I did it. Twelve consecutive days of playing poker and 90 hours later, I earned well beyond the amount to justify the purchase. “I deserve them,” I say aloud, holding them to the light. I turn to the salesman Matthew: “How much?”
“5050 HKD” ($650 USD).
“I’ll take them.”
I walk out of Louis Vuitton beaming. When nobody is looking, I actually skip. The delayed gratification of a lavish purchase silences the ache I felt about spending $650 on a pair of sunglasses. Besides, in Bali, Indonesia there’s going to be plenty of sun.
I have 15 minutes to kill at the airport. I run to the gift shop to pick up some last minute items. They’re only 100 HKD ($12 USD). They look just like mine!! What the heck? “One for $650 or two for $662.” I add them to my cart.
As I land at the airport in Ubud, I look for the sign that reads my name. “Alec Torelli.” Mare, my driver, takes me from the airport to my villa. $20. When I arrive, chef Katut greets me. “Welcome Sir.” A private pool, outdoor kitchen, and hand picked fruits spell paradise.
The first thing I sign up for in Bali is a bike tour. It comes not only with two buffets and a trek around the gorgeous island, but an inclusive tasting at the Lawak coffee plantation.
It’s hot and I’m going to sweat profusely so I opt for the cheap shades. They’re ideal for the day, protects with style, and if they break, who cares?
Afterwards I’m exhausted, so I spring for an in house hour long massage. Dinner is free, cooked by the chef using the freshest ingredients from Bali’s local fields. Sensational.
The next few days I don’t do much of anything, just relax. Island living.
I take a two hours daily class for $12 at Yoga Barn, Bali’s premier studio; I visit a monkey forest, where I feed bananas to baboons for free and I do some shopping.
The hand carved wood Buddah statues are perfect for a house center piece. Enjoying a fun game of bargaining, I pick up three plus some unique style clothes. $100.
My week in paradise comes to a bitter sweet end. I tally my expenses:
Room: $40 x 6 = $240
Bike Tour: $40
When I return to Macau, I stop by Louis Vuitton. “Matthew, I don’t normally do this, but I’d like to return these.” When he asks why, I explain to him my shame at spending the same amount for a week in Bali as on a ludicrous purchase. He sympathizes… but “Unfortunately sir, we can’t accept returns after 7 days.” I’m reluctant, happy and sad, in the same time.
At dinner that night, I head to Il Teatro, the Italian restaurant at the Wynn Hotel. A few drinks and three hours later, I leave empty handed. It was’t until the following morning that I realize I left my glasses at the table! “I’m sorry sir,” the Lost and Found tells me, “we can’t locate them.” $650 has never stung so much.
It’s impossible to compare doing something vs. having something. While being bombarded with media and advertisements, we are taught that things will bring us meaning and happiness. We are wrong. The media’s message stems from embedding this falsity deep within to generate revenue at our expense.
Imagine losing your camera or cell phone. The item is replaceable, the content is not. We can acquire, use, break and lose things, but they will never last.
Both my sunglasses and Bali are over.
One is gone forever. The other will last a lifetime. ♠