Being able to call Bali my home for the last four months has been nothing short of amazing. I met some awesome people from all over the world, saw some stunning scenery, experienced a string of near-daily earthquakes, and made many unforgettable memories. First and foremost, I … have… a… BOYFRIEND! Cue your mouth dropping to the floor. Mary Poppins has found her Bert! Or as Flynn would say, Laura has found her Llyod! I know you are all dying to hear the details as it’s been nearly seven years since these words have come out of my mouth so here we go…
Anthony and I first met back in January in a Kuala Lumpur hostel. I had been doing research on my laptop for Adam and my Thailand trip for a few hours when I heard, “Are you working hard or hardly working?” Quite the pickup line, I know… I gladly welcomed the break and we hung out for a few hours until I headed to the airport to catch my flight to Bali. He was also planning on going to Bali two weeks later to celebrate his birthday so we exchanged Facebook Messenger and off I went.
Remember when I randomly went to that AirBNB in Balian Beach with the two Americans for two days? Anthony was one of them. We spent two weeks together in Bali and then parted ways as I was heading to Thailand to get certified to teach English and then off to Cambodia and Nepal with Flynn.
Fast forward to May, I got a random phone call from him about three days before I was flying back to Bali to start this whole teaching gig. Turns out, he never left Bali from the time he first arrived back in January, apart from visa runs. Bali is truly THAT amazing! About a week after I arrived back in Bali, we met up for dinner and the rest is history.
Fun facts about Anthony: He was born in Jamaica, immigrated to the US when he was nine, and became a US citizen in 2002. He served in the Marine Corps. You know I like those military men! He has been traveling in Asia since February 2017. He meets my four minimum requirements of 1) Doesn’t live with his parents, 2) Is financially stable, 3) Doesn’t have kids, and 4) Believes in God. He crushes my “It’d be a bonus if he was…. List”, but I’m sure you have better things to do than hear me gush about how wonderful of a man he is.
So without further ado, here are some of the highlights since the last blog post (Full disclosure – Anthony has granted me permission to write about him without any sensors. Bless those famous last words of his) :
7/29 – Sunday morning as I was lying in bed awake at 6:30am (thanks rooster who lives behind my house), I started to feel an earthquake. Here we go again. Although this time, it wasn’t over in a minute and was stronger than the previous ones. Um… why is it still happening? At what point do I get out of bed and take cover?? What would I even hide under? Our dining room table outside??? But if I’m outside, I might as well just stand in the rice terrace as nothing would fall on me there… As I was lost in these thoughts (and still lying in bed), the earthquake stopped. A quick Google search informed me the earthquake was, in fact, the biggest one I’ve been in…. a 6.4!
8/1 Anthony and I went on a weekend getaway to Uluwatu to check out the southern part of Bali. I was a little hesitant at first as we had never spent more than 16 hours together and I like my own space. We didn’t really do much besides work and check out the nightlife at Single Fin. We spent most of the day in our little villa. On Sunday, as we were eating breakfast before heading back to Canggu (where we both lived in Bali), we were reflecting on the weekend. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m actually surprised I didn’t get annoyed of you and or feel like I needed space. I was a bit nervous about this weekend before we came down here, ” I said. “I was thinking the same thing, ” Anthony replied with a smile. This might actually work out…
8/4 – After the successful Uluwatu weekend, Anthony and I decided to try our luck again with another mini vacation and spent four days in Ubud. After checking in to our AirBNB, we drove up north to GitGit Waterfall as it had been on my list to check out since I was first in Bali back in January 2017. And I wanted to see if Anthony could keep up with my adventurous side. After a short little hike down through a forest, we arrived at the first of seven waterfalls. The area around these waterfalls was even cooler than I expected. There were some awesome photo ops; there was a giant swing; there was a cliff jumping platform! You know I love a good cliff jump! Anthony declined my offer of cliff jumping so I had him be my photographer and videographer instead. This could really work out!
