Throwing Caution to the Wind

I had a taste of the local life on the drive in from the airport. The views were stunning; aromas of street food lingering through our air conditioned car. As we pulled up, you could hear hawkers selling sate (satay) from their food carts.. Since our cars weren’t allowed to be separated from one another, I couldn’t stop to smell / taste the satay.

 

I wanted to see it for real.

 

After some days in Lombok, Jimmy had agreed to drive the scooter to give me the opportunity to take some photos. I’ve asked the hotel reception to point us to a couple of spots to see rice fields and I’ve inputted it to google, according to her scribbles. Plotted the route, rented a scooter, had a wobbly start and off we go! We’ve driven through a few busy intersections and made a couple of U-turns but no big deal. I turned on the turn-by-turn directions, holding on the phone while gripping the back handles of the scooter. “Turn left, the turn right…”  Zipping past other scooter motorists I could easily give a high-five to, and inches from clipping side mirrors, we were on step closer to our destination. The more we drove in-land, the narrower the roads got. There were garbage on the side of the road; kids playing on the narrow street; dogs lazily hung around trying to survive the heat. We DEFINITELY were not in Kansas anymore.  I yelled through Jimmy’s helmet saying “ummm…”  He slowed down and asked if I wanted to continue. I hesitantly agreed.

 

Based on our google route, we’ve reached our destination. We were in the middle of nowhere, a few sheet-metalled roof houses and stores and a dense jungle. No rice fields up in here! Though there were a a few kids and a couple of adults on the side of the road, looking at the both of us with a blank stare. It was like they have not seen travellers in this part of Lombok. I could just feel the stares.. I was getting scared. My heart was pounding as one of the kids started to slowly walk towards us and says, “wrong. way.”  I wanted to get the f** out of the there as quickly as possible. As Jimmy turns the bike around, I climbed on board and left. I could hear a few of them laughing as we drove off. If I was able to wipe the sweat off my forehead at that time, I totally would have. We zig-zagged our way back to a more familiar road and I was able to relax a bit more.

 

The drive out, we finally stopped to take some photos of some fields. The initial shock still hasn’t left me so I was very unfocused. Luckily, the folks that were around the fields that were just staring acknowledge my hello with a friendly smile. We hopped back on slightly hungry – well, not so much for Jimmy since he was laser-focused on driving (or should I say, not dying) and couldn’t think about such a trivial task. We decided to head back towards our resort. On the road back, I was full of life again and decided to take out the camera as Jimmy drove. “SELFIE!!” I yelled out, and Jimmy answered “huh!??” He turns to look at the lens yelling, “WTF Mike!”

 

SELFIEEEEEEEE

We decided to stop at some stalls on the side of the road. Most of the stalls were selling roasted corn which we just weren’t in the mood for but then we say some selling sate. Being the first street food we were going to eat, we weren’t sure how our stomachs will be able to handle the food yet. We looked at each other and said “fuck it, lets just do it!”

 

There was a bit of a struggle trying to figure out what we wanted and my minimal knowledge of Indonesian was limited to the words “ayam” which means chicken and “terimah-kasi” which is thank you. There was definitely some confusion with the numbers but we insisted on just trying out 3 skewers and 2 bottles of Teh-botol (which is pretty rad if you get a chance to try it!) Shocked that we wanted 3 between the two of us, she shrugged with a laugh and led us to a seating area with a (b)romantic view of Bali sea. As we watched the sunset, our food came.

 

our bowls of sate
sate for days

 

3 bowls of food came.

 

Each bowl contained 8-10 skewers and 4 wraps of rice! It all made sense now. It was nice that it was easy to eat but there was still alot! The peanut sauce was a bit spicy but not overbearing. At least, we knew for next time that in Asia, they don’t sell skewers individually unless you’re at a restaurant. But out on the streets, just bring your appetite… and order one bowl.

 

What an afternoon.

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Michael Gozum

I'm a food photographer that wants to eat my way around the world.