Well…what can I say? I was always apprehensive about meeting Americans abroad. The Americans expats I know feel the same way, and we usually avoid the daytrippers because they remind us of the reasons why we left in the first place. I’ve meet some which are amazing, well-traveled and cultured people who don’t assume the United States is the best damn place on earth. Of course they never say it, but it’s implied in many ways which annoy the hell out of me. I met a bunch like this at the Kaleidescope House in Petulu, Bali during the summer of 2013.
I’ll start from the top…I arrived at the house at night and joined the group hanging out with Petra. Petra is a cool ass chick that runs the Kaliedescope House and has the most charming son. She rents out rooms and beds there. This place isn’t advertised on websites, but only through word of mouth. It’s a collective of artists, writers, performers, surfers and such who come to reflect and enjoy the surrounding jungle. Petra will kick people out if they have bad energy just to give you an idea of how important the atmosphere is.
BTW- If you’ve got good energy and are creative in any kind of way, stay at the Kaleidescope House the next time you’re in Bali:
This was my second time staying in her house. It’s imperative that I contrast both experiences in the house in order to understand why my second time in the house was so bad. The first time we had such a good time. We were all beautiful inside and out. There was sweet Brian from France, inquisitive Btissam from Morocco, NYC hip-hop artist Javon, and the surfers Alex and Max from Germany and Italy. We rented scooters and visited Mt. Batur National Park. We drove through Kintamani and had an early dinner from a street side restaurant opposite rice paddy fields. Then we decided to look for arak, a local liquor and enjoyed its affects along with guitar music until the early hours of the morning.
This time all of the people were Americans. Initially, I wanted to leave because most conversations I’ve had when meeting Americans consist of discussing everything that’s wrong with the country we’re visiting. I’ve also had problems with white American males that love to imply that I know nothing about the country.
I met one like this.
His name was Dave, but he went by “Deva” because he studied with a guru in India. My first impression? “Buddha on a mountain top” 40 something Californian vegan who looked down his nose at those of us that enjoy alcohol. The next American was Shelly. A 30 something woman from Austin, Texas who came to find “Eat, Pray, Love” type love in Ubud. Their discussions about Hinduism and probiotics bored us to death. A surreptitious game of who’s most the successful/intelligent. The next two Americans were women whose names I cannot remember. They were tolerable enough and were less jaded than their American counterparts. I would later invite them to Mt. Batur National Park.
I’ll get back to the story, but errr….another thing I cannot stand when speaking with most Americans abroad. They automatically asked me, what did I do for a living right after I gave my name. They sized me up straight away, but hey, no problems yet.
The Trip to Gunung Batur and Kintamani.
The dormant volcano Gunung Batur during the day
At night…with a full moon no less!
Gunung Batur is a volcano with an adjacent picturesque lake. The scenery is just stunning scenery. The clouds looked like white mountains hovering in the blue sky. There are three roads you can take once you arrive here. The road to the bottom of the lake and volcano are the most dangerous and should only be driven by experienced drivers. This road is too steep and has many curves. The two most tolerable American girls and I decided to drive to Kintamani to see the volcano and have lunch. Deva and Shelly invited themselves along. I didn’t mind since I had just learned how to ride a scooter the day before and would feel more comfortable riding with people. Off we went to see the volcano. The group sped down the village streets at around 60 kmph while I went at a pace more suitable of about 40 kmph.
There was a road block once we entered Gunung Batur National Park to check licenses. FYI- You can rent a scooter without a license, but if you’re discovered, the police will extort money from you. We each paid 50,000 rp ($5) each and off we went. Police corruption is a huge problem in Bali, but that’s something you can Google on your own.
Deva kept questioning my knowledge of the roads to take in the park. I told him which roads were dangerous and what our plans were…have lunch in Kintamani then drive back. The Kintamani roads are curvy, but not as bad as the other roads. Then Shelly and Deva weren’t hungry while the rest of us were. He kept trying to get us to go along with his plan to explore the bottom of the volcano, but I didn’t agree with him, so I was preapred to get lunch by myself. However the others joined me.
