. The waiter is young, and shy, and immediately seems to fall in love with your posse of confident Australian girls. Especially the loud, charismatic blonde.

Walk around the neighbourhood. Walk to the beach. You hate the heat. It's really hot. Swat away a bug, see the tropical trees. Realise you're in Bali. It's hot. It's hot in Bali. This will become increasingly apparent as the days go on. Collectively decide it's too hot for the beach. Lounge by the pool. Spend hours by the pool, making grand plans to ride elephants, go white water rafting, to visit temples and an isolated village. Know full well none of you will muster up the energy to make any of these activities occur. It's the thought that counts though, and you all tried. It's an inevitable failure. I mean, have you seen this pool?

Catch a cab to Seminyak. Pass far more beautiful-looking shops than you'd expected to. Shopping is an activity that most definitely will happen. Walk down the beach. You've never been to this kind of tropical paradise before. Marvel at how blue the sky is, how glorious the water looks. Do this while sweating like a Biggest Loser Contestant on their first day of training.

Cocktails by the beach. A warm buzz under the shade, with three amazing friends. Is it the cocktails talking or do you suddenly want to declare your love for everyone sitting at the table? Inwardly laugh at the ridiculous Sex and the City-ness of the scene. A few years ago you wouldn't have dreamed of being in a scene like this. Congratulations son, on nabbing yourself such good lady company for a week.

Back to the pool.
Reading, writing, at the villa.
Get up late.
Rinse, repeat.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Days are to be filled with lazing by the pool and floating in the pool. Get a massage. Drink some cocktails. Nights are to be filled with cocktails, and more laughter than your stomach can handle. Nights are also to be filled with shared beds, conversations in the dark that devolve into hysterical giggles and a lot of talk of sexy times.

Your table is inevitably That Table at every restaurant you go to, the loud shrieking one filled with four exuberant girls. Walk home from dinner, get caught in a monstrous storm. You and your friends are soaked to the bone. As one, you realise you're all in the perfect setting for the climax of a romantic melodramatic movie.
"I ALWAYS LOVED YOU!" You screech into the night sky.
Alice whirls around, and runs down the road into your outstretched arms.
You're all standing in the middle of a puddle in the middle of the road in the middle of a storm, laughing uncontrollably. Doesn't this sort of thing only happen in cheesy chick flicks? Apparently not. Pro-tip: It can happen in Bali. Glorious.

Realise your travel style is different to that of the girls you're with. Quickly tire of spending every day lazing by the damn pool. What's so interesting about roasting in the sun? Nothing. Nothing's interesting about that roasting in the sun. Why would you want to burn your skin? It's very hot, and very silent business. There's a lot to be said for quiet contemplation, but spending the entire day lying down turning your skin various shades of lobster? No. Consider going to a different town for the day by yourself. Quickly abandon that idea - it's too hot. Why did you agree to come to Bali? Bali is hot. DAMN it's hot.

Your companions have an aversion to hitching rides with anyone that isn't organised by a tour company, or cabs without meters. Be surprised at how irritating you find this. One of the girls talks about how different it is travelling here with other girls as compared to travelling with a guy. Inwardly disagree. Wonder why it matters if the car is or isn't organised by a gringo-ass tour agency. Wonder why it matters if the door is left open at the villa when we're lounging outside. Wonder why it's always such an ordeal making sure everyone pays the correct amount at dinner. Wonder all these things, and so wander off during one afternoon. Sit in a dirty dive bar nursing a beer, writing and people-watching. THIS is more like it.

Have such a good time with your companions upon returning that you feel more than a little guilty for growing impatient with them. Everyone's different, after all. Finding that annoying doesn't help anyone. Down some cocktails. Get a massage. Be very naked in front of Jaz. Naked conversations about creatively unfulfilling employment. Next level friendship strengthening maneuvers. Have a romantic dinner for four. The type of dinner that'd cost hundreds in Australia, and would most likely involve a shiny diamond ring. Cocktails. Rinse, repeat.

Get called "Darling" by everyone trying to sell something.
Have the following things shouted at you:
Find that to alternate between "pretty funny" and "very annoying".

This though, is nothing compared to Immy walking down the street in a long, tight blue and white maxi dress. She literally stops traffic.

Decide to head to Kuta, to see what all the fuss is about. Is it really overrun with Australian bogans? Do they all really wear Bintang singlets? Is it really that bad?
The answer to all of these questions is yes.
Whereas Legian had been "quite touristy", Kuta is "pretty much a more humid King Street". The men are sunburnt, sweaty and wasted. The women are on hens nights, and their skin is fire truck red with intermittent white lines.

