Tales of the Waria

No Time for Tears…

I’m back in Indonesia for my third and final round of shooting. I have to admit, it was harder to get myself back this time. Love Indonesia as I do, I’m increasingly loathe to give up the comforts of living in a developed nation. But as my good friend Wing advised me, “No time for tears. You’re on a mission.” And on this particular mission, I have a shot list 5 pages long to fulfill.

I flew into Bali’s Airport where I was immediately confronted with Indonesia’s new intake policy. In a large room without A/C or fans, passengers waited to have their photos and fingerprints taken. It took about 5 minutes before I was drenched in sweat. People were getting desperate. Some passengers tried to straddle two lines so that they’d have options. Others tried graft ($50 US to be put in the invisible ‘express’ lane). And others, more familiar with the Indonesian pace of life, were simply santai and made small talk with their neighbors.

An hour and 20 minutes later, I emerged into the Bali sunshine and was hit with a blast of hot, wet air. Though I’ve spent nearly a year in Indonesia shooting, its heat and humidity never cease to amaze me. I asked my taxi driver why Bali was so inordinately hot—especially in May. “Global warming,” he answered, shaking his head. The heat, coupled with a late rainy season, had brought the mosquito population to an all-time high. There were so many cases of dengue fever in Bali, hospital beds were no longer available. Dengue fever, by the way, is an illness that brings on fever and “bone-crushing pain.” It only lasts for a week—or so I keep telling myself…

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