Pairs Well With…”The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem
Last month, I made a visit to Bali, one of the places on my travel bucket list. I spent many years dreaming of teal pools and sandy beaches in quiet, serene surroundings, the kind that offers solitude and inspires my writing. For a while, I romanticized my Remote Year trip to be a bit like Eat, Pray, Love. Going to Bali for a few days gave me a chance to dig deeper and do some soul searching. I was a few weeks into my trip when I went to Bali and was feeling overwhelmed from the rhythm of my new lifestyle. I wanted to check in with myself and get crystal clear on my intentions and personal goals for the year, especially my business goals.
Days before we arrived in Bali, the owner of the Airbnb I rented messaged to let me know he’d be in Milan (rough life) and his house manager, Wayan, would be on point for any questions or needs throughout the duration of our trip. The place I rented was beautiful, but in a very remote, very secluded area which would cause us to need a driver.
A solid five hours after we were supposed to land, we finally made it to Bali. I was given the instruction to look for a man holding a sign that had my name on it. It was the first time I had a driver, and it made me feel fancy. Quickly locating the sign with my last name on it, mainly because it goes on forever, I walked over to my driver and introduced myself as Carin. “Hi, Carin. My name is Wayan.” Huh. I thought that was the house manager’s name. Did the house manager come pick us up after all? No, as it turned out, both the house manager and driver’s name are Wayan, a name I hadn’t heard before, except for maybe in Eat, Pray, Love.
The next day, after a morning filled with pool time and sunshine, we headed to the beach for lunch and a beer. It had been so long since I’d been to the ocean that I forgot how much I loved that distinct smell of warm air, breeze and salt water. A while later, the sun had worn us down, and it was time to recharge at the house. After many failed attempts at getting an Uber, and the Bali Beach Patrol (BBP) trying to price gouge the hell out of us, out of principle, we began walking to a spot where we would more easily be able to get a ride since we refused to pay the tourist markup.
Well, that didn’t exactly work out the way we had imagined. Not by a long shot. The BBP had the transportation game on lock, and Ubers weren’t allowed in the park systems for pickups, a way to keep local cab drivers in business. We were pretty much at the mercy of negotiating a reasonable rate to get us back to the house or living on the beach indefinitely. (Hey, I voted for beachin’ it indefinitely, but someone else in my group had a flight to catch, soooo….)
You could tell frustrations were running high, especially since only one cab driver was passing by every twenty minutes, and the first two said no deal to our offers. It was now or never, and time for us to get in, shut up and just get out of there. A few minutes into the conversation with our driver, one of the gals I was traveling with asked his name. Wayan.
What in the hell was happening here and why is everyone’s name Wayan? For crying out loud. We now had House Manager Wayan, Driver Wayan and now Cabbie Wayan. I got to the point where someone would go to introduce themselves, and I would think to myself, “Wait. Let me guess. Your name is probably Wayan.” After all, I had about a 40% chance of being right.
In Bali, an island populated with 4.2 million people, about one in five are named Wayan. We learned this because we had asked Driver Wayan the next time he was taking us around town. He explained that in Indonesian culture, the firstborn male is always named Wayan. Okay, but why? I mean, can you imagine being in a classroom on the first day of school during roll call when the teacher calls the name Wayan and about fifteen hands go up? It’s bad enough when you have a second Sarah or Katie in a classroom, let alone a room full of Wayans.
The Balinese name their children based on the order of which they were born, the first being Wayan. The second through fourth children is named in the same fashion with a name given to those second through fourth birth rankings. What happens if the family has more than four kids? Then the cycle repeats itself, and the fifth child becomes another Wayan. Interesting cultural learning, that’s for sure, but the first thing that popped into my mind was this:
“YOU’RE a Wayan….and YOU’RE a Wayan…and YOU…are a Wayan!!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mocking other cultures. There are just certain cultural concepts that make my head spin, this being one of them. These learnings fascinate me all the same and are one of the main reasons I love to travel as much as I do.
And Wayan? Well, he was one of the kindest and most interesting men I’ve met on this trip. He took great care of us and showed us the best parts of Bali. If you’re ever in town, give him a shout.
This episode of Keeping Up with the Wayan’s has been brought to you from Bali.
Want more? Check out Project Made’s video to see footage of the beautiful beaches and temples, as well as our other Bali adventures.