Running From The Pack In Bali

1211-B

Just before I turned 22 I booked myself a ten day trip to Club Med Bali, and that trip turned out to be one of my most unforgettable holiday experiences.

There are many ways to indulge in Bali’s charm… Admiring the traditional architecture of its many temples; visiting its craft workshops; enjoying the Balinese dances; feeding the wild (or not so wild) monkeys; strolling by the rice fields; river rafting, or simply relaxing at the hotel’s facilities… Well you name it, I did them all!!!

Making the most of my stay, I also signed up for several one-day trips including a trip to the island of Lombok, another to a Balinese temple. Each time I left the Club Med resort and stepped into the ‘real’ Bali, I would be immediately followed by many local people who wanted to sell me all kinds of souvenirs. It happened to all the tourists, no one could avoid it.

On the trip I had joined to visit the Pura Ulun Danu Batur temple, we had a stop off with some spare time to see some of the local handicraft shops. Of course we were all encouraged to buy buy buy, which I had already been doing – purchasing souvenirs of my trip. I had bought a carved wooden ashtray (I don’t even smoke!); an art work; a letter opener; silver bangles and some Batik fabric table mats too! I had certainly been doing my bit for the local economy. For a vacation of sightseeing, photography and relaxing, yet another round of shopping was more than I had expected.

But so it was to be; and upon stepping out of another woodcraft shop, I again found myself pressed upon by four local ladies; all of whom were trying their best to sell me the colourful fabrics they carried folded and piled on their heads, and with a sample held between their outstretched arms… Buy Buy Buy! No No No! I had an hour and a half to kill and as I walked along I encountered group after group who wanted to sell me something. “Buy my sarong!””Buy my silver jewellery!””Buy my checker!””Buy some fruits!”… And a little girl, she just wanted to plait my hair! This was my fine Bali entourage! They would not leave me alone.

I did however find a way to escape them when it all became too much. I would simply slip into a little store where custom forbade them to follow, and it was in one of these little Bali boutiques that I had what turned out to be my lucky fashion discovery.

So just when I thought my shopping was all done, I found myself buying again! Just like everyone seemed to be telling me too! I happily left the store with my new purchases: a beautiful summer dress – white with a colourful patterned print; a white mesh cut-out top; Boho style Batik print pants and a chunky leather belt to match. I don’t really remember the rest of the day, but my hide and seek shopping experience is vividly stored away.

Years later I still own and proudly wear my Bali fashion items. This photo shows me wearing the bright summer dress before I remodelled it into a top, as I felt its length no longer suited me. And I still use my brass dagger letter opener and the place mats, gifts were given away.  And of course whenever I receive a compliment about my Bali items; out comes the story of my special day trip; my fine Bali entourage and the hide and seek shopping experience that I will never forget!

Photography by Road Wang.

2 comments

  1. I recognize such circumstances in time and space, where clothing and garments happen to choose you. I’d risk to say they even drag you to entangle an orbit around them. However, mysterious as it is, they manage to evolve alike and hibernate as well, and suffer those shipwrecks and glories we homage to our very selves. Bali times, white canvas with a sprinkle of cute hodgepodge fantasia. I imagine timeless days, the hidden encounter in a pinhole boutique, the tropical breeze following many years of volcano and mango. I just had a chat with your Balinese dress, met it briskly at the workshop your weblog provides, It pointed proudly how the remodelling changed its life, in perfect alligment with the wearer. Within the process, two hearts were cut. But rejoice, this is just material.

    1. Thank you Jordi. I love, LOVE reading your comment!
      Reading your above comment is like watching a fashion film or reading a page of a novel which was set in a colonial time…
      I’m loving what you said: ‘…where clothing and garments happen to choose you…’, and the ‘tropical breeze’; ‘volcano’ and ‘mango’ are so visual that you took me right back to Bali again!
      I’m glad that you ‘had a chat’ with my Balinese dress; also very glad that ‘she’ took you to a different time and space…..

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