“Wow, what the hell?! Aren’t you supposed to be on the other side of the world?”
Yes I am. I was…

“So. Like, what, how long are you here for?”
I have a return ticket for September.

“Oh you do have a return ticket this time? Yeah, ‘cause you also have a boyfriend back there right?”
That’s right! Or actually, a fiancé ^.^

“Wow! Congratulations! But that must be hard…”
It is! I miss him like crazy, being on different sides of the world is very frustrating.
Then again, who am I to complain? You have to live in this shithole year-round.
And there are plenty of couples who have to spend months apart like this years on end.
I’m just happy we only have to do it for these few months, am grateful for skype, and hold on to the thought of the paradise we’ll be able to build ourselves by the end of this year.

“Ah-oh, next you’re going to tell me you’re pregnant, haha.”
Not yet, but don’t be surprised if I carry one on my arms next time you see me.

“Seriously, stop it with the bombs now!”
Okay, so I came back to earn some European bucks. We have a dream, but to make it come true we need bigger funding.
And for me to find work in Indonesia isn’t easy. They’re not keen on having bule taking their jobs. And even if I’d find something I wouldn’t make enough to save on.

“So is he coming here aswell?”
To get him visa isn’t easy either. Let alone a working permit. He’d have to be hired first; his employer needs to file for the working permit. But to get a working permit you can’t be visiting on the tourist visa.
But how are you going to find an employer if you’re not here, right? Yet another bit of stupid bureaucracy-bullshit to reassure me I really don’t want to live on this end of the planet anymore.

“Then this is the last time I’ll see you?”
I was already packing up before I left last October. But whatever I had left here is coming with me in September.
Of course I’ll be back here on holiday some day. To show my husband and kids where I grew up, introduce them to my family and friends.
But I won’t be wandering aimlessly anymore. I found my place, I found my guy, my home, we have a plan, we’ll have it all.
But hey, you should definitely come visit us some time!

“What happened to the traveling dream though?”
I found something better, something maybe I was already looking for… Plus, plans are there to be made broken, remember? Besides, we can still travel together.

“And how long have you been gone now? Not that long, right?”
No, it was only 4 months. And it feels like I was here just a week ago.
And at the same time so much has happened. I was gone twice as long as last time.
But didn’t make half the mileage, haha. I met him on my first stop, managed to pull myself away for the planned trips to Singapore and then Cambodia, but couldn’t stay away for even one month. Padangbai; can’t stay away.

“So how are you going to manage half a year?”
I have no idea. Just work, think ahead, pull through…

“Just what you tell us not to do..?”
Yeah… I know it’s conflicting, but I’ll find a way to justify that for myself ; )

“So he’s that great? Tell me more about him.”
Well… He’s super handsome, he has black hair, brown eyes…

“Haha. But what is he like, what does he do?”
He’s the sweetest, always taking care of me. And even though he’s a little younger he’s very serious about us. He makes me feel so safe and happy.
He’s also a great cook, loves to make and feed me the best of foods. And he’s really clever and funny, he always knows how to make me laugh.
He likes to surf and go fishing and making music and traveling. And he loves kids. And giving me massages… He’s my dream come true.

“That does sound great. I’m happy for you.”
“But now you’re here. So what will you do?”

Just work. I’m not picky. I need to make money so I can go back asap.
Other than that I’ve got some time to clear up those last boxes I left with my parents and say a final goodbyes.
And dream up our to-be-paradise, of course. But I’ll tell you more about that as it’s unfolding, in due time.
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Day LXXI – MAI 28, 2012

Fck man, I have to move, I appearently can’t go to bed here early; only once did I almost make it home before midnight. And I can’t sleep in on these swaying floor in this lounge with a family now occupying it every morning from 8am on, taking away that little privacy I had here. No wonder I got sick.

