November 15, 2008

Presumably, it's always the same scene at the Bali flight boarding gate anywhere around the world. Couples young and old clutching hands as they rest their heads on each other's shoulders. The glimmer of hope in their eyes shines brightly upon embarking into a journey to paradise; an island where lovebirds from across the globe flock to cherish their newfound romance or rekindle the nostalgia of a long lost affection.

Incidentally, I smiled as I threw momentary glances at them; fascinated by their delight in traveling with their other halves, promising a passage they'll never forget. Until I swerved to my right and set upon a sight that made me want to forget about my own trip to Bali already. For there stood my 'travelmates', Mazree, Zack and Badol.

To no one's surprise, our expedition began with Zack making a roundtrip to the airport and back home after leaving his passport behind. Questions lingered through our minds while we eagerly waited for his arrival and queued for boarding. How's it going to be if Zack couldn't make it? Should we forget about Bali altogether? Would it be just the three of us then? Could he take the next flight out? Will that fine, fine stewardess right there be on our flight later?

A few irrelevant questions later and out comes Zack from the security checkpoint. Upon which Badol sighed the biggest sigh of relief -- for his aim to feast his eyes on some 'susu jemur' is still within sight. Bali here we come.

The accommodating scent of the ocean with the calming sea breeze welcomed us as we set afoot Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. Our arrival was greeted by a group of vibrant tourist guides holding up signs and hollering out names as we eyeball around in search of our own names. A few feet away from the crowd was our guide, standing rather indifferently holding up his sign. Lazy-eyed and laidback, Ahmad introduced himself coyly as he brought us to a Suzuki APV at the parking lot to meet up with the driver, Komang, seemingly more livelier at the time.

On the way to the hotel however, Ahmad started to show his true colors. Just as any guys of the similar group age, we traded jokes (mostly from the toilet humor school of thought -- which rarely fails, by the way). Gradually, and I say this in the most non-homosexual manner possible, we managed to win each other's hearts simply through the warmth of our comedy. Indonesian humor, it seemed, differs little from the one back home.

Or so we thought until the following conversation left him in a bewildered heap,

"Dipanggil 'sepak bola' ya sini Ahmad? Di Malaysia, 'bola sepak'... sering saya main dahulu tapi sekarang sudah main bola lain pula."

"Ha ha, gitu ya... bola apa itu?"

"Bola kocek."

A lot still to be learned from our neighboring countries.

We stayed at the Matahari Bungalow on Legian St. near Kuta. A decent place to stay if you're spending just the evenings there, the hotel was just a stone's throw away from the Bali Bombing Memorial. Sandwiching the one way traffic were rows of hotels, restaurants, pubs, surf shops, tattoo parlors and suckling pig joints leading to nightclubs filled with both locals and Australians howling everything from "G'day mate!" (pre-alcohol) to "Shite mate!" (post-alcohol). All of that, only meters away from Ground Zero… signaling the resurgence of Bali.

The timing for the trip was a bit off, unfortunately. Our first night in Bali was also the eve of the Bali Bombers' execution, sparking threats of backlash. Out of security concerns, we had to stay in on the first few nights until things had calmed down a bit before making our way to the Hard Rock Cafe on Kuta Beach... only to witness Mazree and Badol's dreadful moves to the music played. In all honesty, it made me rather be at the hotel and watch Abdel & Temon on TV instead.

Through Ahmad's enunciation, we figured out the nomenclature for our names in Indonesian. Asrif is Asrep (to which I'm quite used to actually), Mazree is Majeree, Zack is Zak @ Zaki @ Jak @ Jaki and Badol, oddly enough, goes by his real name, Badrul. Naturally, we played along with the idea of everyone in Bali knowing Mazree whenever they call him 'mas' (Indonesian for mister) as we call him a similar sounding 'Maz' as well; not discounting the possibility of him talking to himself,

"Mas, ini enggak bisa kurang lagi ya..? Oh enggak bisa ya tu Maz... harga pas. Ah, gitu ya mas? Iya Maz..! Nggak apa-apain ya mas. Bisa Maz..."

Ahmad at least, was amused.

Going to the temples is a must whenever you're in Bali. With 93% of its population adhering to Balinese Hinduism, the influence was all too apparent. Ahmad brought us to the prominent ones but the more unique ones, Tanah Lot (temple in the middle of the sea) and Uluwatu (temple on the cliff) easily stood out. We missed the sunset at Tanah Lot due to the clouds but it was good buildup to the one in Uluwatu the next day. Sunset at Uluwatu, overlooking the Indian Ocean, brings you one of those mesmerizing views capable of making you want to just sit there, do nothing and let the good thoughts flow through your mind. Sadly Badol had to stay away from the temples as it was 'that time of the month' for him.

Of course I'm kidding.

The temples aside, we made stops at the volcanic Mount Batur in Kintamani, Mount Agung, Tegalalang rice terraces, Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Tampak Siring holy spring, Ubud and many other spots which names I fail to recall. The mountainous areas were as any that you'd seen while the rice terraces were a joy to witness. But being the art aficionado that I was (at least by Mazree's low standards), I was especially intrigued by the concept of Ubud as an 'art village' and thoroughly enjoyed walking along the galleries, confusing myself as I tried to depict the abstract paintings.

