Sunday, July 31, 2011

Better incinerate that stick before a baby gets a hold of it.

“I don’t like Gili,” the Sama-Sama bartender says, naming the island we’re on, then pausing expecting me to implore as to why not. Unfortunately, I’ve already heard him use this line four times tonight, I know what comes next.

The pause, it’s getting awkward. Okay, okay, I’ll bite. “You don’t?!”

“No, I don’t like Gili, I looooove Gili!”

This is just about all the English the gentleman knows, it’s all he needs. He looks the part, his long dark hair and muscles ripple as he dances to reggae and cracks open beer bottles. Women drool.

“Hey, you want to do one of those Freaky-Friday / 17 Again deals where our minds switch bodies?”

“I loooooooooooooove Gili!”

Didn’t think so.

Better wash bleach incinerate that stick before a baby gets a hold of it.

A couple days in Pandangbai, Bali, two more in Sengiggi and Mattaram, Lombok, they’re beach destinations that would excite if you hadn’t recently been dazzled by the tropical gems of Thailand and Malaysia. Face it. When it comes to sand and surf you’ve become more critical than a wine connoisseur, you sift and swirl the salt water, inhale, sip, review, then work your way on to the next with a broomstick up your cultivated ass.

Relax. Go to the Gili Islands and don’t judge, just indulge in the string of three small isles off Lombock’s northwest coast. No cars, no asphalt, no structures over one storey, and no stick.

Broomstick abstraction comes with (1) the coral ‘drop off’ when one goes from snorkeling in water ten meters deep to, quite jarringly, deep blue sea depths where the Kraken lurks, and (2) the mountain and volcano backdrop of Lombock in the distance. When one emerges from the deep blue to stare out at this prehistoric-looking panorama it’s awing in a I-wish-I-was-made-of-marshmallow-so-I-could-float-here-forever kind of way. The sea turtles, rhinoceros fish, schools of sparkling fish, flying fish, and sea snakes interest too. Oh, and the women.

Go to these backpacker populated Southeast Asian islands and you’re going to meet stunning sun kissed women from all over the world Europe and Australia. Even if you’re as ugly and as unpleasant as I am. The best part, many of these women have priorities akin to yours. They come without suitcases, only backpacks. They’re spending their time and money on travel instead of new rims for the whip*. Some of them even read a fair amount. The tide pulls you from one infatuation to the next. You’ve never been so jealous of yourself. No job, no responsibility, you live in swim trunks that wash themselves in the ocean everyday. The same goes for your body. You end your days listening to a live reggae band that puts Ziggy Marley to shame as they cover his father’s hits. After traveling over five months you’re in a frame of mind where this is just fine, it’s finally okay not to see everything in the guidebook. When it comes to Indonesia a 30-day visa would make that impossible anyway. Hell, a 365-day visa wouldn’t suffice. The country’s comprised of over 7,500 islands. That’s just it, though. There’ll always be more. Even if the next thirty years could be dedicated solely to world travel you still wouldn’t see and do all you’d wish to.

Real-Time Travel Tip # 9: Ambition is for suckers. Seek what interests, ditch the rest. If all of it interests and you find yourself in undecided inaction--the wealth of possibility paralyzing--then embrace catatonia. Stay put and see what happens. Especially if you’re in the Gili Islands. Besides, how many Asian temples and coconut-tree-white-sand-volcano-looming-in-the-background islands can one possibly appreciate?

You’re right. It never gets old, each alluring in their own way. Maybe ambition is just for people with more energy.

I’m tired. My wardrobe personifies. Holes riddle my shoes and both shirts, my shorts torn and frayed, the zippers of my backpack no longer functional. The guidebook has been taped and patched three different times yet remains in three separate pieces. How am I going to survive Nepal and India and whatever comes next? Like tomorrow.

I’ll guess I’ll just, like, well, you know...

Keep drifting.

*Whip = what the young call their tricked-out vehicles that cost as much to modify as it would to don a backpack and travel for six months. To each his own.

Sengigi, Lombok

Gili Terawagan of the Gili Islands
A Gili T sunset I took thirty photo variations of, each worthy of a frame and your wall (because I don't have any).

Broomstick abstraction

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