We celebrate the first birthday of the guesthouse owners’ son and loads of people, both kids and adults, show up. Michael, a Brit who basically lives at Mimpi Manis, tells me birthday parties are virtually unheard of on Lombok (maybe Indonesia too, don’t know) and so the kids don’t ever really eat cake or attend parties like this. While they don’t have birthday parties they do have many ceremonies for other things that don’t seem like a big deal to us, like a first-hair-cutting ceremony or parties for circumcisions where the whole village shows up.
Michael and I are invited to attend one of these hair cutting ceremonies and at the party afterwards the locals gather around and watch all the Westerners eating and talking. It’s not rude–they’re genuinely interested in how these people eat or what mistakes they make to good-naturedly laugh and tease them about. When they bring us food I get some chicken, which looks like just a large piece of meat. I put the entire thing in my mouth and realize it’s just a large bone. The locals see this but don’t burst out laughing until I’ve tried to clandestinely remove it from my mouth. This kind of thing goes on for the duration of our stay here.
I get tired of Made driving me all over town on his motorbike so I get my own. It’s a blast to ride it around the village and to visit the beaches whenever I want, plus it only costs about $3 to fill up a tank–which is actually a very dangerous act. There aren’t gas pumps here, rather there are places with glass bottles filled with gasoline sitting outside. They have little tin roofs over them, but anytime before 11am and after 1pm the sun is directly on them because the roofs are so narrow. They’d be very easy to crash into as they’re right on the side of the road, and the owners of the places smoke cigarettes around them all the time (though they tend put them out when pouring it). I haven’t seen an explosion yet, but I’m waiting.
Originally published August 4, 2007