Just as any starving travelers would, we ventured our way in and out of the food joints in Bali. With Ahmad's assistance, we feasted upon the island's best Sumatran Nasi Padang, Javanese Wong Solo roasted chicken and Jimbaran seafood. Every dish tells a story, with the amazing blend of tantalizing tastes; especially the smoked seafood at Jimbaran. Furthermore, dueling Ahmad on messed up jokes in between puffs after the meals was a joy. Nothing like the local fairs with the locals, as we quenched our arid throats with Es Jeruk, Teh Botol and the likes. Not to mention Badol's deeply inquisitive yet entertaining questions (e.g. Where is Nasi Padang from?).

We felt rather unperturbed, somehow, by the activities leading to our last days in Bali. Something seemed to be missing. There was this urge for adrenaline rush as the sound of the ocean paved its way into our ears. The sight of the waves seemed like a calling; an invitation to get a taste of what they've got to offer. A taunt, if you will, for us to prove ourselves worthy of the gonads bestowed upon us. Aptly enough, we signed up for surfing.

And surfed we did... at the nearby Internet Cafe. So much for a taste of the local overused dry pun.

Our craving for some ocean action brought us to the Oakley sponsored Odysseys Surf School. All set in our rash shirts and board shorts, we tiptoed our way through the blistering hot sand holding on to our boards, into the sea. Su, our instructor was perhaps used to dealing with beginners -- something he didn't have to utilize much upon dealing with us (bar Mazree); good on the lad.

At the end of the day, it was a treasured experience for us all. Riding the wave, weaving our own lifelong dream of surfing through the sea breeze; I couldn't stop smiling even after suffering cuts and bruises and swallowing perhaps a few dozen gallons of salt water. More importantly though, we all had the Facebook-worthy shots we wanted.

It was only a few days back that I wanted to forget about the trip even before taking off. All in the apathy of going there with three guys. One surf session, 2 mountains, 4 beaches, 36 temples and 384,573,028 bottles of iced tea later, we woke up to our last day in Bali; in solemnity, as expected. Making it a trip we'd least want to forget. Truth is, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if it weren't for these guys.

Getting back into the office will be a daunting task. Why wouldn't it be? Hours of non-stop laughter to the worst jokes known to man on the island that is Bali is not an easy zone to get out from. Ahmad and Komang's camaraderie made us more than mere customers; it made us friends.

Coming home, we're all sunburned, our legs soar, muscles aching with gashes everywhere. I can still feel the wave slamming the surfboard right on my face again and again. Suffice to say though, I loved every bit of it. Doubtlessly, Bali has yet to see the last of us.

Oh why the hell not...


Nicely done... sez it all... but u left out bout 95% of badrul's fucked upness... that'll be a whole other entry i guess...


haha.. I'm planning for a KK tour pulak next year. Nak join? :p

abang ief machooooo on his surfboard... kalau any unsuspecting females nampak, sure terpikat. ooooooo

fortunately i'm around to make sure they know what they're getting into. after all you wouldn't want a relationship based on lies, would you asrif? damn i'm such a good friend.

nice writing and pictures bro, u should reconsider your current career

Welcome back in one piece.

Loving the snapshots taken. Especially the classic look of the lil’ boy squatting down…err, with his sarong exposed *pervert*

Thank goodness he’s wearing his undies!

It may look cute for the boy. Doesn’t mean it looks cute on you if you put on that striptease :P

gambo badol paling cute!~~~~ hua hua hua hua hua -b.a-

damn u guys!for leaving me out...may ur beards burst into flame!

lets go to KK jom nanti!!

mana dong gamba cewek2 bali nya? iya udah~

dang, should've join you guys last week

Jaki: Kena punk dia one day. Campak used boxers banyak². Puas hati sial.

Amal: I'm up for any trip yang tak involve more than dua batang. :-)

Hanna: Hi sayang, rindu awak.

T-dogg: But my current career allows me to have lunch with you everyday, my wise old Uncle T.

Hanim: I do have a similar shot Dol. It's good for anyone yang nak diet... skali tengok sebulan takde selera nak makan.

BA: Maintain rambut sikit bang.

Ahmad: Ahmad mana ni weh? Fareodzollah? Iskandar? Albab?

Judd: Nggak bisa diletakin di sini Pak Judin... nanti dibikin modal meratah nafsu liar di kotaraya yang mengasyikkan.

Mr. B: Takpe brader... kitorang nampak lu jalan ngan Farah masa kat sana. Terbaik...

Ewah2 .. byk cikadak ko nak punk aku ... ko n pak jaki buat free show kat aku sikit punye byk ... aku rase mate aku dah berkurap .. n that does not include when I saw pak jaki in the act (u 3 bastards know what I'm talkin about) .. felt like I wanted to puke out my intestines

you jerk offs deserved to be fucked ... I actually thought it would only be fair to me if I put your perverted gay ass pics on facebook

cam best je gi bali.
maybe someday aku akan gi bali lak.

Visit Tanah Lot Bali

well.... if you're lucky, the only batang would be you! hahahahhaa..

p/s - hasnor is so gonna make that face of his if he ever catches me using that word again! LOL

he he he... "facebook-worthy" shots eh? apo lagi wak profile pix la gamba 'surfing' tuh. mesti rama chicas nok add. kekeke..

peace out!

Badol: Bawak bertenang... bawak bertenang. Menggelabah tak tentu pasal ni kenapa?

Pie: Pegi jangan tak pegi. Macam-macam ada. Tapi cewek semua kalau ko nak cari, Bandung la kot. :-)

Talot: Iya udah!

Amal: Aw, we're gonna miss you.

Azah: Tokleh... tok cukup ombok.

im going to bali this april n yeah sure wanna try surfing. thanks for ur entry!

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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