It has been a busy couple of weeks since I last made a post on here. I feel like we are really getting into the groove of travelling now. For the first week of our adventure, it was difficult for me to stay in the present moment because my mind was still so wrapped up in the month that led up to our departure. I struggled to get away from the emotions that came from quitting our jobs, saying goodbye to loved ones, and leaving my beloved Rocky Mountains. But as each sun rises, I feel more and more confident that the risk we decided to take is already paying off immensley – perhaps even more than I realize.
From Nusa Lembongan, we caught an early morning boat that would eventually get us to Gili T. On the boat, we made friends with a young couple that like in the UK, on an island called Jersey. Comparing our home countries left me super surprised that anyone can live in Jersey. Apparently the cheapest home there costs about 1 million pounds – meaning that most kids live with their parents until they die so they can inherit the home. As for hobbies in Jersey, it sounds like it’s mostly drinking and watching football (soccer). I took two things away from this conversation. First, I was reminded (again) of how good we have it in Canada. I was able to move out of my folks place at a young age, rent my own apartment, and start figuring out how to be an independent adult. Sounds next to impossible in Jersey. The second thing that I took from this conversation, and many others I’ve had here, is that travelling around Asia is not only going to open my eyes to what it’s like to be an Indonesian, Malaysian, etc – I will also learn so much from my fellow travellers. If I hadn’t been on that boat, I would never even know that Jersey existed, never mind what football club they support, or how excited they were to finally get a McDonald’s. Every backpacker we meet has all the time in the world to chat, so conversations tend to be more in-depth than what I’m used to.
We arrived in Gili T, starving our asses off. We quickly dumped our bags at the hostel before getting the worst meal of our lives. You know it’s bad when Marni has one bite, pushes the plate away, and says “no effing way”. Lunch #2 that day was way better!
Gili T is one of three “Paradise Islands” located about one hour off the southeast coast of Bali. Each of the islands has a completely different vibe – and Gili T is definitely the party island. We couldn’t walk down the street without being offered hash or “Charlie” (code for cocaine we assumed). And no matter what food we ordered, they insisted that they add some of their famous Magic Mushrooms to the mix. Happy with just our Bintang beer, we partied late into the night with some amazing Californian girls that we had met earlier in the day. We then nursed our hangovers with lots of beach time, yoga, and bike rides for two more amazing days. Gili Ts sunset was easily the best that we have seen yet.
Gili Air is often referred to as the “family island”. We were SO happy to arrive on this island because we had grown tired of the never ending hawkers/drug dealers on Gili T. Marvin loves to party, but we don’t want that to be the focus of this trip. Gili Air was exactly what we were looking for. First off, we stayed in a beautiful bamboo hut with an outdoor toilet. Amazing to poop outside. Secondly, Gili Air had the friendliest locals that we have encountered since we landed in Indo. People seemed so genuinely interested in our story and our future plans. Of course there were hawkers, but they knew how to take “no” for an answer. Days moved nice and slow as we buried our noses in books, sipped mango smoothies, and finished every day with a sunset dinner and our toes in the sand.
One of the most memorable things for me about our time in Gili Air was a long conversation Marni and I finally had about our time at the group home. Up to this point we had basically refused to discuss it. I think we have both now had enough time to reflect on our time there, the good and the bad. What we uncovered is how we are both still so upset about how things ended. How it wasn’t fair to us. How we gave everything we had but had to leave because we felt so undervalued and under appreciated. How hard it was to say goodbye to the kids we loved with our whole hearts. How hard it must have been for them to be let down by yet another adult they learned to trust. I would never take the experience back, not even how it came to a close. Because we learned SO much – personally and professionally. If all we are is a culmination of our experiences, then it is my responsibility to put myself in situations that will foster the person I hope to one day become.
Just before leaving Gili Air to catch a 30 minute ferry to Lombok, we met a couple name Shey and Angelina. As it turns out, we had way more in common than just our next destination. They are from Calgary, have been saving for 2 years for a world trip, we have the same tattoos, Angelina works with kids, Shey worked for (what felt like) free for a summer in Kelowna (like me). The list goes on and on…it was kind of creepy actually. But they were big time beauties so we decided to travel with them to Senggigi, where I sit right now. A great thing about travelling with a group is that transportation costs can be split up amongst everyone. We took advantage of this by hiring a driver for the day to take us to some STUNNING waterfalls in Senaru, a small village in the North of Lombok.
Our driver was a Hindu man living on a largely Muslim island. He taught us so much about the similarities and differnces between the religions. But what stood out for me is when he explained the love he has for his Muslim “brothers and sisters”, because “respect is the only way”. I feel so blessed to be finally getting all of the fucked up ideas I’ve somehow taken on about Islam beaten out of me with a “reality stick”. In Canada, where we seem to only hear about crooked “Muslim” extremists, it’s impossible to not let that that slowly get ingrained in you, despite all your best intentions to be open-minded. For me, actually meeting, actually feeling the love of my Muslim brothers and sisters is what it’s taken to ACTUALLY open my mind to the beauty of their religion. And I still have SO much to learn – very exciting.
Speaking of Islamic extremists, I strongly recommend everyone read “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout. It’s about an Albertan freelance-journalist who was held for ransom by Somalian criminals. It might be the best book I have ever read!
Tomorrow we head back to Bali to meet some other Calgary friends to climb a couple of mountains/volcanoes!
Thanks for sticking with me through this mess of a post. Love you all! Terima kasih!