With one hand, I grabbed a dunny roll; and with the other, I covered my mouth while sprinting to a room most often reserved for magical journeys and new experiences. My 24 hours of a special kind of hell was about to begin.
Earlier that day, I had arrived in Bali: that beautiful island in the east where dreams came true and, according to myth, the word “woooah” had first originated to describe its breathtaking scenery. As a cold and frozen Swede, I was beyond excited, not only to defrost in this paradise, but maybe, just maybe, to find out what life truly was about (I had been influenced to go to Bali by people who had seen Eat, Pray, Love at least a thousand times).
So when the rubber wheels of the plane touched the humid pavement of Denpasar airport, I was truly psyched. Like a newborn doe, I jumped out and embraced the warm air, which immediately started to fill my underwear with the glorious sign of the Indonesian rainy season: nope not rain; but sweet, moist sweat.
After getting my visa and wrestling with a thousand cabdrivers before being practically kidnapped by one, I arrived in Seminyak, checked into my hostel and put my dirty backpack on the green and very damp mattress. I asked for directions to the beach in the hope of catching some surf to cool my now defrosted but very stinking self off. The surf was good, and as a scared little Swede who’d spent his last month in Sydney, I was relieved when they told me that the water was shark free and warmer than baby piss.
After a couple of hours trying to look like a cool surfer in front of the five-year-old Balinese pros, I went back into Seminyak. I turned down a couple of banchongs who tried to lure me to their lion’s den, and found a nice place to provide my now-rugged post-surf body with some good grub. After gazing at the menu in awe for a couple of minutes, amazed by the ridiculously cheap prices, I ordered a club sandwich with some fries and a big Bintang. I then sat eating, watching another banchong try to sing the lyrics of Eye of the Tiger to a drunk crowd of Australians who hadn’t seemed to realise that the cute, puppy-dog-eyed girl in front of them was actually packing some heat beneath her trousers.
Wondering which of the drunken Aussies would be getting a big surprise later that night, I went back to my hostel to make an itinerary for the rest of my stay. And that was when it began.
With one hand, I grabbed a roll of dunny paper; and with the other, I covered my mouth while sprinting to a room most often reserved for magical journeys and new experiences. I hauled my sorry arse to the communal bathroom and started to unleash a power of force more violent than I had ever before experienced. Usually, you want to make a good first expression on the people you share a hostel room with in order to make some travel companions, but no longer did I care what anybody thought. No longer did I care about the unofficial bathroom rule that applies to hostels. I was at war, and it was me against the toilet.
For a solid two hours I crawled around in my own dirt. Then, feeling slightly better, I reached for the doorknob and went back out to the 24-person dorm to face people from all over the world who knew only too well the mess I was leaving behind when I closed the door behind me. Colours seemed brighter now, and I could finally smell something else than what I had been eating a couple of hours before. I had been hammered down by a condition known as ”Bali Belly”… and I had won.
Smiling awkwardly, I strolled across the room and felt 23 sets of compassionate yet revolted eyes boring into my back. I sat exhausted in my bed and fell straight asleep. After a solid eight hours of shuteye, I woke feeling fresh and slunk into the common area in hope that my fellow roommates had forgotten about the dreadful events of the night before. And thanks to some tricks up my sleeve (beer drinking games that I had learned from my travels in Australia), a couple of hours later, I had some legitimate friends and was ready to conquer the world with a slightly sore bum and a sense of assurance that it only could get better from here.
By Albert Engström