Problem#2: Beware of brown people!
We parked our bikes and walked around the town to find a place to eat. I’m easy-going and left it up to the others to find a place. After walking for 10 minutes and no decisions were made because we couldn’t find a restaurant with a view, I convinced the group to eat at a small warung (means restaurant). The woman that served us was nice. In fact, I always found the people of Kintamani to be especially sweet and pleasant to talk to. Deva asked if his glass was cleaned with purified water. His miming to our host was a bit insulting. She was a woman in her 40s and not some mentally disabled child. I could tell she was annoyed.
Then there was a complaint about the flies and ants. We were in a NATIONAL PARK. Sorry folks…ants and flies pretty much come with the park. Then the conversation shifted to American restaurant standards and if the cook’s hands were clean. All of this implying that things are done incorrectly in Bali. As stated earlier, this is my biggest annoyance when meeting Americans abroad.
As we’re eating a local guy comes up and asks where we’re from. He may have been selling something, but it’s deemed polite to answer people back in Bali. My fellow Americans ignored this man. I spoke with him and tried out my limited Indonesian which he liked. Then he pulled up a chair and Deva told him to go away using his hands as if shooing away a fly. An absolute jerk. I wondered how his guru would feel about him treating another human being this way? The man left and watched us from across the street. This scared the group apparently and everyone wanted to leave the warung.
Then Shelly became scared of the man watching us from across the street and thought he called his friends to rob us. This was thought because some guys joined him. They were probably discussing how rude they were. I didn’t wish to go down the road to the volcano because it was steep unless I could get a ride with someone. No one wanted me to ride with them. Everyone for themselves. The last time I went to Kintamani, I rode with Max, a cool guy from Italy that was an experienced scooter driver.
I had made up my mind to go back to the house, but then everyone decided to go back to Ubud. I wasn’t aware of why they did this at the time, but we headed back. Later I found out they were scared of the local people looking at us. People do stare at you if you’re foreign and I’ve gotten well used to it. They were seriously nervous about these brown people looking at them. Lol
On our way back, Deva and Shelly sped along the road and the other two girls, trying to keep up with them, fell off their scooters while turning a curve. One girl bruised her knees quite badly and was crying loudly. Luckily we were outside a fruit stand, so there were people around. They came and surrounded these injured girls which I could tell made them uncomfortable. One kept saying “go away, go away, I’m fine.” After they calmed down it was decided that a guy would drive one back and the other would use her scooter.
My time in the house was awkward after this. Deva decided he didn’t want to talk to me and to this day I have no idea why. I tried to speak to him, but he screamed (literally) and turned his back to me. His equally nutty friend, Shelly, would later reprimand me for insulting his religion. This is because I said he was an exemplary example of a Buddhist and that I could see his religion was really working for him. Petra would later tell me that he left the house because he couldn’t dispose of the bad energy there.
I’d like to get a discussion going concerning this! How do you handle meeting people from your country when abroad? Do you greet them or avoid them all together? Why?
Sadly, as of July 2014, I can no longer suggest Kaleidescope House as a positive place to stay. Petra, the woman that runs the place for Soni Santosa, refused to give me back the money I paid for one month. It’s a ;long story, but the short of it is that her abusive boyfriend destroyed the lock on my door because he was looking for his phone. Why would his phone be in my room? I asked Petra for money back back I paid for one month. It was only 2 million rupiah which is about $180. She owed me 532,000 rupiah about $48. This woman changed the rate to a daily one and stated that I owed her money! I couldn’t believe it.
Now, it all made sense why she has such bad luck in life. The money wasn’t the issue, but how petty is it to do something like that when it was your boyfriend’s fault? I was her main cheerleader and wanted to see business succeed. He can beat her black and blue for all I care. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone the abuse of women. When you treat people unfairly, karma will get you. Petra and Risky are on the run in Sumatra now. There are some mafia guys looking for them because they owe a substantial amount for some rented scooters. I feel sorry for them. My prayers are with their son.