Nervous excitement. Melancholy. Relief. These are the emotions dancing through my stomach this evening as I wait for my redeye flight out of Bali and into Australia. It’s hard to believe my two months in Indonesia have come to a close—and even stranger to comprehend that my time in Southeast Asia is ending.
After living in Asia for two years and traveling Southeast Asia for seven months I’m about to be shot like a cannon back into the first world. Cheese! Craft beer! Salads! Toilet paper! Traffic laws! People that understand what I’m saying!
It might actually be too much to handle. I’m already envisioning a mental breakdown from all the options in the grocery store. A very, very happy breakdown that involves drool on the refrigerator case and collapsing into a pile of grateful tears on the floor of the wine section.
I am so ready for it. I have loved Southeast Asia, but Indonesia has worn me down. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my experiences here, but the corruption, filth, obsession with tourist dollars, and the fact that money always wins has become draining.
But all of that aside, I’ve had an amazing month traveling through Bali with my parents! How lucky am I that they flew 21 hours to come see me?! Of course the location may have had something to do with it. I also now weigh an extra 7 pounds due to mass consumption of dessert. It got to the point that once a day wasn’t enough. Gelato and cheesecake in the same day?!! I narrowly avoided a diabetic coma.
Anyway, here are the shenanigans we got up to in between binge eating:
We spent a week in the cultural capital of Bali and let our inner hippies loose. Lots of yoga, salad, and meditating ensued. We rented a driver and spent a day touring around the sites outside of Ubud like the rice terraces, Mt Batur volcano, and approximately 8,541 temples. We also paid a visit to a producer of Kopu Luwak, otherwise known as coffee made from a cat’s poop. Post on that coming soon.
On the northern coast is a town whose entire tourist economy seems to be based on one thing: dolphins. I was ecstatic about the opportunity to finally fulfill my fantasy of swimming with dolphins in their natural environment (at which point they will offer me a dorsal fin ride and welcome me into their pod as an honorary member) but I was sorely disappointed. At sunrise over 100 boats sat in the water and chased after any sighting of dolphins, immediately driving them away. It was mayhem. We promptly decided to get the hell out of Lovina.
Another small town entirely supported by the diving industry, Tulamben at least had a more laid back feel. My dad and I dived on the famous Liberty shipwreck, an American ship sunk by a Japanese torpedo in WWII. Then I brought down the house singing with a band and remembered how weird my life is.
Off the southern tip of Bali sits a series of three smaller islands who are quickly becoming the latest tourist hotspot. We went primarily for the diving and were not disappointed. Within the first 5 minutes we saw the elusive and bizarre looking Mola Mola. On our second dive we witnessed at least a dozen giant manta rays swimming in gentle circles all around us. We spent a day motorbiking around the islands and also dedicated a fair amount of time to eating and lounging by a pool.
After returning to the mainland we did a day trip to some lovely beaches and the famous temple of Uluwatu. Perched high up on a cliff, Uluwatu offers some breathtaking views of the ocean and we soaked it in as the sun set on the horizon. We stayed to watch the Kecak performance, a unique dance presentation accompanied by 40 shirtless men chanting an intense rhythm. There was dancing, fancy costumes, fire, and of course I was the one person brought on stage, put in a wig, and made to dance with a man in a monkey suit. Typical.
Finally it came time to say goodbye and I sent my parents off to the Gili Islands while I prepare for a new chapter of the journey on a whole new continent. The next time I write to you I’ll be saying G’day, mate!