The Bali party-life is hard to stay away from. Groundhog days and nights. Surf by day, party by night. Every evening, one motorbike after another, they come in drones to clean, prettily decorated beach-chic spaces. Sun-kissed, shiny and dressed in their finest beachwear, they are excited to see and be seen. Feeling free, that the night is theirs, that anything is possible, hopes high, morals low, the crowd builds. Bars are stocked for happy hour encouragement and armed with staff. The energy is thick of expectation, thriving off the feeling that comes with the uninhibited possibility of anonymity. Far from home they have the chance to shed their guard, to be wild and push boundaries.
As visions of the night start to cloud and glasses run dry, primitive emotions take control. The desire to keep the night alive is pushed, squeezed to the last drop of alcohol, last cigarette, one last stranger to meet. With sweaty bodies smashed close together on the dance floor, small clothes entice and it’s not a mystery what’s to come. As they scatter, little tornadoes of tourist leave behind debris of green bottles and overflowing ashtrays. Young, impulsive and invincible, they hop on the back of a bike of someone different than they came with. Engines roar and take to the road. Tired, happy, drunk faces disappear into the dark.
In the morning, still riding the high of the night, they share tales of who went where with whom, and try to puzzle together the details of forgotten hours. They’ll spend the day mending headaches, egos, and bandaging the unfortunate few who didn’t quite make it the whole way on their motorbike. Some of those getting wounds wrapped secretly wear it like a badge, together with the others who also pushed the limits, as if to say “I’m so crazy and I lived to tell the story, wanna hear the story?!” And they will tell it a hundred times. In the evening they will do it all again.
My dignity is plenty in tact but last night I lost my flip flops to a rice paddy. That’s wild enough for me, so it’s time to go. I’m off to play Goldilocks in the Gili Islands. Made up of three small walkable islands, I hope to find the one thats just right for me. With no motorbikes or cars allowed and many less people, I look forward to being away from the hectic traffic and party scene that comes with Bali.
Like everyone in Bali, I too use the tropics to escape, but I dream of the faraway feeling that comes with stretches of empty beaches, calm, clear, swimmable water, hazy, tipsy afternoons in ramshackle huts serving- as cold as they can get them cause the electricity isn’t always great- beers, with local drifters and the few tourist. The parties of Bali represent rebellion against adulthood. It’s good fun for living on the edge, feeding off the collective energy of getting crazy, testing chance, living irresponsibly. I revel in the rebellion of being detached. I want to feel small on the edge of the earth, without responsibility, living as minimally as possible. I push to see how far I can go before I just might fall off and never come back.