Taking a moment
“After our basic needs are met, how do we choose a focus? For many of us, the answer is surprisingly simple: We choose to embrace a quest, and we choose to live for adventure.” Chris Guillebeau
Arriving at International Departures on December 4th 2015, the morning after a final night out with girlfriends and after saying goodbye to my self-proclaimed nieces, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. I was incredibly excited for the journey ahead, but leaving Sydney meant leaving my friends, leaving my friends meant not seeing them on a daily or weekly basis anymore. I suddenly felt sad. I spent all this time building relationships, connections and comfort in a certain place, to then leave it behind. What was the point? I spent so much energy preparing for this trip that I didn’t take a moment to really take in and respect what it meant to leave. So here I was, at the airport, taking a moment. The truth is, I didn’t really need a point. I could have easily listed several, but concluded that for me, it was enough knowing I had people to love, people to miss and people to come back to.
I knew what I had to do. I had to get on that plane and start the adventure I’d been anticipating for over 2 years. Once I got my first passport stamp, I knew, more than anything, I was exactly where I needed to be.
Welcome to Bali
I stepped out of the airport and had my first bartering experience with the local Balinese hustlers. It was aggressive, pushy and demanding. I knew then that this was going to be a skill I needed to master, or I wouldn’t survive. If you don’t push back and challenge the initial cost, you’re likely to pay twice, sometimes three times as much as it’s worth. It’s the curse of being a tourist and there’s no getting around it, except by getting good at it. There’s simply no time for being polite in these parts, at least when it comes to sales.
I asked an immigration officer where I might find a cheaper option to get to our hotel instead paying the expensive rates at the taxi rank. He advised me to go to up an escalator to a different road and wait for a Blue Bird taxi, so I did as he suggested. Fortunately, Blue Bird taxis are metered, so you pay per KM instead of a random number thrown at you. The cost ended up being half the price of the original quote. So here was my first lesson in Bali – sometimes it pays off to browse.
As we made our way to the hotel, I looked out the window to the conditions of the houses, the burning garbage and the malnourished animals, I had a feeling this would a place of transition. Given that I travelled around New Zealand and Australia before coming to Indonesia, no doubt Bali was going to be an entirely different experience. It was time to ditch my Western world expectations, which is easier said than done.
Admittedly, my lifestyle in Sydney set the bar pretty high. I spent over 3 years in a bustling city that offers everything and anything you need. From funky restaurants and dive bars in Newtown, to casual Fish and Chips shops on Bondi beach, to fine dining and leisure at Circular Quay. With unrivalled entertainment offing festivals, concerts, shows and sporting events, it’s nearly impossible to be bored in Sydney. It’s a place of wealth and prestige with ample opportunity to make money and build a career. It’s a city of green lush parks, clean air, excellent public transport and a breathtaking coastline. After being there for so long, I had adapted to these luxuries. But now my challenge was to adapt to new luxuries, different luxuries.
Here I am, in Bali, sitting bumper-to-bumper in traffic, trying desperately not to take a deep breath. I’d just been scammed by a tuk-tuk driver and couldn’t find a good coffee anywhere. Not to mention, my breakfast of “avocado on toast” was actually blended up avocado puree slopped on a white piece of bread. Bali was determined to test my patience.
With its non-existent road regulations, pollution, and the hassling and hustling of ambiguous prices, I had two options. I could hold on to my standards of living from Sydney, judge the country as inadequate, stay annoyed at everyone in Bali and live miserably ever after. Or, I could respect and acknowledge my irritation, remind myself that it’s all part of the experience, take a deep breath and let it go. After all, I’m travelling through Asia over the next 8 months and a healthy mindset is sort of a necessity. The second option was the only option.
A quest in defined as “a long or arduous search for something.” If it’s easy, it’s not a quest. That’s what keeps me going!
My next post will include travel tips relevant to the places I went to in Bali. Feel free to check it out!
Until next time!
These kinds of challenges will give you character and perspective. Don’t you remember South America? “Pappas rellenas?” And when you get back to the West, as much as we all love to curse it’s gluttony, sloth and inequality, you will appreciate the comfort it offers.
Haha do I remember South America, yes!! I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. That’s a good point Dan! Thanks.