After a few hours of fun in the sun, we began our two hour journey back to Ubud. About an hour in, the sun had gone down, it was raining pretty heavily, and my phone had died. I was set on making it back to our AirBNB by all means necessary, but Anthony was quite the opposite. My view: we already paid for the AirBNB, I have my rain jacket on, we’re only an hour away, this will be quite the adventure trying to navigate our way back in the dark and rain! This is AMAZING! Why does he keep stopping? Why is he grumpy? He’s being such a diva. I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep up with me. Looks like I’ll still get to have real adventures by myself. His view: This is dangerous. Why take the risk? I’m cold. There’s a hotel just up the road we can stay in. This experience is not the reason I’m traveling. This is her view of fun? What is wrong with her?!
After some discussion, we ended up staying the night in Saranam Resort as it was the first, and really only, hotel in the area. And oh… my… gosh… it was BEAUTIFUL and luxurious! I’m talking pillowtop mattress, plush robes, a balcony overlooking rice terraces, pool, two restaurants on-site, etc. Full on resort in the middle of nowhere. We lived like a king and queen for the night and soaked up all their amenities, including a fantastic breakfast complete with Western foods that I had been desperately missing.
8/5 – After arriving back in Ubud and settling into our hotel, I began my evening shift of teaching. In the middle of a class, I felt shaking and heard the dishes rattling in our kitchenette. Eh, it’ll stop here shortly like all the others. This time, however, it kept getting stronger and it wasn’t stopping. All of a sudden, I yelled to my student, “Shit, I’m in an earthquake!” and went into full-on panic mode. Since I was teaching out on our balcony, I ran inside, threw my computer on the table, and sprinted outside towards the street. That’s when I realized that I didn’t even think about making sure Anthony got out as well. I think I’ve been single for too long…. Do I go back inside to get him? Is it safer to stay out here? He surely must have felt that even though he was in the upstairs of our hotel room. But what if he’s sleeping? Does he know what to do in an earthquake? After going back to get him, we had a discussion on what we should do if another earthquake happens again. After some quick Google searches, we found out that earthquake hit the next door island of Lombok and was a 7.0.
We felt numerous aftershocks through the night and well into the next few days. On August 9th, when we were back in Canggu, Lombok was hit again with another earthquake; this time a 6.2.
Over the next two weeks, 20+ earthquakes (5.5 or smaller) were felt on the island of Bali. It got to the point that most times I couldn’t tell if I was still feeling aftershocks or if my mind was playing tricks on me so I ended up putting a glass of water on my dresser. If I was feeling shaking, I just looked at the glass of water to see if it was also moving. Due to all these earthquakes/aftershocks, there was some chatter about a threat of a tsunami coming. There’s really not too much you can do to protect yourself from a tsunami when you’re on a small island. After some discussion with my two roommates, we came up with our own evacuation plan —- grab surfboards and attach them to our ankles. Surfboards float and are pretty durable. Never in my life did I think I’d have to have evacuation plans for both earthquakes and tsunamis. My, how my life has changed….
8/11 – I had been taking Indonesian classes consistently for about a month at this point. Whenever I interacted with a local, I would try to speak to them in Indonesian for as much as I could before switching over to English. On a few intoxicated nights, I seamlessly spoke in both English and Indonesian to Anthony, only to realize later that he doesn’t understand any Indonesian. Is this the first sign of fluency in a second language?!
8/14 – After two successful trips around Bali, we decided to go on one last trip to make sure traveling together could actually be a reality. We decided to treat ourselves to four days at that REALLY nice resort we stayed in on a whim during the bad rainstorm the previous week. After checking in to our room, Anthony used the bathroom. Soon after, I heard, “Um… shit. SHIT. ” He came out of the bathroom and said, “We’re about to get really close…. everything that I just did in the toilet… is now all over the floor…. DON’T GO OR LOOK IN THERE!” After laughing for a solid ten minutes, we had maintenance clean up the bathroom while we were upgraded to the business suite. Yep, I think we’ll be just fine traveling together.
