break up in bali

A break up in Bali

Just a holiday fling?

I arrived back in Bali full of expectations. I had met Made while I was here in November, and we hit it off immediately. Or so I thought. Y’all know the story of how we met, so I’ll just give you a little reminder: he was the airport driver sent by my hotel to pick me up from the airport. He hustled a driving gig from me for the next day which I was cool with (that’s when I went to Tanah Lot with him), and things progressed quickly from there. He picked me up from Kintamini when my writers retreat finished, and he stayed with me the two weeks I was in Sanur. But it ended oddly, and I expected more of an emotional good-bye from him than the one I received. No hug good-bye: simply a kiss brushed quickly up against my cheek after he’d put on his motor bike helmet. Then he rode off with nary a backward glance. Really? I thought. That’s it? I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking it was cultural. Over the two weeks we were together in Sanur, I had enjoyed his company so much that I talked of coming back and living like a local over the Christmas period (he said he’d be working and I said: No problem, I’ll be writing—I have a book to finish), but I had second thoughts after that odd, lukewarm farewell.

When I got back to Australia, I thought that was that. I said to a number of people that the technological and financial—not too mention cultural—differences probably made it unsustainable. It was a holiday fling, nothing more. And I was cool with that, too. After all, I had a local experience and I got to see a Bali that probably not many people would see, and I was grateful to Made for that. It had been a while since I’d had sexy times too, so I was happy to have a ginseng-fuelled body to warm my bed at night. And I sent him a text thanking him, and he texted back. And the texts continued back and forth, and before I knew it, I had booked flights back to Bali as well as my local accommodation. I figured I would see if this thing with Made was a thing, and if it wasn’t, I had stuff I could work on, like my book, my websites and building up my freelance work. Ubud has a number of co-working sites and I was keen to check them out and maybe build up my networks in the time I was there. Bali—like many parts of Asia—is a thriving hub for freelancers.

Back in Bali for New Year

I arrived back in Bali on January 1 and here I am. And here am I for three weeks. When I flew into Denpasar, Made was waiting at the airport to take me to Nyuh Kuning. Unlike his odd, lukewarm farewell six weeks earlier, he was very happy to see me. He put his arm around my waist, and gave me a squeeze and a kiss. And his happiness to see me continued all the way to my flat, and into Saturday.

(I rented a place in Nyuh Kuning on AirBnB and it’s adorable. It’s a one bedroom, upstairs flat—with a kitchenette—in a family compound. Very safe, and outside the hustle and bustle of Ubud, yet with all the conveniences: restaurants, warungs, laundries, mini-marts… even a beauty parlour and a co-working space!)

On Saturday morning (despite my having a poor night’s sleep—I never sleep well on the first night flying in from somwehere—we went into Sanur and had Sambal Mak Beng: deep-fried fish and a (very) spicy fish soup with rice. Then we went to see Made’s nephew (I had presents for the baby, and for the other kids that lived in the compound). We elected to keep the car he used to pick me up from the airport for the day, so we could get around (better than his motor bike, because I had the presents), but I ended up telling him to take it back at around 2pm. We stopped at the supermarket on the way home so I could get groceries and I was so dog-tired when we got back, I had an afternoon nap. And slept for a few hours. He went off to find out if he was working, and then came back to pick me up for dinner. We ate at a local warung (it was cheap and excellent) and he dropped me back at the flat. There was no going out to a bar afterwards like last time. No going to see a local band.

Not like the last time

He didn’t stay the night because he was, in fact, working (he had to do an early volcano run i.e. take hotel guests to climb a volcano at godawful o’clock. My friend Karen at Sharing Bali says it’s a wonderful experience, trekking a volcano at dawn. I’ll just have to take her word for it!) but he came back to the flat the next morning. And slept. And slept some more. And then just sat. Wherever I wasn’t. If I was in the kitchen/dining area, he was in the bedroom. If I was in the bedroom, he moved to the kitchen/dining area. Any conversation we had seemed forced and unnatural. I was acutely aware that his English wasn’t was good as I had given him credit for (halo effect?). We literally had nothing to talk about. Dinner was painfully silent, and when we got back to the flat, he put himself to bed and I continued watching Season 4 of Hell on Wheels (in the kitchen/dining area), which I had started watching earlier that day to give myself a break from writing (I’m setting myself a target of 2000 words per day and I’ve pretty much hit it). I thought to myself: how am I going to get through the next three weeks if it’s going to be like this? I can’t not talk!

