The night started off at Padang Galak beach.It always starts here.
We are at a new warung. This is Sana’s hang out. I miss the old one. I miss Ibu, auntie, who has a beach shack and sells coffee. We have betrayed her. She might not sell good Bali food but at least her instant noodles are good. Her husband had a stroke and is hospitalised. Her workers have left — gone back to see their families in Lombok. So Sana has taken me to another warung.
The area is a triangle of rice fields that is blocked in by a main road. Villas are encroaching. Sanur is just down the road. The walkway wall is built connecting the white beaches of Sanur to the volcanic sands of Padang Galak. Investors are buying up the rice fields that are used for kite flying in the monsoon season. A few fortresses are popping up. They are isolated outposts of prosperity in the new frontier.
It’s not far from the white beaches of Sanur and deck chairs. Here the beaches are volcanic black. Locals call this volcanic strip of sand the Chicken Beach. Waves pound onto the sand. The breeze kicks up. Ideal for five star hotels. It won’t be long.
Its still rural and very real. Farmers graze their cattle on the rice stubble. Fishing boats are pulled up on the stone breaks. Balinese go down to the beach for a swim. The tourist circus hasn’t arrived yet.
Word has got around that Complex One and Two will be bull dozed this year to make way for villas. A modern villa complex is under way – roads have been sealed. Walls will be coming up soon. Touristic Sanur is creeping closer and expanding. Tourism is insatiable like that.
The old warung way of life is under threat. For now this place is very local. It will soon be the domain of the well healed tourists.
The night is progressing. Two beers down. And nonsense talk.
Behind the warung is a cafe. One of those music karaoke joints. Out the front is some paint sloshed on the bricks. It’s the kind of building they splashed together in a day. It’s threadbare and minimal. But those flashing lights on the entrance door give the place style. You don’t know it’s a cafe until they start playing music early in the evening and flashing their welcome light.
A few bikes turn up. The women walk into the cafe. They are caked in make up and even walk in a disinterested way. They have a big night of crooning and boozing. One is wearing a yellow top and miniskirt. She asks for a cigarette. She doesn’t smoke the brand of cloves I’ve got and implies I buy her a packet of her brand. I play dumb and hand her a cigarette. She’s happy. She is from Ubud and we say we’ll pop in later. I like the music from where I’m sitting, and entering a place like that will only lighten my wallet further. When the music picks up, it’s the top forty hits and rocking. Now the cafe means business.
Beside the warung is a well for their water supplies. Next to warung is a public toilet. The owner, Katut, charges 2000 Rupiah a toilet visit.
This warung is a Balinese local. It’s a step off point to the two beach complexes. Sana calls it his terminal. He always hangs out here before picking up guests at the airport. They sell Balinese food. It’s not one of those warungs with a mattress out the back. The owner cuts up two ripe mangoes, and starts feeding them to me with a fork. I can only guess what Sana has been saying to her. She wants a foreign husband and a house in East Bali. Only US $3000 and can a buy house, informs Mr. Cupid. What trouble is he getting me into now? What trouble am I getting myself into? I’m the backer of this venture.
I can never follow is what being said. I actually don’t want to follow. I want to be elsewhere. We missed New Year a few days ago. But making up for it now. The warung was open until 2 am says the owner. She usually closes it at 10. She’s not feeling well. She shows me the red welts. She pulls her top down and shows me more red welts on her breasts. It looks like Dengue. She hasn’t eaten for three days and has shocking ache behind her eyes and suffers from the chills and fever. Drink liquids, lots of them. Sana passes over his beer. He wants to start a drinking competition. You are on your own sunny. The Balinese were drinking with gusto. And I expected Sana to do the same. He was with his own kind now. This was the first time I’ve actually hung out with a group of Balinese around a watering hole.
The other staff is from Kintamani. Sana gives that smile. She’s also cute and doesn’t mind drinking a Bintang with the customers. She’s not only here to look cute but to serve food and help out in the kitchen. She kisses the owner on the cheeks. And goes home. Now that the competition has gone home, we see another side of the owner. She lavishes special attention on Sana. He’s obviously been here many times to get his wicked ways.
I can see it clearly. He brings the big spending bule (foreigner) who gives lavish tips and consumes tonnes of beer. And he comes out of it looking rosy. I’m just about to be stooged again as he orders another beer. I’m going to pay for this. I can just see it now. I’ll go home with an empty wallet and lick my wounds and write a story. While Sana will come back to the warung victorious, having brought a big spender there. Some stories come at higher price than others….