The next day we drove two hours to Aling-Aling Waterfall. I was super excited to go there as there were a couple of highly sought-after cliff-jumping spots. In true fashion, Anthony stayed down low to video/photograph me while I gleefully hopped off 5, 10, and 15 meter (16, 32, and 49 feet) high cliffs. On the walk back to our scooters, Anthony said, “You’re the first person I’ve dated with this personality. Like, you talk about doing all these cool and extreme things and then you ACTUALLY do them with no hesitation!”
8/25 – With Anthony being a big movie buff (he’s seen every movie that has come out in theaters in the last 3 years), we went to a real movie theater to watch Mile 22. The showing that we wanted was already sold out upon arrival, so the cashier offered us a showing 45 minutes later in their Premier Experience. So for $7 each, we got blankets, comfortable leather recliners, and they only allowed a total of 16 people in the theater. I could get used to this! A movie in a regular theater in the US is at least $10 and that’s if you go to a matinee! After the lights dimmed, the previews started rolling. Only in Indonesia do you watch the trailer before the show starts. Yes, literally the last preview before the movie started was the trailer!
8/28 – I was randomly thinking about my teeth one day. I usually get my teeth cleaned twice a year, but since traveling, I haven’t had a cleaning in 2 years. After getting a recommendation from one of my local friends, I headed to the dentist. My bathroom was bigger than her office. The equipment was from the 70s complete with a spit sink, but it smelled like a dentist office back in the States so I went with it. 30 minutes and $20 USD later (without insurance), my teeth were sparkling clean! I will definitely be back to her next time I’m in Bali.
8/31 – Ooo… this was a rough one… I had a complete mental breakdown day. I wound up at Anthony’s with tears streaming down my face and a racing mind that I couldn’t quiet down. I hate teaching! I feel so burnt out. But if I don’t teach, how will I continue to travel? Anthony and I will now be traveling AND living together. My minimum requirements in accommodation are much lower than his, so how do I find us a place that stays within my budget but that’s he’s happy with? I really need to buy another round of health insurance. Etc. Etc. Basically, I was stressing out about money. Back in the States, I had always kept to a strict budget while still being able to put money away into savings after each paycheck. I knew exactly how much was coming in and how much I was spending. But with traveling and teaching, a) you don’t entirely know your budget before entering a country and b) students can cancel class up to a minute before which causes me to lose out on money I had already anticipated getting. Even though I open my hours up for 40 hours per week, it greatly varies on how much I actually teach. If I don’t teach a class due to a cancellation or the slot not getting filled, then I don’t get paid for it. It’s even worse than an hourly job because at least with hourly, you are essentially guaranteed those hours for the shift that is assigned to you. I’m really just living paycheck to paycheck at this point and I have NEVER done that in my life. You can do research up to your ears, but you still don’t have an exact understanding of what just basic items cost such as water, local food, transportation, etc. So I was majorly stressing out as Anthony and I were headed to Hong Kong for a week and then off to Taiwan. A few days after he talked me down off the ledge, I was able to come to some conclusions:
Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you work less… it really just means you can work from anywhere in the world. You’re able to live in some of the most exotic places that other people only get to experience during a short five-day vacation. You get the chance to live like a local and really immerse yourself into the culture rather than just be a tourist. Teaching English is definitely not something I want to do for the rest of my life, but it’s what allows me to continue to travel the world right now.
While I’ll definitely miss Bali, I’m excited to explore new cultures and countries again. A little piece of me, rather a LARGE piece, is sad that I can’t say I’m solo traveling anymore. I love the look/reaction I get when locals/other travelers find out I’m traveling by myself, especially as a female. It’s that look of utter disbelief mixed with respect that I crave. I also like being able to do what I want, when I want, without having to take other people into consideration. Since Anthony and I started making plans to travel together, I’ve had numerous conversations with Barb about this internal struggle. The best advice she gave me was, “You’ve never traveled with a significant other before. Maybe you’ll enjoy it even more than solo travel.”
I guess we’ll find out soon enough…