If I hear my dad say, “that’s a good story for the blog” one more time, I might chuck a mango at his head. But I have to admit the man has a point.
For the last two weeks I’ve been traveling through Bali with my parents and it’s been like seeing with fresh eyes. They are still taken aback by the things that now barely make me bat an eye: the traffic, the temples, the monkeys, the penis-shaped bottle openers. They gasp and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and meanwhile I’m so jaded that I just shrug it off. After seven months of travel in Southeast Asia, the things that baffle them have started to seem normal to me. Squat toilets, families piled onto scooters, and women carrying baskets on their heads—totally normal, right?!
They’ve pointed out that I have so much material to be writing funny and interesting blog posts about that I should be posting every day, and yet I’ve let my writing lag. Part of the reason is I’ve been too busy actually living all of these crazy experiences to sit down and put them into words. But truth be told, I’ve started to believe these things are normal and that the people back home wouldn’t find them that interesting. I keep seeking newer and more enticing experiences to share when in reality I should probably just tell you about the cup of coffee made from cat poop that I drank last week (hint: it tasted almost as bad as it sounds).
Or share how this crazy little old lady undressed me on the beach while giving me a massage.
Last night was a good example of something funny that I wouldn’t normally write about because even as I type these words I’m cringing at how ordinary to me it sounds. But this is how I came to sing Hotel California in an Indonesian bar to a bunch of Chinese:
After a day of scuba diving on a shipwreck (okay, already not a normal day) my dad and I went to a local restaurant for some live music. Up front a small, round man bordering on dwarf height with long, wiry reggae style hair sticking straight up from his head sat slapping on a box drum. He had been our dive guide so I smiled and waved. The band members were all the Indonesian guys working at my little hotel next door so in the midst of butchering a U2 song they smiled and winked at me.
The place was full and a group of 20 drunken Chinese tourists sat at the table next to us having the time of their life. They laughed and cheered and shouted unintelligible things; they took a ridiculous amount of selfies and broke a glass or two. One of the men asked to sing a song with the band and they obligingly let him moan out a Chinese song that nobody else knew, though his comrades cheered enthusiastically.
The band took a break, but Mr. Karaoke was not finished with his performance. He snuck up to the microphone, stood there looking at words on his phone, and began singing what sounded like an a cappella rendition of a funeral march. His friends booed him and drug him off the stage, but after a few minutes of being unsupervised he would return to the microphone to try again.
My dad and I decided to leave but just as we got outside the band started up. “Aw man, they’re playing Hotel California!” I exclaimed. My dad looked at me in alarm. “We can’t leave on an Eagles song!” he cried emphatically. “It would just be wrong!” We ran back in and stood up front near the band to hear one last song.
I gave the band a thumbs up and mouthed good song! The singer offered me the microphone and asked if I wanted to sing. What the hell, I thought. With my purse on one shoulder and my phone in the other hand I grabbed the mic and sang what has become my go-to karaoke song. It occurred to me just now that I’ve also sung it at bars in Thailand and Vietnam. It seems I’m starting a tradition!
The Chinese were the best audience ever. I could’ve been up there squawking like a chicken and doing a mime dance and they would have loved it. They cheered and sang along in all the right parts and when I finished they began chanting, “One more! One more!” I decided to quit while I was ahead, thanked the band, and left so everyone could continue to drink and exaggerate how great of a singer I was until they remembered me as the next Celine Dion.
We walked out of the bar laughing and I went straight to bed. I’d nearly forgotten about it the next day until my stepmom said, “So, I heard you brought down the house last night.” I smiled and shrugged and mumbled something about those Chinese being easy to impress.
It’s the little experiences like these—the funny, silly, unusual—that happen all the time, but I no longer think anything of. It’s been good to have an outside perspective on my own life to help me realize and appreciate how hilariously extraordinary my life sometimes is.
“Don’t forget to write about it on your blog!” my dad told me for the umpteenth time. So here you go, dad; are you happy now?