Nusa Lembongan The Invisible Line


The invisible line is not something you wanna mess with.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michi girl and the shinning beacon of my early teenage years ‘Like I Give A Frock;’ the invisible line (as she describes it) is the radius surrounding you, outlining the acceptable areas to visit when wearing your swimsuit. This radius is a barometer measuring the circumstantial pressure (as apposed to the atmospheric) and dictates the mileage of said radius.

To aid this description let me give you a ‘for instance.’ Say that you live in a somewhat coastal town and it’s hot and you’ve just come from the beach and were on your way home. But low and behold you realise that you’re out of coke and you need to go to the store. Entering one of societies structured enterprises, which capitalises on our life and death needs, wearing a bikini would most definitely be breaking the invisible line. If you can’t see the water and you have phased out of one environmental setting and into an entirely new and extremely air conditioned one you have categorically broken the invisible line and people are entitled to laugh and point.

I have always kept this unwritten rule in the forefront of my mind, especially in the hot season. I pride myself on my dedication to throwing on a hot singlet over wet bathers and sunscreened skin despite the unpleasantness of the sensation. However, as much as it pains me I feel obligated to confess my first lapse in my otherwise flawless track record.

I’m someone who likes to be respectful of others’ customs and so when packing for Bali I was contemplating how to hit the trifecta of modest, cool and somewhat stylish, when my mother came in and said I’d be crazy to wear anything long sleeved in that humidity. And that truthfully the only thing I was accomplishing in those outfit choices was ‘modest’. I came to understand that Bali was a different kind of place, so overrun by Australian tourists that there could be little done to shock them. This logic not only guided me through my packing but, to my horror, extended to my judgement concerning the appropriateness of swimwear. I had it in my mind that walking from one beach to another via a beach track was still honouring the invisible line and all of it’s obvious rationality. However, in all my feelings of comfort in this friendly place I failed to take into account my new environment. I momentarily forgot that I was on a small island in Indonesia and that I was acting like what some refer to as a ‘dumb western tourist.’

In the process of walking I bumped into local construction workers and let me just tell you of all the ways they could have reacted I don’t think anything was quite so humiliating as the intense laughter that followed my presence. It truthfully still echoes in my ears today. Emily Post is still trying to get over it beyond the grave. In the end I had to bombard some Parisian backpackers on my way back to my villa, pleading with them to let me shadow them on my way back (naively hoping that I would be able to fade into the background behind these two other tourists, who by the way were dressed in Emily Post approved traveling ensembles) but it didn’t work, I was still met with their same overwhelming response of hilarity at the situation. So much so that the French girl I was with felt the need to call me brave with that apprehensive tone (you know the one I’m talking about). Brave. Taking into account that brave was a thinly veiled attempt to mask her actual thoughts on how stupid I was and that she went to the effort to protect my feelings in her second language, I was kind of touched but also horrified.

Suffice to say that I will return to overanalysing the locals potential responses to my attire and will never again dance with the invisible line. I think perhaps the saddest part of this transgression, is that I’ve been knocked off my high horse and now can no longer laugh at those who wear bikini tops in the freezer section of the supermarket.