It’s been nine days since we’ve come to Bali in the middle of the night and so far I’ve had quite a few ups and downs. These are mainly rooted in the fact that our daily life here differs a lot from the life we had in Australia and it takes time getting used to all of that. Here are a few examples:
- There is So. Much. To. See. Seriously. While Australia was a lot about wide open spaces and long distances between things for us, Bali is a small island and so far there is always things like houses, temples, people, dogs, chicken, food stalls and restaurants around. So our general pace has slowed down quite a bit but I don’t mind – it’s really interesting!
- There is always someone around. While it was relatively easy to find a secluded (but still somehow accessible by road) space to camp in Australia, finding that spot would be a real challenge here. I miss being alone in nature sometimes.
- Exchange rates are in our favour which makes for two of the most considerable changes in our routines. In Australia we mostly slept in our tent and occasionally in beds while staying with hosts. Here accommodation is affordable even with our small budget and so is eating out in food stalls and small restaurants. So we haven’t spent a single night in our tent so far and we haven’t even bought fuel for our stove yet. While that does have its upsides (a shower after cycling in hot humid weather is much needed and appreciated and we love trying all the local food!) it’s not all glittery and shiny for me. As mentioned above I miss being in nature sometimes and I also miss the easy choice of just setting up a tent. In some areas there is no guest house or it might be too expensive for us or we might not feel comfortable. But we need to sleep somewhere every night and tenting would make as a bit more independent instead of having to agree to a price or being uncomfortable. And I miss cooking which comes a bit surprisingly. But I think it’s again the independence of it. Even if there is a lot of food places around, sometimes it’s hard to find the thing we want / need. Most stalls only open at about 10am, so finding breakfast can be a challenge. (Of course there are minimarts but they mostly sell snack foods.) And sometimes when we decide we want to eat something we pass one food stall thinking there will be a lot more soon and there are not. And so on. Tiny complaints in the big picture but my point is, it takes some time getting used to.
- I am White. I’m saying that matter of factly in a political sense. And being White changes our reality here in a very obvious kind of way. We get more attention from people whether that’s waves and Hellos from kids or more or less persistent sales pitches from shop keepers or guest house owners. Whether I enjoy the Hellos and waves or find the sales pitches exhausting it doesn’t change the fact that there are still persistent racist structures existing in our world and we live in different realities. And that changes interactions. That makes me sad and I hate it but it is true nonetheless.
- New languages. It was amazing starting our tour in a country where I could speak the language fluently. That made for easy conversations and I absolutely enjoyed getting to know people on the road and having meaningful deep conversations. No such luck here. My Indonesian is not that good and neither is my Balinese. So I’m bumping along with a few words and trying to learn more and speaking with hands and feet in between. That somehow works mostly, is fun sometimes but often I long for more. As cyclists we’re bound to leave the tourist trail and meet people who don’t speak english and our future conversations will be different.
I could add so many more points but I trust you get the gist. It’s all about acclimatizing and adjusting at the moment and that’s exactly what we’re doing. As of yesterday we applied a new strategy that works really well: Being caught in a touristy area and having a hard time with all the things above we decided just to be on holiday.
You know, just relax, take it easy and don’t worry too much about getting it right at once. And somehow that simple change of perspective really did the trick: I’m not going to worry about being over budget because of not finding a place for our tent. Instead I’m enjoying our bungalow by the sea and going snorkelling today because soon we might not have this kind of tourist infrastructure. And yes, we’re going out for a drink tonight because I heard that’s what people on holidays do. And how fun it is to try and communicate in a new language! See, all about perspective!
Well, of course not all is going to change and adjusting is still going to be a process. But I want to make it an enjoyable one and one that I can cope with.
That said we also purchased fuel for our stove yesterday and had the most amazing banana pancakes and coffee overlooking the ocean today. Homemade. And later we’re going to write couchsurfing requests to get to know people on a different level. It’s all going to be good.