Watch a group of five or so guys sit across the road from the two huge main clubs, watching predatorily. Be repulsed, yet fascinated. Find yourself feeling this way about most of the scenes you witness in this Australia-away-from-Australia. The horrid clubs, the bangin' club hitz, the fat and sweaty old men leering at you. Have this vague feeling that there's an amazing culture somewhere here that's being violated in some very rude way. Wonder how the Balinese feel about being overrun by awful drunken masses.

Alice baulks at the entrance to Paddy's (one of the two gross, huge clubs in question).
"I am not going in there. It looks awful. NO."
Down some tequila, which none of you ordered. Almost bully Jaz into drinking her shot. The liquid passes Alice's lips and she instantly gags. The dancing begins. Move to one of the clubs. Shitty dubstep, English guys wearing stupid caps and bum-bags. A foam pit. Step into the foam pit wearing socks, and boots. Feel the water engulf your poor, defenseless Dr Martens. Spend the rest of the night squelching while walking. By this stage, even Alice has embraced the trashy, over the top clubby, bogan-y vibe of the night. You're all dancing and laughing, with Immy instantly being oggled by most of the men dancing nearby.

The night wears on, two of the girls go to bed. At this stage, it is important to be one of the remaining two. You don't know it now, but this will lead to major funtimes, bonding between friends, adventures and future hilarious anecdotes of "The Worst Hangover Ever". Make sure not to consider the imminent torture nausea now however, as this is neither the time or the place. The time is nigh for decisions like "I should start drinking whiskey now" or "let's go to that bar, I think it's still open". Some naysayers would dare suggest that "I think that one's still open" is a sign to hit the hay. To them one must always reply, "haters gonna hate". Have one of the most enjoyable nights out in recorded history of McConaugheys.

Suddenly and elatedly realise as you're dancing (read: flailing, jumping) with your charismatic blonde friend that you've learned a hell of a lot about the lady you probably had the least strong emotional connection with. The past week though, you've come to see how interesting, witty, intelligent and kind she is. What an amazing lady. She even holds your hair back while you chunder into the villa's toilet. So much love.

Spend the next day intermittently tapping out in order to purge. Make sure to be sarcastic in between nauseous silence. According to your friends you were quite graceful given the circumstances. Be surprised at this. You're all kind of worse for wear. Silent dinner of fish on the beach. Silences are okay. This is a sign of a winning posse; hungover, irritated silences ain't no thang.

Your final days together are spent at Cocoon, a very swanky and very five-star restaurant. The restaurant also comes with a crystal-clear pool, and towels. DIDN'T NEED TO BRING A TOWEL AFTER ALL. Feel a couple of rungs below the requisite amount of graceful and classy to be there. No matter. Feel like yelling "SWAG!" every so often. Roast in the sun. Eat way too much. Eat bacon for breakfast. Get extra bacon. More coffee. More pool. Suddenly realise it's almost time to return home. Realise you haven't been this relaxed in a really, really long time. You all seem to realise the imminent return to the real world at the same time. The end hurtles at you all too quickly.

Next thing you know you're back at the airport, sitting on the cold ground reading airport books for what feels like hours. Suddenly get paranoid about getting caught with illicit substances. Imagine getting framed. Imagine spending your days in jail. Knowing your luck, it could happen. All clear. All clear to get back onto the freezing plane. Wear almost all of your clothes in order to stay warm. Your socks are still wet. Somehow manage to get to sleep, with Alice curled around you. Next thing you know, you're landing in Melbourne with a stiff neck and a sinking feeling that must be coming from the fact that Monday's mere hours away. Wonder why holidays need end. Curse the monotony of everyday life, and the way it makes the excellent times seem so so good. Feel incredibly close to the three girls. Also look forward to being alone. Almost regard the week that just occurred with an element of disbelief. Were you actually just in Bali, spending all those hours lazing by a pool? The most relaxed you'd been in months, the most you'd laughed in such a long time. That just happened. Laughter to the point of choking. You managed to feel comfortable enough to open up about things you previously had said nary a word to anyone about. Everyone sharing long stories filled with sighs. Long stories filled with victory, or yet more laughter. That shit was cathartic, that shit was the kind of shit that doesn't often come around. Ridiculous. So much love for the girls. Lots and lots of love for your lady-bros. Lady-bros. Remember having a late-night revelation over dinner and yelling, "YOU GUYS ARE MY BROS. YOU LADIES ARE MY LADY BROS. I FUCKING LOVE YOU."
Be immensely glad you've got them in your life.
Be glad you don't live with them.

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