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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My first trip to Bali: Indonesia at its best and its worst, Part 1

On January 2nd - 8th a few years ago now,  I spent my first vacation in Bali, one of the Indonesia islands that gets millions of foreign tourists. It was a very interesting and enlightening trip. I went scuba diving on two different days at two different locations - once among the soft corals of Mendanjan Island in the far northwest, and also dived about the ruins of the USS Liberty, an American cargo ship torpedoed in Indonesia waters by a Japanese submarine on January 11, 1942 (70 years ago today as I write this). Because it did not sink, it was docked at Tulamben, where the 1963 eruption of Mt. Agung caused it to be rolled into the sea just off shore.  
I visited several gorgeous Hindu temples, including Tanah Lot Temple, a picturesque Hindu temple built in the 16th century on a huge rock 100 meters off Bali's west coast, and surrounded by water during the high tides. I took two days of a private tour, one arranged by a the driver from my hotel, Villa Layang Bulan, and the other conducted by my scuba instructor. We took very scenic drives over small roads overlooking beautiful rice terraces. One of these brought me to the mountain village of Kintamani, which offers spectacular views of Lake Batur and the volcano. We stopped by the Elephant Cave or "Goa Gajah", a hermitage from the 11th century, used by both Buddhists and HIndus, where a huge collapsed statute of Buddha lies in ruins among the fresh water spring that opened when it fell (presumably due to an earthquake). 

I took in a traditional Monkey Forest visit, where these socially astute creatures can be quite aggressive in search of food. I visited the town of Ubud, where I stayed in a beautiful villa boutique hotel that seemed more like a temple itself. Ubud is the largest artisan town in central Bali, where I shopped for silver and gold jewelry, ornate wood carvings and all kinds of souvenirs. I visited its temples and also attended a kechak dance and fire dance performance that evening, after running to it soaking wet in one of the daily rainstorms. There wasn't constant rain - except for my very last day. 

Generally, it was sunny with scattered clouds. If it rained, it usually came on quickly and didn't last long (15 minutes to an hour). Temperatures ranged from a cool 18 at night and even cooler in the higher altitudes to a high of 30 or more in the daytime. 

I ate chicken noodle (mee ayam) and sate (kebabs with peanut soy sauce) at a roadside warung (portable eater). I enjoyed my visit to the Mother Temple at Besakih, Bali's most holy and the largest Hindu temple, built in the 11th century. It's built on the slopes of Mount Agung at an altittude of 1000 meters. 

 The people I met were perhaps one of the most interesting of Bali's features. I'll hold off telling about them until I get else confessed. 
I needed to make it clear from the start that I did enjoy my first visit to Bali. From what I tell after, you may get the impression that there wasn't so much that I didn't like about Bali. That's far from the truth. It's different from many places I have been - but probably not so different from most. There's much about the island that is beautiful, exciting, and attractive, but I would be totally honest if I omitted telling that I was also disappointed by some aspects of Bali: its crowded roads, the heavy commercialization, the level of street smarts needed to get things done, the deceptive friendliness of the people, and the heavy religiosity practiced everywhere. 
While none of these problems was unique to Bali -- perhaps they are not so much 'problems' as different approaches to live and interpersonal communication to which I was not accustomed -- and can be found in many places. However, you hope to be able to relax on a vacation without having to be constantly hassled by these societal constraints. While I was able to relax to a large degree, there was an undercurrent of tension with all of the complaints mentioned above that it sometimes was difficult to overcome negative feelings. 

First, let me explain. I went to Bali - mainly as an escape from cold winter weather. Secondly, it was also intended to be a sex vacation. I had heard stories about how wild Bali could be - at least, those stories of wild gay abandon with some muscled brown bodies of hunky Indonesian men loomed large in my consciousness before arriving on the island. 

The person who make a big impression was a beautiful Balinese man with whom I fell in love. Surya was my diving instructor. Although he knew I was gay (I had signed up with a gay travel site and was staying at a gay hotel), he himself was straight, married and expecting his first child at the end of this month. I don't think I'm being deluded to say that he actually teased me quite a lot. His boss, the owner of the dive shop is gay (also non-Indonesian). 
Surya, no doubt, knew the effect his body, voice, eyes and hands were having on my psyche, but he played that out to his advantage as he kept hinting that he could make himself available if the price were right. I'm not quite sure he had anything more in mind than a regular back rub (oil massage), but it certainly sounded like he could be persuaded to do more or even let me do more. However, he insisted that he had never done such a thing before and had not, in fact, ever had an intimate conversation with any of his clients before. I don't actually know if he was telling me the truth or not - although I have no reason to doubt him and plenty of reasons to believe that he told the truth. 

It started innocently enough. He came over from the second boat when we were having lunch and sat down next to me to eat his meal. He asked if I might be interested in going out for another's day diving later in the week, but - at the point - I was already tired and just wanted to explore the beaches and the area around Kuta / Seminyak (the gay area of Bali) more so I said I wouldn't be interested. 

After we returned to shore after our second dive, we were all getting packed up and ready to go. I needed to change out of my small bikini swimsuit (actually it was see-thru if you looked carefully). I knew Surya was going to be the person who drove the van back to Kuta Beach so I mentioned to him that I was going to go get changed. He dropped what he was doing and offered to show me where I could get a shower at the small shop about 100 meters up the dirt road. 

When we got there, I pull off my swimsuit and showered naked next to him. I was hoping he would take off his own boardshorts, but he didn't. It was the kind of spontaneous CMNM experience that I had been craving, and which I suspect that Surya knew full well was making me more and more attracted to him. He casually showered himself next to me, glancing down from time to time to look at my cock and balls. I feigned innocence because, in reality, it was nothing more than just a shower with a fellow diver. After showering, he moved into the toilet, where I supposed he changed into this street clothes, as I did in an adjoining changing room. 

Playing around with a gay guy would be a dilemma for Surya since he was very cognizant of needing the money because of his wife's having a baby (and stopping her work), but also he told me of his good friend from his hometown whom he had grown up with. He told how that friend had allowed himself to be used as a 'kept boy' for a older rich Frenchmen, who even now visits the island every six months, lavishing gifts that included a house and car on his friend who is also married, but still engages in sex with the older 'daddy'.

 The moral and economic dilemma seemed to weigh heavily on my Surya's mind. He joked with me about his being available for a nude massage for 2.5 million rupiah, but in the end, he could not find the guts or perhaps I should say -- he finally held out with the strength of good character -- to simply say he was joking, and not really interested. But I suspect he had been sorely tempted - not by my looks, but because I felt that he sensed he could trust me more than he had been able to do with any of client. 

Moreover, he really did seem to get pleasure from my words of praise about his looks, his character, and his expertise at diving instruction. When I told him something nice about his looks or character, he would smile broadly and repeat, "I like that very much." 

Surya often asked, "Will you be dreaming of me when you return home?" I could only heartily agree that I will dream about Surya for a long time to come. I really loved watching him - his dark coffee-colored skin was a joy to behold. He had wavy jet black hair, a broad smile of white teeth, and wide shoulders and brawny arms, yet not overly muscled or brutish. His voice was godly and he is surely the great grandson of some powerful Hindu god.  

Visit this blog again to read a later update on my trip to Bali.

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