I was asked to write a wet season survival guide. So here’s that, right now. Here’s what you need to survive wet season in Bali:
A good quality rain Poncho. You can buy them everywhere. They cost about 150,000 IDR. The Elephant brand ones are the heaviest duty.
Some things that involve a roof and air conditioning.
Modern human beings have something in common with sharks and it’s not just their love of sushi. Sharks have to keep moving or they die. They need water passing through their gills or they just sink to bottom of the ocean to rot and then mermaids remove their teeth and turn the teeth into necklaces for your Dad to buy and wear when he leaves your Mum and starts his awesome second life in Ubud with Rosminy the 48-year-old Yoga instructor / Aura reader / Vagina beat boxer.
Sharks need water rushing over their gills and we humans have to keep a constant stream of novelty, newness, information and stimulants. Digital, chemical, physical, spiritual, sexual, fast, hard and with sickening rapidity all flowing onto our brains like chocolate sauce on a boiled yam. Or we become bored. Very bored.
For millennial people like you or I, ‘bored’ is a fate worse than death. I actually think the reason I fear death is not because it is the end of my life but because death sounds so damn boring. Depending on what you believe, it’s either endless nothingness or endless everythingness. Both options sound pretty endless don’t they? Bored now.
We don’t do boredom well these days. As a society we believe that boredom is beneath us in some way – like we’ve moved past it. We treat boredom like it’s the hula-hoop, roller skating, Tom Cruise movies or fingering – something that we used to do that we don’t do anymore. It’s 2014-15 and everything we do, buy, bring into existence, is a hedge against boredom. The reason Steve Jobs was as loved as Jesus wasn’t because of his kindness – NOPE. It was because he invented shiny little boredom killers that fit right in our pockets that got us from in front of our TV’s to the screens on our desks without us having to feel the crushing, hollow dread of boredom and face the possibility that we might have to have a thought of our own which, lets face it, will be a very boring thought.
In the old days, boredom was one of the two states of mind available to people. One was fear and the other was boredom. Everyone was bored all the time. If I was to invent a time machine and fling you back to the days of old you’d arrive and immediately start feeling twitchy. It would just be people talking to each other, thinking about things to make themselves not bored anymore. This is the thing: I won’t invent a time machine because I’m never bored. I won’t do anything with my modern life because there’s no necessity to. All my furniture is pointed at the corner of a room where a TV lives and always has. The guy who invented TV had his furniture pointed at nothing and then he set about fixing that. It was his boredom that set him on a path to invention… and then, ironically, killed our ability to be bored stone dead and turned us all into sharks.
And you, you traveller – you’re the most easily bored and sharkified of us all.
If you’re reading this, that means you are type that handles boredom very poorly indeed. You’re one of those people that wants to ‘experience things’ and ‘see the world’. You can’t be in one place too long. You’re always looking at a door and trying to finish a conversation with some human impediment so you can leave the room and walk through that door and stop being so goddamned BORED!
The desire to travel and feel a totally different culture rush over you. That’s what got you here to Bali or why you’re heading here to the Island of the Gods.
BUT, if you’d let the last person who was talking to you finish what they were saying before you stood up and left (throwing a gasoline covered rag and a match behind you) they might have said something like, “Bali this time of the year? It’s wet-season.”
Wet season is aptly named. The wetness of the season means that the things you would normally do in Bali are suddenly less attractive / available to you. The beaches can look like terrible due to rivers vomiting trash all over them, the waves are average due to trash slicks that float around the island and put nappies in your face, and driving drunk on a scooter takes on an even more terrifying timbre on wet roads. White people with dreadlocks smell like fish when they get wet and the Bintang Clan hit it heavy in the Seminyak bars, so you take your life in your own hands in the narrow shopping streets.
That leaves you… with the distinct possibility that you may get bored. But because I like you….
Drink your own urine
Like any good survivalist will tell you, it’s okay to drink your own urine up to 3 times before it’s glue. You’re stuck. It’s survival mode. It’s an inevitability so get used to the idea. This is the first thing I do anytime I’m stuck anywhere for more than 3 minutes. I drank my piss once when I was in a cab in a traffic jam, once when I was in a longish queue at an ATM and the last time I drank my own urine I was locked in a train toilet by a faulty electric lock. There was fresh water in there and, come to think of it, a toilet – but it’s just a tradition for me now. Every time I’m stuck somewhere I treat myself like a water fountain. Wet season just took on a new meaning.
