You ask for extra sambal at the warung.
More, more, MORE sambal! And, when your breakfast comes without sambal in a remote hotel, you ask folk to chop up raw chilli to substitute. Old ladies at ports or tourist spots look bewildered when you request chilli with your fried snack.
You see an indicator as an old-fashioned courtesy.
Sort of like, you know, opening a door for someone, or pulling out a chair. Charming, somewhat retro, and vanishingly rare. You still use one yourself, of course, but you’re a dying breed.
You’ve forgotten what right of way is.
Gone are the heady days when you contemplated facing down larger vehicles in your tinpot Jimmy or motorbike. Now you look for what’s in front of you, and fumble to remember what you’re actually supposed to do on a roundabout that has rules.
You’ve realised you’re probably never going to speak the language all that well.
Indonesian is a fiddly beast: insanely easy in the beginner/pidgin stages, but quite a lot of vocabulary and fancy business once you’re at the intermediate level. You haven’t actually progressed that far from the giddy heights of your first few months, when you thought you’d have the language nailed within the year.
You have a basic understanding of sarongs.
You have some idea of how to tie the national costume, a vague idea of which styles are appropriate for which occasion, and why, and some notion of the sheer regionality of patterns and styles. You are not, however, remotely as fluent with sarongs as you thought you would be, and you’re beginning to accept you may never be.
You’ll hop on the bike for the 100-metre trip to the shop.
Indonesians – at least those Indonesians who can afford FitBit – walk less than any nation on earth, not least because their streets are some of the least walkable on earth. When not actively trying to exercise, you’ll happily drive 100 metres down the street, often on the wrong side of said road.
You’ve stopped fighting in expat Facebook groups.
If there’s ever a place where more obnoxious opinions and strong feelings mingle than an expat Facebook group after wine o’clock on Friday, you know enough to stay away from it. Now, you swing by expat Facebook groups for the popcorn, not to participate, and save your energies for endless battles with broken things.
You whinge about the weather almost as much as you did back home.
You have entirely forgotten the horrors of a North Atlantic winter in favour of whining about the – admittedly dramatic – turbulence of a Balinese rainy season. Once you’ve finished whining about the rainy season, it’s time to start whining about being too hot.
You can get quite heated when discussing the merits of different babi guling joints.
Even if your researches in this department haven’t progressed quite as far as you thought they would when you first arrived, you DO have a strong opinion on Ibu Oka and, most likely, Pak Malen as well.
You’re beginning to become inured to the expat churn.
People leave. More people come along. Friendships cycle. The transience of life on a tourist island no longer seems like tragedy, just like life.
You’re surprised you still appreciate ceremonies.
A barong dance in the street still raises a smile, even as it holds up traffic, the bane of your life. You’re surprised by this, but strangely pleased.
We have been on Bali for over four years, and I turn 44 on Sunday. Time flies.
Source: Escape Artistes