December 7, 2013
As I sit slightly hungover five hours early for my flight I have some time to think about the last month. My time in Indonesia has come to and end and if I had one phrase to summarize my last month it would be “a challenging adventure”. It’s been a good challenge and lead up to an amazing last week with a group of some of the friendliest people I’ve met the past six months. A month ago, Jakarta, faced me with difficulties as $3,740 was charged to my cards leaving me in Indonesia with no debit card and only the money in my pocket. I suspected my Couchsurfing host but he manipulated me into believing it wasn’t him until a friend saw my post and messages me stating he also had money stolen via fraud in Jakarta. He asked who I stayed with and sent me a photo of the guy and as it turns out was the same guy. Small world. Unfortunately we can’t do anything and the police are so corrupt that our hands are tied. I’m not too worried as the universe will take care of him. So yea, the beginning two weeks were difficult and I had try really hard to stay positive. Whenever my mind would drift to the missing money, I would force myself to replace the thought with another memory from the trip. After a week I was in Malang with my @Instagram friends going to remote locations and doing my biggest hobby, photography. My time in Indonesia was on the up. We went to their families homes, ate dinner and just coexisted which was wonderful. After Malang I went to Ubud, Bali. A very Hindu culture filled with colorful alters and flags in front of each home. The architecture was incredible. We saw a ethnic dance one night full of chants and elaborate, colorful clothing. I’ll post a video soon. I met someone from Uruguay who I always joke was an angel sent down to put me in a good mood. I had just received the photo from my friend confirming that Herman was the one who stole from me. I was extremely upset. I felt used, manipulated and violated by someone I trusted. I had a night bus from 5pm-7am so I hadn’t slept really. I arrived to my hostel and just climb into bed planning on sleeping the day away. Marcos from Uruguay came into the room, full of energy, introducing himself and inviting me to go to Monkey Forest with him and some hostel mates. I initially declined, I was tired and mainly in a shitty mood. Well that isn’t an answer a Marcos would take as he urged me to get up and there was time to sleep later. Before I left Catherine told me to not pass up opportunities when people want to interact. Therefore, I obliged and got up and went to Monkey Forest. It ended up being a fun day in Ubud visiting the monkeys, eating food and seeing the cultural dance. I am so thankful Marcos came into the room helped make my time in Ubud a memorable one. I met Clayre from the UK and we hung out one day doing nothing really but sometimes those are the best days. After Ubud I swung down to Kuta, Bali. Kuta is crazy. It’s chaotic, full of 19 year old drunk Australians and busy. I loved it. Many people dislike it but it has character, that’s for sure. I had to spend a week here for I was waiting for my new ATM card. My friend Sebastian, from Argentina, was also in Kuta. He was the other person who got money stolen from him by Herman. It was really nice to be around someone who also went through it and it really helped me bury the whole thing. We went to a bar called Sky Garden which gives you an all you can eat buffet and bottomless drinks for an hour for under $5. A security guard kicked us out of our seats after a few hours bc a couple paid premium for a hooka and our spot. I said it was bullshit and then was met across the back of the head with an open hand.. The guy was three times my size so I just walked away with my tail between my legs. We moved on elsewhere and continued the night. Sebastian had to leave a few days later and it was another challenge bc we became close fast and then he was gone. Always happens. Always sucks. Sometimes worse than others. Next, I met got a roomate from Holland/Nederlands. Maarten and I continued to frequent Sky Garden BC the food and drink deal was too good to pass. Free drinks for an hour.. I mean.. Why not? Then my card arrived! I was so excited and felt completely relieved that it finally arrived. So onward I went to Nusa Lembangan. This is an island that Bouch told me about which I stumbled upon w wrong preconceptions. It was a good mistake BC this island was authentic. I rented a motorbike and drove around the island and across a bridge to the neighboring island. I was just myself which was nice because I hadn’t had time to be alone in a while. I went to different beaches and immersed myself in conversation with the locals every chance I had. There was a Hindu ceremony that day and everyone was colorfully dressed in elaborate clothing. They had rice on their third eye and neck. The kids were in ceremonial clothes too. Women walked down the street in long lines w fruit baskets balanced on their heads. Offerings to the God. It was AWESOME! The island wasn’t overran by tourism and was very authentic. The people were more interested in talking with you than selling you something. I met two French Canadians on the boat and spent the three days with them. On my last day was Thanksgiving. Another challenge. Being far away from home during the holidays is horrible. It really is. The day was long as I waited for night to FaceTime with my parents due to the time difference. We had a lengthy conversation and it put me back on track. It was so nice to speak with them since it’s been a while.. And I got to see a Duke too. The next day I went to take out money and the only ATM on the island wouldn’t accept my debit card. So after all that I then was stranded again with no money. After some time I found a shop that would run my debit card as though I purchased something and would give me cash instead (with a 15% commission). I didn’t have my passport or photo ID on me and they said “no worries” and ran the card anyways. Scary. After Nusa Lembongan it was time for Gili islands, three small islands just northwest of Lombok. I arrived at Gili Backpackers on Thursday, November 28th thinking I would check out by Tuesday and head to Lombok. Tuesday came, I extended one night, Wednesday came, same thing. This pattern continued all the way up until today, Saturday, December 7th. Sometimes when a place is right, you just have to stay put. This was one of these places. The hostel I stayed at made everything. I stayed at Gili Backpackers which was ran by a Swedish couple. It just opened and they’re still putting it together. They made sure everyone knew eachother and to include everyone in what they did. For instance, the hostel staff always had an open invitation for dinner to anyone who wanted to join. This is helpful when you arrive by yourself on the first day and then right away you are at dinner w a group of people in your same boat. The staff also played drinking games from 8-11 which always is a fun way to meet new people. I made the most amazing friends there. I couldn’t leave them. We were having too much fun. It was mainly a mix of English, Dutch, German and Australian. Near the end I met two awesome Americans from St. Louis and.. Wait for it… The Jersey Shore. She was super Jersey and extremely awesome. The island is very small, you can walk around it in two hours. During the day we swam, snorkeled and the watched sunset before dinner and going out. I spent a couple days with Stefanie, from Holland, and became good friends with her. She’s awesome. Yesterday, on my last night after the drinking games, I was retiring to bed as the group was going out to the beach party. Everyone was giving me a long hug telling me how thankful they are we met and what a good guy I was and to keep in touch, etc. It felt good to have so many friends in one place from all over. Usually it’s just 3-6 people you meet but here there was around 15-20 in our group. I was not going out to the party because I had an 8am boat to the Bali to catch an 8pm flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Everyone was saying it’s my last night and to come out for “just one drink”. I said no and gave them all hugs and said my goodbye. As they walked out the doorway I thought, “what the hell am I doing!?” An yelled for them to wait up. We all cheered as we were happy to have one more night together. Then they bought me beers.. And Joss Shots (which get you wired). So there I was on the beach at half past two and I knew I had to go home. I said my goodbyes and got back in time for a quick 4 hour sleep before I started my journey to the airport. The biggest difference about Indonesia, particularly Java and Gili, are the Muslim mosques throughout. Five times a day, one being around 4:30am, the city erupts with the call to prayer. The mosques have loud speakers and a man sings and speaks over the loud speaker for the entire town to hear. The mosques are extremely close in Java, sometimes across the street from one another, and all have different speeches and prayers being announced at the same time. Never seen or heard anything like it in my life. Our hostel in Gili was right next to one so in the wee morning hours, we too woke up. Bali and Nusa Lembongan are mainly Hindu. I love Hindus. They are extremely colorful and the alter decorations in front of each house are very beautiful. I haven’t gotten around to posting Bali photos yet but make sure to take a look if you can. The architecture is incredible there. The best architecture I’ve seen in Asia. The incense throughout gives new scents as you explore the town. It’s quite peaceful. It’s amazing how each island feels like a completely different country. Different religions and customs. Java and Gili are completely two different worlds with Bali and Nusa Lembongan somewhere in between. Indonesia ended up being a wonderful place with great memories. It turned out to be perfect. I wouldn’t chance a thing, honestly. Everything turned out alright and it made quite a bumpy journey. What started at as a rough ride turned out to yield an amazing ending. It’s like my boys say, “The roller coasters got to roll to the bottom to climb to the top again”.