When I eventually went to bed at about 9.30, he stayed on his side and I stayed on mine, until the morning when there was a token effort at a bit of spooning. At one point, he swatted my arm away when I tried to nestle up to him. (And unlike last time, the sexy times had significantly dwindled to twice since I had arrived. Yes, I was counting.) When I asked him what was going on, he said he was tired, and still a bit sick (hung over) from New Year’s Eve celebrations. Ok, I said, again giving him the benefit of the doubt. But the spidey senses that is my stupid, sexy anxious attachment system told me something was up. He’d told me he was going to go up to his village for a cremation ceremony, and would be staying there for three or four days, and despite my spidey senses and my stupid, sexy anxious attachment system, I was secretly relieved. Things were starting to feel awkward. I thought to myself: how am I going to get through the next three weeks if it’s going to be like this? I can’t not have sexy times!

I’d also noticed that the kindness and courtesy, which were hallmarks of the things that had drawn me to him in the first place had all but disappeared, replaced with (what I thought was) self-interest and a growing sense of entitlement. This may sound silly, but the old Made who got me chicken satays and set up a picnic in our room in Sanur and peeled my jackfruit for me and bought me Vitamin C drinks on our road trips and bandaged up my blistered foot was replaced with a new Made who helped himself to the melon I had bought, and didn’t even bother to check if I wanted any, let alone think to leave me any! I had brought him presents—a couple of t-shirts and a nice Calvin Klein cologne—which I gave to him on the first night. Both were white and he seemed disappointed with them. Why you have no other colour? he asked. Because of Christmas, I said. They’d sold out of other colours. I don’t know what he was expecting, but it clearly wasn’t t-shirts and cologne! I had also bought two phones with me—my old iPhone and my new(ish) Samsung—mainly because I had an Indonesian SIM and wanted to keep my Australian SIM for travel alerts etc. from the airlines and didn’t want to keep swapping. When he realised I had two phones, he pointed to my iPhone and asked, That for me? I lied (not a good sign!) and said, No, that’s still mine… the Samsung is my daughter’s. All this made my uneasy, and I thought maybe the new Made is the real Made, and the old one was just for show. Or was it that because I was back, it meant that no effort was required on his part? I thought to myself: how am I going to get through the next three weeks if it’s going to be like this? I can’t be with a man who is unkind and acts purely out of self-interest!

Missing ID: his, not mine

On the third morning, Made went up to the village for a ceremony; he told me he’d be away two or three days. After he’d gone, I gave my passport to the manager to copy so I could be registered. It’s something to do with Indonesian law, and who am I to question it? The manager knew that Made was staying with me, and when she returned my passport, she delicately let me know that he’d have to be registered as well. Again, Indonesian law, plus the head of the compound needed to know who was staying on his property. Fair enough, I thought. They needed a copy of his KTP. He’d know about it, she said. No problem, I said, I’ll let him know. So I called him to let him know, and apparently it’s a big problem (his words), because he said he didn’t have one.

(Odd, I thought. And I hopped on Google and did a bit of quick and dirty research. As a driver, he needs to have his KTP to have a licence. So—three or four odd phone conversations later—when I quizzed him about it, not only did he say he had no KTP, but no driver’s licence, either! When I quizzed him further, he said he didn’t renew his licence because it was too expensive. Hmmm, I thought. But wouldn’t you have to have a KTP to get a licence in the first place? From my research, I discovered the KTP also shows marital status, among other things. Was that what he didn’t want me to see, even though he’d sworn he was divorced? Call me suspicious, but things just weren’t adding up).

It’s such a big problem, that he said he won’t be staying with me, but I was informed that if I needed a taxi just to SMS him or call.

That was it. End of conversation.

So. On my third day in Bali, Made broke up with me.

And the thing is, after the initial jolt and realisation of what happened, I don’t really care.


Made turned up two days later, at around 8pm. It was dark and I was watching Hell on Wheels (which I can highly recommend, by the way) on my laptop and I heard this: Hello? Diana? being called up the stairs.

