As our trip progressed, we finally started figuring out the lay of the land. Our home base on Bali for the time being was the city of Kuta, a bustling hub of surfers, tourists, Javanese hawkers selling gasoline in perfume bottles, all night parties with crappy musick, narrow crowded streets, scab-covered dogs, instant gratification, cheap anything, and decorative offerings to the gods. All of these fabulous and exotic things thriving under a plume of raw sewage and diesel exhaust fumes. It is a love/hate relationship we have with this place. After a few nights in a higher priced hotel on the main street of hell, Jalan Legian, we made a serious upgrade to the Masa Inn on Poppies 1. Like many of the hotels there on these funny side streets, the front isn’t that big of a deal but once you go inside the entranceway it is amazing. Nice pool, immaculate rooms, and friendly staff. We had our valuables spread evenly about the entire room in full view. When you turned your back, your bed was made and all your camera gear, tape players etc. were in neat stacks. They should be paying me for this. Anyways, like idiots, we didn’t reserve enough rooms here and let that duty slide. So we find ourselves back on the hot streets looking for somewhere to stay. Finally, we find a place off of Poppies 2 called the Bali Dwipa, right in the middle of the insanity. I believe we were paying $2 US/ night each. From this point we will refer to our new hotel as the Bali ‘Dumpa’.
The room was on the 2nd floor facing some other rooms. The fan barely worked and the room had a fifty-cent pad lock for ‘security’. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but there was nothing from stopping a Javanese thief from cruising up since the ‘front desk’ was across the alley from our entrance. The bed was no longer the firm new mattress featured at the fabulous Masa Inn. Instead it was a foam block in a fabric pouch. My inflatable camping pad came in handy, saving my back from further misery. At night, the mosquitoes would flood into our bathroom through the screen-less window. I would take a t-shirt, dip it in water, and use that as a blanket at night. $2. One day, a guy comes by and says “clean sheet?” Sure! He pulls off the old sheet revealing not one, or even two, but three (3) concentric urine stains on my foam block. I worried that I might have re-animated them with my wet t-shirt pajamas. At night we would go to a nearby restaurant and eat the standard fried food while enjoying a new release on PDVD (Pirated DVD) format. Some clever individual would take a video recorder into a theater and film the movie and burn it on a disk. Sometimes you would see people’s heads moving around. The quality didn’t matter because you could barely hear from all the motorcycles. I watched Star Wars episode 1 this way while it was still in theaters in the US, wowing audiences with special FX and bad acting.
Across the street was the semi-famous Warung 96 restaurant. I don’t care what anyone says, but it is the same damn fried food as anywhere else. We go in there for lunch one day and order some fried food. I get the crappy pizza and Glenn orders the chicken tacos. In the US, one out of three chickens have salmonella. So, if you eat three raw chickens, with out puking immediately, you will puke later for a few days. In Bali, I figure it is one out of one. If you cook the chicken, you will be fine. Simple, right? I avoid chicken because I don’t like the gamble. Time= money and surf. Not worth it. Lynn Laumann had some bad chicken and made himself puke so he didn’t have to process all the poison. Very clever. I brought Floxin with me just in case.
Later, Glenn isn’t feeling well. In fact, he is puking and shi**ing like a geyser. A bald, double-ended geyser. The dry-heaves are impressive at first and then gnarly. His personal volume level is always on ‘11’ and this is no exception. The roaring wretches and heaves echo throughout the building. I go 2 doors down to Ron and Mike’s room for sanctuary but it is just as loud if not louder, since the sound is going out the bathroom window and bouncing between the buildings. I lost count but I believe this went on for 4 days. We made an offer to get him some medicine but he declined. We should have insisted. It is too hot to do anything. The bacteria are destroying his bowels. His bowels are destroying our toilet. The toilet backs up and I go downstairs to get someone with a plunger, popular in the US and other developed nations. A guy comes up with no plunger, so I wasn’t sure he understood me when I said I had a problem with our ‘kamar kecil’. Glenn moves out of the bathroom for a few moments so the maintenance man can have a look. After surveying the situation, faster than the eye could follow, he rolls up his pant leg and starts plunging the toilet with his bare foot! My jaw hits the floor with a thud. He is whistling a happy song as he plunges the filth. But it isn’t happy enough. Why are there no pictures or video, I don’t know. He leaves and returns with a 2 x 4 wrapped with a rag at the end and goes at it again, with much vigor. The blockage gives way to his efforts. He leaves the room triumphant as the toilet water drips from the rag, tracing his journey through our modest room. Glenn and I momentarily bathe in the deliciousness of the moment and vow never to dine on Chicken Sushi again.
Bali ’99 – Mark Morey