A few weeks in Bali have spanned a wide range of emotions. I’m slowly beginning to adjust to life here. Alone. When I first arrived, I felt anxious and feared that I’d done the wrong thing coming so far. Doubting my ability to survive on my own I started worrying that maybe I needed to be closer to home.
Close to the airport, I booked the first few nights in a village called Kuta. Kuta is full of bars, restaurants and has a large market full of very pushy sellers. All of this was making me a bit nervous. I wanted to go and experience the lifestyle, but I felt a bit uneasy like I stood out for being alone. Nevertheless, I left my hotel and ventured out. The next day I went a little further and the next day further. On the third day, I found my confidence. I ate in the local restaurants and visited a few bars. I even bartered with the market sellers for souvenirs.
Traveling from Kuta to Canggu, I was driven by a local female taxi driver, Melly. I felt at ease with her. Relaxing into life in Bali came slowly, but as the locals extended their hospitality and I flourished. I spent hours wandering around trying different Indonesian cuisine and soaking up the culture.
Although where I was staying in Canggu was not really what I was expecting. It was far from what felt like everywhere. I was advised to rent a scooter but due to my previous surgery, I couldn’t drive a scooter. I would have to resort to taxis or walking. I wasn’t really enjoying the stay there, but I put it down to experience and walked around the local community. It was full of locals and their traditional houses and warungs. I got to immerse myself in their way of life and experience the culture. This was a bit of the real Bali that I was glad to have seen.
After getting used to living here for a few days I messaged Melly and she came and picked me up and drove me to Ubud where I would stay for a week. After a couple of days in a new place, and some time to find my bearings I settled in and everything got easier. It didn’t take long to stop thinking about home. In fact, I hardly thought about it at all. I left it behind along my apprehension about traveling alone and going to Indonesia. Soon my apprehension became about going back home and returning to work. In such a short time, the tables had turned.
In Ubud, I resided in a homestay. The host, Petu, was a young, petite woman who would take my breakfast orders every morning and bring it to the balcony. I would sit and ponder the day’s plans, looking out across the terrace. Rooftops dotted the landscape for miles in one direction, often with others out enjoying their morning on terraces. The other direction was thick with lush greenery where palm trees with coconuts and banana trees grew. Along with breakfast Petu also organized a trip for me to visit the temples nearby and the rice terraces.
I was picked up at 9 a.m. that morning and spent the whole day with Petu’s friend, Maddy. He drove me everywhere I wanted to go, waiting for me to look around and take pictures of the temples. We stopped at a beautiful place to eat, the garden was full of tropical flowers and butterflies. After a traditional lunch, we visited a waterfall and then the coffee plantation on the way back. At times I’d been a bit lonely, everyone else seemed to be together but overall I felt proud of myself.
After a week of hustle, bustle and sightseeing in Ubud, I decided to take the fast boat to the Gili Islands in search of a more laid-back lifestyle. A minibus picked me and a few others up as we descended an hour of terrifying driving down to the port.
The port was packed with tourists waiting to board boats to Lombok and the Gili Islands. As the boat came in, we all scrambled across the boiling hot sand to the boat. The crossing was rough that day and took longer than expected. When we finally arrived, we were herded across the sand to underneath the trees. They left us with the instructions to wait for another boat.
After another long wait and another boat, we were actually on Gili Air. The whole journey from Ubud to Gili Air had taken about six hours.
I had begun to see a pattern in the traveling I was doing. Confronting a new place, settling, uproot, repeat. I plan on relaxing and have plenty of time to enjoy this hard-to-reach, tiny paradise island. But in the meantime, I think I have finally made comfort in the fact that every new place I go I will head there alone.