Making Friends in Bali
There’s something about traveling solo; it stimulates certain emotions in an individual such as heightened sense of judgement, reality and individuality.
Feels like I’m ranting doesn’t it? In ways I am. I’m a backpacker from Bangladesh. Surprised? I know, you don’t often meet a backpacker from Bangladesh. We are a rare species of travelers, but there’s a small number of us roaming around. While I myself don’t get to travel around for long durations because of my morning school and day job, I do find my self being in a new country every year for a month, sometimes a tad bit more.
We Bangladeshis have a hard time getting visas. Yes, we don’t get visas on arrival like our first world buddies but we do get it on some special countries, including Indonesia. I had actually planned to go to Vietnam in that year(2016) but that plan fell through after my visa got declined. So I was quite sad for not being able to get to Vietnam and ride through the country, from north to south like my friend Niko from Croatia, who I met in Koh Phangan in Thailand the year before. Then I heard Indonesia announced “visa on arrival” for us, but I didn’t have any idea about Indonesia. I went ahead to their embassy in Dhaka (Capital of Bangladesh) just to re-affirm it. When I got the positive news, I requested a copy of the notice they had and put a seal on it to show the immigration that Indonesia would let us in on a VOA and they were quite gracious about it.
I bought a ticket, showed up at the airport and was ready for an adventure in a country I knew very little about. At the airport to my surprise (chuckles) the immigration service wasn’t informed about the VOA in Indonesia. Surprise! Thankfully, I had a sealed notice from the embassy saying we are eligible for visa on arrival. After a flight and a never ending layover in Malaysia, I found myself out of Bali airport, looking for a cab and found these guys promoting an app called “Grab” which was a service like Uber but the price is cheaper for the ride. My backpacker instincts kicked in and I went ahead with it. It was a nice ride, I had a nice chat with the driver about Bali; places to check out, must eat local food, politics and culture. I had previously booked a Hostel called Kayun Hostel in Patih Gelantik, which was in a nice street just away from the Kuta party street. After checking in, I found my self mingling unsuccessfully with people asking questions like where they’ve been and what are the must check out places.
I found myself going out by myself for some refreshments and checking out places around the area. I then started playing with the musicians at a local bar (my usual way of mingling). The guys later on invited me to come with them and jam at another gig later on at night. They even offered me a ride and I took the offer before even blinking. They were playing in a local pub just opposite to the infamous Sky Garden Club and I jammed to some AC/DC, trying some of their local delicacies there as well. They dropped me off at the hostel at 2am and while I was getting in, this group of guys hanging out in the reception area called me over and told me that one of them saw me jam today and asked if I wanted to hang out with them. I was tired but still I wanted some buddies to hang out with after the long day I had. So I took my ukulele out and joined their session and that’s how I met a couple of my amazing buddies- Phillip, who was a young Swiss guy from the army, Michael from Italy who was working in Australia, their friend Rena who was an artist and a native to Jakarta on a holiday and most importantly Taka Tarek who was the friendly, kind and welcoming man who was ecstatic about life and making new friends. We talked and sang till almost sunrise and we decided that we were going to travel the next couple of days before going to sleep.
Little did I know that this jam session would lead me to one of my most memorable travel experiences ahead and help form such amazing, beautiful friendships for life!