A story I uncovered from my trip to Bali:
I am LOST somewhere in the central-north region of Bali, having missed the turn-off for Ubud coming back from a blissed out day at Padang Bai beach. I was navigating via my iPhone GPS and a bluetooth speaker I rigged to my scooter. I was also blasting Dinah Washington through the speaker, jazzin’ it all the way back to homestay, and so it must have been I missed Siri saying “Turn left now.”
After 40 minutes of me driving in the wrong direction through idyllic rice fields, a massive rain storm hit, and the voice of my Scooter Sensai Brian popped in my head telling me NOT to die in Bali, so pull over! But there were no rest stops! Just open road and rice fields as far as I could see! I drove like a madman, drenched, panic rising, Dinah Washington warbling about Stormy Weather… when I saw this isolated light-up shop all by itself in the distance!
I pulled in, splashing myself with gutter water, and met the family who owned this bodega who rushed out to pull me in. We communicated via hand gesture and the most basic question and answer Broken English:
“Can you shelter me? It rain so much!”
“My name is Philip.”
“I am from New York.”
“Yes…like rock star, from New York.”
“Yes, thank you, I will have tea!”
“Sorry, can I use your toilet? Bathroom?”
The father of the family took me behind the shop into his courtyard out into the back to the outhouse. I forged a river of dirty rainwater only to find hole in the ground. I used it.
Back in the shop, everyone was talking rapidly, trying to pronounce my name. “Fhiiil-eeep?”
I offered them sweet Balinese cigarettes and they plied me with tea and hi-fives as we waited out the storm. They got more personal with their questions and broken English:
“Ubud? Yeah very far. Why you come here?!”
“How old are you?”
“30? You look young. Look…my brother 30, and you look 17!”
“Married? Have a girl? Girl in NY…very sexy!”
“You like Balinese girl?”
The only lady there was very shy, hiding in the background, but they kept pointing at me and winking at her, and then they dressed me up in a Balinese headband and had us take a “boyfriend, girlfriend” photo together.
The rain cleared up. I offered them payment for the tea, they refused. We took selfies.
It was an epic adventure, and the best part of my trip so far. It was exhilarating to just get completely fucking lost, with no idea of how to get back on my own, find human connection in the strangest of places, and wait out a storm with strangers!