Well, I made it to Bali and it’s been almost two months. Crazy, right? Time flies when you’re making bold moves and changing your life, while at the same time wondering WTF you’re doing.
I think many of those close to me had their doubts and thought there was a small chance I wouldn’t make it on to my flight, but I did. Spending the last few weeks in Cape Town was simultaneously the best and worst thing I could’ve done prior to leaving South Africa (for the second time), and left me seriously second-guessing my decision to come here.
I had to remind myself many times why I’d made the choice to do this in the first place and dig very deep to get back to that. There were a lot of tears, especially in public and whenever anyone hugged me, which was hard because everyone I chatted to very excitedly asked me lots of questions about my plans and because I was essentially on a farewell (for now) tour, there were lots of hugs. So many hugs!
Allowing myself to be breadcrumbed into remaining in Cape Town would’ve ended really badly, so a big thank you to those who took the time to talk me down from the ledge I was on while there. You all know who you are.
It’s definitely gotten easier over the past few weeks, being able to identify the wood for the trees, the opportunity, as well as the bigger picture for what I want for my life going forward. There was still a bit of a fog hanging over my head right up until about 2 weeks ago, but that has begun to lift as I get a better handle on settling into life here.
Meeting new people and increasing my social circle have also allowed me to make that mental shift and focus on the future, as opposed to dwelling on the maybes and what-ifs. I’ve never found it difficult to make new friends, but have found as I’ve gotten older that this does become somewhat harder. That said, I know that in a few months I’ll probably look back on this transitionary phase and laugh at how distressed I was about not having more friends or a “life” here.
The Bali that I’ve experienced so far has been awesome. At the moment I’m based in Canggu and have mostly stuck to this area because I haven’t got a local licence, and at 2 years away from 40 I promised my mom that I wouldn’t drive a scooter (although she doesn’t have much to worry about because I have no idea how to drive one).
I’ve mentioned this to a few people I’ve chatted to here and it’s been met with a lot of “ah, but Bali is a GREAT place to learn!” No, it is not. I’ve seen some very hairy near-accidents, a lot of people walking around with injuries and also read the local news about foreigners being involved in terrible scooter accidents.
I don’t plan on learning at this point and the only driving I’ll be doing is that of a car. Considering the traffic here that’s a massive undertaking all on its own.
I’ve eaten at some awesome restaurants, with a lot more on the list to get through. When I have the inclination to do so I might even put a proper guide together, but in the meantime, you can view the one I compiled on Instagram here.
When it comes to my daily life I’m a total creature of habits so I tend to establish various routines which I stick to 90% of the time and help keep me grounded. I’m also still living in a hotel, so not having my own kitchen means I have to find good coffee and food elsewhere (although I’m quite partial to a morning/afternoon coffee and watermelon juice next to the pool).
At the moment my days generally begin with a walk down to the beach that’s 5 minutes down the road from the hotel. For the first few weeks I was sitting at a beach cafe called Times and drinking coffee while watching the surfing, but I have since graduated from that and now walk along the beach with a takeaway coffee instead. I then either grab a late breakfast or lunch at Shady Shack (where I’ve been known to sometimes frequent twice a day).
There is definitely more of a holiday vibe here, but that will change somewhat when we move into a villa which will allow the ability to cook meals at home thanks to having access to a kitchen again. Life is a lot slower here and it’s definitely about finding a pace which works for you. I’m going to have a lot to keep myself busy with over the next few months, but I’ll get into more of that in future posts.
The loneliness at times has also been intense and I’ve needed to manage that quite carefully through the ups and downs. There are only a handful of people who I’ve discussed this in-depth with because feeling the kind of loneliness I’ve experienced recently is new to me.
When I moved to Shanghai in 2015 I had Jonathan waiting for me on the other side, and he had already spent 5 months there, had a fair amount of the day-to-day shit down and had already made friends. This certainly gave me access to a “starter pack” of sorts, I slotted in and went from there, developing my own routine and making some of my own friends through work and the network of South Africans who lived there too.
This time around has been from scratch and despite having business partner friends here who have been very supportive and helped me a lot, there’s a big difference between doing this alone vs along with a partner who is experiencing everything with you in real-time.
That said, I’m very grateful for close friends and family who have continued to be incredible on a daily and weekly basis, and who are only a message, video call or voice note away. As with most things in life, if you give it time then things tend to progress and before you know it, you’re looking back having gotten through it all (fairly) unscathed.