Is this how you cut a watermelon?

by Travel Paulie on April 19, 2010

Post image for Is this how you cut a watermelon?

Approx. reading time: 10minutes.

Sunday was an interesting day for several reasons and since I love the sound of my own voice I’m going to blab about it.

Currently I’m hiding out somewhere in Bali, namely ‘Legian Beach Bungalows’ at a mere IDR:80,000 per night.  The cheapest accommodation I’ve found by far, and much better than the ‘standard’ room for IDR:250,000 at the Suriwati hotel around the corner.  Legian Beach Bungalows is my recommendation for the budget-conscious – at that price you get a twin room (for 1 person), “breakfast”, a communal swimming pool, and walking distance to the beach and many other places besides.

Dinner for 1

So what’s new?  It was just another Sunday really… a coffee at my favourite little cafe/restaurant, a drive around on a IDR:30,000/day scooter, some internet-ing and dinner.  Dinner consisted of 2x Thai mangos, 1/4 watermelon, and a bio-yoghurt.  Staying in budget accommodation doesn’t afford you a fridge, air-con, and a kettle with an assortment of tea-bags and fake coffee sachets.  I bought my fruits at the supermarket and asked the guy behind the counter at the bungalows for a knife and plate from the kitchen.  Not a problem.

So up I took the dinner to my room and made short work of the little mangos and the watermelon which, given the fact I had no fridge, I’d have to eat all of it that evening since in the morning it wouldn’t be worth the health risk after a night in this heat.  As I peeled back the cling film I found myself asking “How does one cut up a watermelon properly?”.  If we didn’t know any better we’d suggest watermelons were thin, triangular shaped fruits since that’s the way they always come served up.  A bit like tuna – it’s actually shaped in reality as a big fish, not round and cylindrical like the tins we associate them with.

Then I reminded myself that I’m sitting on my bed, practically in the dark under light of a single 40W light bulb, and it doesn’t actually matter how I hack my way through the watermelon block.  No-one is here to tut-tut at my terrible “table” matters and any slicing that doesn’t lead directly to me eating the watermelon will throw juice everywhere – an open invitation to exploration for insects and other small creatures.  It stuck out in my brain at the absurdity of stopping what I was doing to think how should something like this be served.  It was only me, and I didn’t need silver service treatment.  It struck me again that I was completely alone in this little endeavour of mine… probably most strongly since I left home in January I have felt the enormity of what I had done and the life I’ve left behind.  It wasn’t a sad moment, or one of regret, just a deeper appreciation of my situation.

There is no denying that travelling alone presents its own challenges in terms of being alone with oneself for extended periods and the degree to which you can share your experiences, both highs and lows, with someone close to you.  It also opens up aspects of travel however that wouldn’t probably be otherwise available if I travelled with company.  When I am with others, it’s easy to switch off and coast along without making the efforts to talk with strangers, and I find myself a little self-conscious of how my travel partner will feel if I direct my efforts outside of ourselves (unless they are also keen).

Hmmm.  That rain sounds awfully close to me…

Bali, in the rainy season, is wet.  Officially it’s not now the rainy season (November ~ March), but for the past 3 weeks, it’s basically lashed out of the skies at one stage or another every single day (excepting a few), and I’ve managed to discover a pattern.  When I make a very definite plan of action, get on my scooter to act on said plan, approximately 5~10 minutes into the journey I’ll feel the first drops on my arms and a gentle spattering on my visor.

Being from Ireland I understand rain, since it’s rainy season from January to December – the only variable being in daylight hours.  “It’s only a spattering, a little shower.  It’ll be over in a minute.”.  In a minute is all it takes to go from a few spot on your arm, to rain so heavy it appears to be bouncing upwards and soaking you from the ground up.  It’s really not a lot of fun.  The first time was when I was transferring my 20kg back pack from one hotel to another and it managed to hit at approximately the half-way mark.  I wasn’t a huge subscriber to the belief in a higher power and forces working beyond our consciousness, but frankly, I think he is out there, and he’s having a riot at my expense.

Today, before leaving for the immigration office to get my Indonesian visa sorted once-and-for-all, I decided for the first time to pull out the poncho I’ve carted around the world but never been bothered to use.  It wasn’t raining when I left… but following the pattern I’ve been describing, it started and didn’t stop until about 2 hours ago.  That’s about… 6 hours!  I thought with my newly installed rain-proof gadget I’d be alright… hah!  Not in that rain.  At one point it got so heavy on the road that I was, for the first time, seriously fearful for my life.  A good rule of thumb when you’re out in Asia is to do as the locals do.  When they think the rain is too heavy to drive in and they start making quick exits, do the same! So I decided to make a scary u-turn on the highway in a bid to reach shelter (McCafe – that’s all there was!), to a cacophony of honking horns. It was a designated u-turn point, but in Bali, if you’re horn is broken, you’re not allowed on the road by law since you use it on average every 50metres – I think half the time is to just check that it’s working.

So… rain.  On Sunday evening it literally rained all night.  I managed to get a couple of hours kip here and there, but I wasn’t of much use the next day.  Above, I might have recommended (and I still do) the place I’m staying, but there was one point when I was lying there I thought the sound of pouring rain water was a little too close to be… er, normal.  So I flicked on the light and looked at the window on the other side of the room and sure enough, it was coming in at the top through the grill (weird, that word has lost all meaning).  No problem I thought, so what if the floor gets a bit wet.

As I mentioned earlier there is a single light in the room and it runs at about 40W, if even, so initially I couldn’t see the pouring water coming through a hole in the ceiling.  Surely I’d have heard/seen that?! you might think.  Not quite.  This tropical rain storm isn’t exactly quiet and explains why I couldn’t sleep all night (and I normally can sleep through most things).  Well the next hour was spent paddling up to the front desk in my swimming trunks, waking up dozing attendants to get a mop and bucket, and sorting my room out.  For $9 a night, there is no

Yes Mr. Goodchlid, what can I do for?

Oh dear, that’s frightfully bad news about the water.

Accept our apologies and please take this alternative room instead.  You will be okay now, won’t you Mr. Goodchild?

Call us if you need anything. Sleep tight.

Bed-time story?“.

Nope, none of that.  You just get stuck in and do it yourself.

Well, this article is long enough for now, so I’ll leave it there.  Needless to say, I didn’t get my visa stuff sorted today, but I’ll write up an info article on that tomorrow.

Lessons learned

  • Bring a poncho with you if you intend to travel by scooter/moped/motor-cycle in Asia, or anywhere else there are “rainy season” (Ireland included)
  • The best source to learn from are the locals – do as they do and you can’t go too far wrong
  • If you pay cheap rates for your accommodation, don’t expect a 5* service.  Expect to mop your own floors 😉

Any comments, please feel free to add them below.  Of course, if you found this amusing, interesting, or informative, and you’d like to share it, please do so also from below.  Thank you for reading!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo Rowkins April 21, 2010 at 00:16

I cut my watermelon in the shape of a triangle in company, but prefer the perfection of a lotus-leaf-shaped slice when alone.


paulgoodchild April 21, 2010 at 14:48

heheh, I shoot for 4-leaf-clovers myself 🙂


kelly June 29, 2010 at 15:04

Aaaah the rain in Bali, I will never forget………….dry season indeed!!


kelly June 29, 2010 at 15:14

I remember the day of the soaking wet backpack………..what a funny sight!!


Paul Goodchild June 29, 2010 at 15:18

oh, I have no doubt you wouldn’t forget that. Like pint-glasses in Ri-Ra? 😉

I can look back on these occasions and laugh, oddly not at the time 😀


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

← Previous Article:

→ Next Article: