Here's a sneak peek into my actual (yet slightly censored for the web) email that I sent to my best friends detailing my first impressions after landing in Indonesia!
Sunday April 23
Flew from Sydney on Virgin Australia and I scored a window seat! The middle seat was empty, so the luxuriously large Aussie lady on the aisle and I had some extra wiggle room. We landed in Denpasar and I was immediately confused. Initially I got in the wrong immigration line but was politely redirected and ended up getting the right visa from a lovely yet timid Muslim woman. Yay!
Conor (my boyfriend) came to pick me up from the airport to ensure I wouldn't get taken. He had arrived from the US earlier that day, whereas I was flying in via Sydney after a trip to New Zealand with my dad. The arrival terminal at Ngurah Rai airport is open-air. After a full day of flying I was so hot and sweaty and I don't think I've ever felt more disgusting than that moment. It was evening when I landed. We got to the Airbnb we had arranged for the first week and with Bali's lack of street lights I had absolutely no idea where we were. Nothing like jumping head first into a new adventure!
Daylight hit and I could finally see the place we had for the week. It was so cute and actually looked just like the pictures on the internet! It's very open & inviting with a lush garden view from the open-air kitchen & living room. The couple who lives there long-term are Jan & Jasmin, both German. They're also both over 6 feet tall glamazons, tan as hell, and skinny. Conor & I look like little white squashes next to them. Whatever. They're super nice and have a cute little kitten named Solár (I affectionately call her Solár Panel).
All the dogs around here seem to be mangy, street dogs. Definitely the opposite of my dog Pepper (here's link to my mother’s Instagram for reference). Bali dogs are not really cared for and don't have permanent homes. I haven't gotten to pet one yet because I don't want a disease, but I’m thinking about starting an Instagram called Good Boys of Bali where i photograph all the dogs & give them funny names.
(Author’s note: I have pet some of the cleaner looking dogs, but haven’t started the Good Boys instagram quite yet.)
Our first day we woke up at the butt crack of dawn, went to a visa office, rented a motorbike, and got local SIM cards, so we're basically Balinese now. I spent the afternoon reading in a hammock while Conor surfed & then we got some delicious Indonesian food at a warung (family-owned restaurants that are usually run out of the front of their home). When we eat at warungs each meal is ~$3 USD so budgeting is going in that regard.
We ventured out to look at some potential places to live long-term. I had an emotional breakdown at apartment #2 and sobbed outside the complex while we waited for some Balinese woman and her toddler son who wore NO PANTS (just a tee shirt, tighty whities, and sandals) to come and show us her homestay. All the negativity was taking over my mind - how I can't do this and can't be expected to live in a place where I need a motorbike if I can't even ride one, blah blah blah. We toured the apartment, then went to lunch at our favorite warung where I got an encouraging text from my dad reminding me that I'm capable of doing anything. And he didn’t even know I was just crying! He must have that Griswold sense. I felt slightly better after eating some food (a common theme in my life), and we went back to lay in our Air Conditioned room (a common theme for our trip) and I cried a little bit more.
Conor made me feel more positive and we ventured out to Dojo- a super trendy co-working space right on Echo Beach. I signed up for a monthly membership because this place has the best internet on the island and I need to keep up with RuPaul's Drag Race. (Author’s note - I promise I’ve also done some actual work, as evidenced by this website.)
I miss my family and friends and the comforts of being home a lot, but I'm confident that this trip is the best choice for me right now. I'm hoping to make some friends here. There's lots of Aussies, but they're all super cool and most of them have nose rings. I don't think I'd look too good with one. Maybe not a hoop, just a stud. I don't know. We’ll see.
Peace & love,