They dominate the beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak . They convey an incredible lifestyle. And they pull just about every girl and woman in their spell: The Bali Beachboys.
Day in, day out, they sit on the beach and rent surfboards, sun loungers, and parasols and provide the basking tourists with chilled Bintang beer. In the evening you can easily sit with the boys on the beach and talk about their lives, at least about the sunny side of their lives: women, surfing and Bintang. It even became my own routine to hang out with the boys on one of the rare bad days in Bali. However, I once wanted to look behind the scenes and discover the dark side of this apparently almost dreamlike life. On one of these evenings with sunset, Bintangs and the Sampoerna cigarette I once tried to get a serious conversation with some of the guys on the beach going. Here is the result of lots of talks…
Did you have a good business today?
Bali Beachboys: Yes, maybe. We do not know yet exactly. Right now is the peak season, but many tourists still have no desire to spend extra money for the chairs. Our business is going alright though. We are even fully booked for the whole week!
Well, how is life as a Bali beachboy?
Bali Beachboys: Have a look around! I can sit here all day and talk to my friends. I have friends all over the world; some of them even come over and have also invited me to Australia, Norway or Germany. Besides, I can just be where I feel most at home, on the beach, next to the surfboards. We have a simple life. We sit at the beach, waiting for customers and then spend some time with our guests but this is what we like.
How exactly do you become a Bali beachboy?
Bali Beachboys: Hm, I really do not know. Some of us may just be perfect for the beach and then become beachboys. Most of us have been here for a long time and have been doing this for years. But I know no longer how I ever got here.
Why did you become a Bali beachboy then?
Bali Beachboys: Well, I have a few siblings. They all still live on Java, the island next to Bali. I decided to do this as well as decided for myself that I give the opportunity to go to school and to get hold of the education to my siblings. I do not come from poor family, but from a family that does not have the money to pay for the education of three children. So I left Java after I had the basic training and now I am in Bali. Since I’m here, I see my family every few years. My siblings go to school and certainly have a great future ahead of them. You know, there is no compulsory education in Bali. That’s luxury. My luxury is now the beach life and I like it very much. Maybe, someday, I can visit my friends in Australia and then have the money to have a better life than now. Today, however, I am glad to be here, in the sun.
They live a life that many people dream about. Who would not want to have this kind of life, sitting on the beach every day and even earn some money with it? However, it is not that easy. Most of them have given up their lives at home, for any reason whatsoever. Because of their many international “friends”, most of them hope to have a chance of experiencing the Western life, one day… The difficulty of leading this kind of life, the Western life, is neither obvious to them as the difficulty of leading a beach life is to us.