It’s my six month anniversary in Australia and I celebrate by leaving Australia. Bali isn’t meant to be explored by people like me, how the hell have I found myself on the most beautiful island I’ve ever experienced?
It starts with a trek to Sydney Kingsford Smith airport, boarding a delayed flight and panicking because I’ve not applied for the visa my British backpacker neighbours are discussing right by me (I needn’t have worried, I didn’t need one). My worries are then heightened by the minor annoyance of my lack of window seat and then again by a slightly high maintenance row buddy. A perfectly blonde, perfectly manicured lady, who switches her sandals for slippers and sunglasses for an eye mask, only after removing her make up and applying a face mask. She makes sure her tiny butt takes up as much of her seat, and mine, as it can and she enters my personal space waaaaay too many times with her lolling sleepy head drooping onto my shoulder throughout our six hour flight. It’s a long six hours. I regret not buying snacks.
Thankfully the flight was the extent of the drama and annoyance on the trip, from the minute I leave the baggage cartel at Ngurah Rai airport my sense are all over the place trying to capture every element of this new world. My first time flying solo, my first time leaving an airport and entering a foriegn country solo. There’s a thrum of terror in my veins but it’s overruled by that electric excitement doing risky shit gives me. There are also a few butterflies in the pit of my stomach as I roll my suitcase toward a strange familiar face I’ve not set eyes on in five years.
My high school best friend, who abandoned me for her homeland of Indonesia when we were sixteen, stands looking the same as ever at 22, in her good old (still effortlessly cool) jeans and T-shirt look. My butterflies dissipate quickly as we fall into friendly chatter, comfortable and hilarious as anything, it does’t falter for the entirety of our trip.
Her friend, in true Balinese gentlemanly fashion, drives us to our hostel (he becomes a familiar face throughout the trip, a personal chauffeur almost). Their friendly disposition extends to putting up with my vegan food requests and buying me a Bintang at a tropical beach bar. The bar extends onto the warm night sand, me plonk our arses on colourful beanbags under rainbow parasols decorated in bright fairy lights and soak up the aesthetics, the acoustic music and of course the booze. The breeze is warm, the waves a soft distant whisper and the company relaxed. I’ve been in Bali the whole of three hours but my spirit is alive with the promise of adventure.