Get good at sex
You’ve been meaning to for all these years. Now’s the time to give it a really good crack. Why not try and develop some sort of signature move? Something with your thumbs, elbows or eyelashes involved. Give it a name. ‘The Tiger In The Kindergarten, The Puppy Eats The Microwave Burrito, Caving With The Geriatric Ninja’s” – you come up with it. You’re the one with time on your hands.
*Don’t indulge if you’re alone. Masturbating because you’re bored is a soul killer.
If you can’t go out – go in. Grab a handful of magic mushrooms and sit in a dark room. Close your eyes, put your tray table in an upright and locked position and hang on. These naturally occurring medicinal plants are a way to have a direct conversation with the unseen things around you and the unheard things inside you. 4 hours of realisation, honest introspection and some dazzling visuals await. Not for kids.
*This is the view of the writer. Not the view of the publisher.
Renovate your imagination
Our imaginations are like a paraplegics legs – all wizened and useless. It’s not our fault our imaginations are mind soup anymore than it’s the paraplegic’s fault that their legs are jean spaghetti. It’s just that we don’t use our imaginations anymore – they’re weak, they’ve atrophied. Our great, great grandparents had only some pinecones and a curtain that moved a bit in the breeze for entertainment but we have a myriad of screens and distracat-a-con 2000’s at our disposal. Your great, great’s imaginations were so finely tuned and muscular that if we were to insert them into our present minds our minds would melt and I imagine… ummm… something else…would umm… happen or something (stupid imagination!). So take this time to work on your imagination – stare at a wall and try to come up with some surprising scenarios and odd little plans. Try to form an amusing picture in your mind while you are still. Seriously. See if you can look at rotating fan for 10 minutes and then notice any thoughts you have. If nothing comes – just imagine you had some.
Rediscover the art of conversation
Did you know that phone usage – actual talking on phones, not texting or messaging – is down by 30%? No of us, it seem, want to talk to each other. We have forgotten what conversation is. Conversation is not that thing you do when you ask someone what they’ve been up to and get “not much” as a reply and then you wait a bit until you’re asked “what you been up to?” and you say, “same old.” That’s not a conversation. Conversation is the free flowing exchange of ideas and feelings. It’s the sharing of points of view and experience through your unique lens. It’s a way of forming bonds through a better understanding of who each other are. Here are some tips for good conversation:
Don’t lie but definitely add some colour. You need to do this to make your side of the exchange bearable.
Try, like, not to, like, say ‘Like’ every like, second, like word. You sound like a stupid asshole (that time it was used correctly).
Try having a meal and not just a coffee. You have more chance of getting the small talk out of the way.
It’s hot and it’s wet. Say that 5 times each right at the beginning of the conversation and move on from the weather.
Find something you agree on – for example, think of some people you both hate. Talking about someone terrible is a great icebreaker.
Now is the time to figure some things out and get your rankings right.
Who does the best impersonation of James Bond, Batman, Bain…?
Who can do the most push ups?
Who can drink the most tequila without crying?
Who can take the hardest punch?
Who has the loudest singing voice?
Who makes the fastest omelette?
Who can throw charming cushions with inspirational quotes printed on them the furthest away.
Who looks best with a totally shaved head.
Spend a day playing ‘would you rather’
This a top notch game which is more about coming up with decent would you rathers and less about the answers.
Would you rather… Have sex with your mother or your father?
Would you rather… Have a dick where your nose was or balls where you ears are?
Would you rather… Have a clown follow you round every weekend for the rest of your life or be woken up with a slap in the face every morning.
Would you rather… Eat nothing but human meat forever or your own butt cheek once.
Please send me any genius that you conjure.
Commentate on someone else’s life. Constantly.
Start very early in the morning and don’t stop until bedtime. Pretend you are a commentator and that your spouse, friend, travel companion or just some stranger you like the look of is a sporting match that needs your analysis and insight. Constant analysis and insight.
“Ben has woken up and oooh. He doesn’t look pleased to see me in his bedroom. Looks like Ben has got a little morning friend in his trousers that he should cover up with a blanket.”
“Ben is eating his lunch with a look on his face that could be anger or could be frustration and now – oh no! Ben has lost his temper and he’s lashing out with a chicken bone and fork. There is Nasi Goering everywhere and Ben is showing the speed he’s famous for as he chases me out of the restaurant into the street.”
“Ben is rocking now. Rocking and hugging his knees. It’s been a long day and I’m sure Ben would like to sleep now. Maybe we can get a quick interview. Ben you look upset. Are you okay mentally or close to snapping for good?”
This article was written while staring out over the rice paddies eating bircher muesli with green tea poached pear, banana, cranberries & house yogurt and sipping a fresh juice at Milk and Madu in Canggu.