Frankly, I was surprised and said: What are you doing here? You said you wouldn’t be back. To call or SMS if I needed a taxi (which I had no intention of doing, by the way).

I have KTP, he said.

Really? I said. But you told me you didn’t have one.

Found, he said. I was just joking.

And he showed me his KTP and his driver’s licence. To be honest, they weren’t in his name and the photos didn’t look like him. Both IDs said kawin (married).

That’s not you, I said. I think you’ve been lying to me. You’re married.

No, no, he said. Divorced. I tell you before. This very old.

I wasn’t buying it. At all. I don’t believe you, I said.

And he could tell I wasn’t happy. I stay? he asked. Take shower?

You can have a shower, I relented. But you can’t stay tonight. I’m angry with you. Maybe tomorrow.

The truth is, I knew I didn’t want to see him tomorrow, either. I was buying myself some time.

So he took his shower.

And then he left.

And I haven’t heard from him since.

And I’m not heartbroken.

Not one little bit.


cover essential tips for a hassle-free departure and arrivalReduce your travel stress!

Get your *FREE* copy of Essential Tips for a Hassle-Free Departure and Arrival.


Please share!


  • Donna January 10, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    Look at you being all grown up and not getting hysterical. Loved reading this Di. I must admit a tiny piece of me wanted to tell you to be careful. But sounds like you have it all in hand. How delicious having all that Bali time to yourself now to write and just ‘be’. Enjoy girlfriend! Xx

    • Diane Lee January 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM

      Thank you, my dear. I’ve had my heart stomped on enough times to know not to give to just anybody, no matter how enticing the circumstances may be! I love Bali, and I’m super happy to be back here, even if things didn’t pan out the way I expected. And I’ve gotten so much writing done, which was always the plan xo

  • Melsy January 10, 2016 at 3:33 PM

    What a bummer things didn’t work out, but thank god you found out sooner rather than later what he’s really like! And you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve, which was to see what happens and if it isn’t right, that’s ok. No more time wasted! I wouldn’t mind smacking him though – what a knob end!! Thank goodness for more writing time in a lovely location 🙂

    • Diane Lee January 10, 2016 at 3:57 PM

      Exactly, Melsy. Of course I’m disappointed, but I’m like a rolling stone these days. And I’ve made stellar progress with my novel, which was also one of the reason for coming back 🙂

    • Diane Lee January 10, 2016 at 9:58 PM

      Exactly, Melsy. Of course I’m disappointed, but I’m like a rolling stone these days. And I’ve made stellar progress with my novel, which was also one of the reasons for coming back 🙂

  • Brianne February 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Relationships are tricky, especially when you add cultural differences, lies and everything else. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but sounds like that may be a good thing. Just one more experience to learn from. 😉

    • Diane Lee February 3, 2016 at 11:30 AM

      Exactly, Brianne. I’ll be able to draw on this experience for my writing!

  • Jan at retiringNotshy! February 3, 2016 at 11:47 AM

    I suspect this is a common enough story and whilst the initial temptation must be to feel used I think we need to always remind ourselves that the Balinese think we are all rich (and perhaps some other things as well) . Too many (but not all) have become reliant on international visitors to provide them with money, gifts etc. and it isn’t a good long term model for them or for us.
    Glad you bounced back, Bali is such a favourite place to visit for we Australians.

    • Diane Lee February 3, 2016 at 11:58 AM

      Agree, Jan. I was reminded of the documentary Kuta Cowboys while this was happening, and was mindful of agendas and not investing emotionally. I think that’s why I was able to bounce back as quickly as I did 🙂

  • Ashley February 4, 2016 at 3:03 AM

    I would love to go to Bali and I’ve “fallen in love” with a few guys I’ve met while traveling and was so heartbroken when I had to go back home. Which I then would realize how ridiculous I was being haha! Great read!

    • Diane Lee February 4, 2016 at 6:08 AM

      Thanks, Ashley! I realised early on it probably wasn’t sustainable, which is why I wasn’t too upset about it 😉

  • 5 things I learned about sex from being single for 10 years - Diane Lee July 30, 2016 at 3:06 PM

    […] and, not to put to fine a point on it… sex. And to get both regularly was just lovely. So when it didn’t work out with Made, I decided to reactivate my Oasis profile. How else can I meet men, given the demographics are […]


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.