Hello again! It feels like it has been quite a while since I have posted on here. We have done so much since we left Lombok, so I won’t waste any time getting down to it!
Anyone that has been following along our blog posts will remember that we did a day trip to Ubud during our first week in Bali. But we were motivated to go back when we found out that our friends from back home, Erica and Dustin, were going to be arriving there at around the same time that we were getting bored of Lombok. Excited to see these friends again (even though I had only met them briefly at a wedding one year ago), we hopped on the first ferry out of Lombok to head back to the Bali island. Our taxi driver decided to run some personal errands on the way to the ferry, so we had to sprint with our backpacks and basically had to jump on the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.
I am so happy that we decided to go back to Ubud. The day trip that we had done before had given us a glimpse into the city, but we certainly hadn’t got the real feel of it yet. Once settled in our beautiful home stay, Marni and I headed to a groovy cafe to listen to some live music, eat some chow, and wait for our buddies to come and find us. I remember sitting there trying to remember what Dustin and Erica even looked like – our initial meeting at a mutual friends wedding had been very brief and casual. But sure enough, they managed to find us and we began what turned out to be an amazing week in Ubud.
During that week we pretty much hung out together constantly. We rented scooters to check out a waterfall and the “Elephant Temples”. We watched a traditional fire dance. We did a meditation course together. Marno taught us a yoga class. Dustin and Erica even let us lounge around their pool. But most importantly, we ate most meals together at some really incredible restaurant which allowed us to have some truly amazing conversations. It’s funny to think that at the start of that week I hardly knew these guys, but now I feel like they are some of the best friends that I’ve ever had. Although we come from the same place geographically, our life stories have been drastically different and I have learned so much from them. I’m blessed to be given this time to be able to not worry about money, jobs, and hectic schedules – I can spend all the time in the world getting to know the people that cross my path.
After a full week in Ubud, we knew it was time to get back on the road again. But honestly I could have spent the rest of my life there. I know I’ll be back one day! Dustin and Erica set sail for the Gili’s, and we decided to head south to Padang-Padang because we were missing the beach! It sucked saying goodbye to D & E, but we figured we might meet again in Thailand or something.
Padang-Padang is located on the very southern tip of Bali. Holy smokes it was an adventure getting settled into Padang-Padang (make sure you read Marns hilarious blog about it). We didn’t know until we arrived that it is completely filled with surfer-dudes looking to catch some “gnarly waves”. Marni had a toe injury so we didn’t end up surfing, but that didn’t stop us from having a great three days there. We quickly fell into a routine of yoga, breakfast, beach/pool time, lunch, more beach, dinner, beers. Oh yeah, that reminds me…how’s everyone enjoying work?
We had planned to catch a series of busses to leave Bali and get to the Java island of Indonesia. But just out of curiosity we decided to see how much a flight would cost. $50 each for an hour flight from Bali to Yogyakarta! This meant that it would be cheaper than roughly 40 hours on overnight busses. A no-brainer, we purchased the tickets and headed for the airport.
Yogyakarta, pronounced and often even spelled Jogjakarta (Jogja), is considered by our guidebook to be “a city of art and culture and a hotbed of Javanese intellectual and political thought”. When we arrived in the city, located in south-cereal Java, we were pleased to discover that we were officially out of the tourist zone. Unlike Bali and some of the surrounding islands, we struggled to find someone that spoke enough English to point us in the direction of the bus station that we knew would get us to our hotel for the cheapest price. Once we finally got on the right bus, we stressed about how the hell to know which station to get off at. It was stressful, but I was loving every minute of it. I didn’t leave Canada to breeze through every obstacle so it was a fun kind of stress. And we learned very quickly that Javanese people are SO incredibly friendly and more than happy to help you out, even if they don’t speak a lick of English. We managed to hop off at the right bus station and started a new adventure of finding our hotel. Long story short, we eventually got there.
I was lucky enough to learn a lesson almost immediately after we got settled into our hotel. Wandering around the massive street-market, I was constantly getting into broken-English conversations with various people. I thought to myself, and probably out loud to Marni, “Here we go again, just like Bali. All these people see me as a walking wallet and I’m going to be repeating ‘No thank you’ over and over until I finally decide to leave the market from exhaustion”. But I started to notice something different about these conversations…they actually ended without me being asked to buy something. It turned out most of these people were actually genuinely interested in what my name is, where I’m from, where I’m going next. I felt guilty for making such stupid assumptions about these people, so I tried to make up for it by really engaging in these brief conversations. I later learned that many of the people I was interacting with were actually university students just looking for an opportunity to practice their English. No matter where you go, people just want to connect.
After a full day of seeing the sights, we learned that Dustin and Erica were going to meet up with us again! We were so pumped to learn that their plans had changed so that we could hang with them some more.
But we had a full day before they would be meeting us at our hotel, so we decided to not waste the day. We knew that we wanted to go to Borobudur (largest Buddhist temple in the world), it was just a matter of how. We could get the tourist bus for $20, or rent a motorbike for $7. Common – you know by now what we chose.
Holy shit, the 1.5 hour ride to and from the temple was probably the craziest thing that I have ever done…and I’ve jumped out of an airplane before. Pretending to be confident for Marni’s sake, I whizzed out onto the highway that was crawling with busses, bikes, horses, and pedestrians. I could feel Marni’s nails digging into my back as we passed busses on the shoulder at 75km/hr. Busses would come straight at us in our lane because, apparently, the larger vehicle has the right of way. Once at Borobudur, I struggled to attain englightenment because my adrenaline was still pumping at an all time high. On the way home we got insanely lost, but again we reminded ourselves to enjoy every minute of the (mis)adventure.
After a chill day in Yogyakarta with Dustin & Erica, we all decided to check out Dieng Plateau, using Wonosobo as a hub to do a day trip from. The bus that we arrived in Wonosobo in might as well have been a spaceship because we were aliens to everyone in Wonosobo. This was my first experience being stared at by literally EVERYONE. As we wandered the streets people blatantly pointed at us as they whispered to their friends. It was quite unnerving at first, but I soon learned that giving a big smile seemed to remind most people that I am in fact a human. I imagine my ginger hair/beard is an especially rare sight.
But those initial feelings that I got did get me thinking. It was a very small taste of what it must feel like to walk around in Canada with a physical disfiguration, a mental disorder, or even a Niqab. I know that I’ve been guilty of doing “double-takes” when I see something “out of the ordinary” on the streets of Calgary. I realize that it is only natural for humans to be naturally curious, but I do think it is important to think about how our actions (even ones as small as a double-take) can affect others. I’m so grateful for that real life reminder!
Today we caught a public bus (a whole other story) up to Dieng Plateau. It was seriously one of the best days of my life. We hiked through these incredible farmers fields/terraces to get to a view point of a lake that had been turned aqua-blue by the sulphur deposits (reminded me of Lake Louise). We saw so many fruits and vegetables being grown on seemingly impossible slopes that had been painstakingly cut out by the cutest little farmers. We also saw Kawah Sidang: a steaming and bubbling mud pool that smelled like death himself (as you can see from the picture below) . It was one of our most active and eventful days yet, and we only spent roughly $10 after accommodation. Loving life.
Tomorrow we head to Pangandaran because the four of us have rented a house in a rice field for a week. It has a pool and laundry service (thank god). And some beginner waves so I can finally get on a board. We’ve been moving around a lot in the last few weeks so I’m super excited to settle down for a little bit.
Missing all you beautiful souls back in Alberta, BC, and now South Africa. I love you all and I hope everyone’s happy, happy, happy!