I enjoy going to the beach — even if it is Kuta Beach. I love the people watching, the smell of sunscreen and the general feeling there are about 50 things I really should be doing while I’m laying around doing none of them. For me, it’s a relaxing time out and makes for very good thinking time.
In my opinion, there’s few worse ways to have your thinking time interrupted than by being asked for the umpteenth time if you want to buy a pineapple, ice cream, beer, bottle of water, crossbow or perhaps a blowdart with telescopic sight. Then there are the services: hair braiding, massage, foot massage, back massage, head massage, manicure, pedicure and so on.
This happens on a near continual basis on Bali’s Kuta Beach. It’s far, very far, from the island’s best beach, but the tourists flock here and with them come a fair number of beach vendors.
I’m all for politely declining, and I realise it isn’t the same vendor asking me every time, but just how many times do you need to say no before you’re allowed to get a little indignant?
Ten times? Twenty?
Or is indignation only allowed after the vendor crosses some personal line that bothers you? Perhaps squatting beside you and massaging or stroking your arm, or sticking the ice cream sign so close to your face you can smell the clove cigarettes on their fingers, or perhaps when they tell your four-year old daughter to tell Daddy to buy her an ice-cream?
I like a cold drink on the beach. I’ve been known to eat a pineapple, have a massage and even, on occasion buy my kids some kind of sickly sweet, half-melted concoction commonly referred to as a Magnum. On each occasion I’ve called a vendor over, or got up and gone found someone. It’s not difficult.
I do realise vendors are out to make a living and I’m certainly not out to deprive them of one, so here’s a suggestion.
How about if when you rent a deckchair or umbrella, you’re asked do you want to be annoyed or not? If you’d prefer to have quiet time, you rent a ribbon which is then hung from your beach umbrella.
The ribbon works a bit like when you put your hazard lights on while driving drunk through a red light at high speed — it enables a forcefield around your deckchair that beach merchants are not able to cross unless invited.
The ribbon costs a token fee, say 5,000 rupiah, and, at the end of the day, the takings are totalled up and distributed equally to all the roving merchants.
You get your quiet time, they get some cash for leaving you alone.
Pack earphones and dark sunglasses. Or just go to Balangan — it’s a far better beach anyway.
By Samantha Brown
Last updated on 2nd March, 2015.