I still have a choice to make: go to Lombok and climb Rinjani with Chris and Joe; probably a little cold and hard work but awesome. Though am I up for it, I’m still barking like a bear and have a minor fever at 37.3.
Or, stay to spend my last days in this lovely little reggae town.
Just one week to go… It’s funny how suddenly I’m counting days again. And at the end of my trip I don’t feel like the whole bother of packing up and moving anymore. And I’m not the only one: a lot of people I met here are on their last stop and refuse to leave for as long as they can, ‘stuck in Padangbai.’
Or maybe I’m just talking myself into staying because I’m secretly curious to find out where this little summerfling is going.

As it’s past noon and still haven’t heard from my American brothers, I guess that’s it. No Lombok.
So I go over to the beach to meet Gede for our little trip. Bring on the fling.
Mario makes a big fuss when I go over there, “I don’t like him.” After some asking Mario admids two reasons: 1) he’s not from here, he’s from a neibouring town 2) he borrowed a language book from Mario and hasn’t given it back yet.
So I tell Gede to give it back, and tell Mario to take it easy and not to worry. I do feel a little bad though. And I have this theory; people like Mario usually have a sixth sense about things…

We have to go by his house to pick up some helmets, and I’m looking forward to see more inside of the local life.
The off-road ride there is amazing. We go from broken asfalt to more broken asfalt, and just as he’s apoligising for the road being so bad the asfalt disappears completely and it’s just a dirtroad, or actually a 2-feet wide path, through a forest of banana and palm trees and loose cattle running around and ricepaddies on both sides, here and there making an opening so you can see the ocean. Sometimes there’s a sort of fence and a hut and people working the land.
He stops at a concrete building that functions as a roadside shop to get some petrol and walks in. I figured I should just wait outside but he waves for me to follow, “This is my house.”
We go through a door in the back of the shop that leads an alley where his mum and some kids greet us with awe and yells of enthousiasm (?) He tells me she is saying I’m so beautiful and I blush. We walk on to a courtyard with more households and a big shrine and more women asking me if I speak Bahasa Indonesia and I’m stuck with “Sedikit. Permisi, anda bisa bitsara Bahasa Ingris?”
Now we’re supposed to wait for a cousin that will bring over the helmets, but Gede makes a phonecall to find out there’s no police, so we’re safe to go. He tells me it’s just a 20 minute drive, and I guess he knows best, so just go with it.

In the end we’re driving for 45 minutes, on big roads too, and it looks a little dangerous, with all the traffic and sharp curves. Then again, many people on scooters aren’t wearing helmets.
A few occasions even make him go “shit” and I do get little fright then, but over all I guess he’s driving pretty safely… except for maybe the speeding when taking over. But hey, live a little.
Not done in Europe of course, and I can see a few of your faces screwing up, but no worries, everything’s fine.

The views all along are amazing, the hills and the valleys, the ricepadies end on end, the ocean showing her face every time she gets the chance.
Sometimes he slows down to point out something, like when we pass a parkinglot crowded with monkeys, just sitting there, but I don’t get most of what he’s trying to explain.

At some point just after Candidasa he turns into a smaller alley and up a hill. We pass another one of those gazebos with a group of men sitting in them. He stops and one of the men comes over to collect a fee for I don’t know what with a little ticketbook and Gede pays. Not a word; everyone is quiet and it feels rather awkward.
We continue on a sand road that leads to a parking the ticket must have been for.

This beach truly is very beautiful. A straight mountainside on one end and some green hills on the other, and the most amazing island up ahead. It looks very Petit Prince, a little dot that sticks up out of the ocean, half of it covered in grass and one single tree. I want to live there!
We go for a swim in the almost boringly calm water and share a romantic kiss.
When we sit on the beach there’s a group of local boys playing football. We’re kissing again but Gede tells me he’s a little shy and scared they’re making fun of us and might kick the ball into our heads.
It’s interesting how a thin borderline between villages would make such a difference. Mario wasn’t the first to be saying he doesn’t like someone because he’s not from the same town.
When he needs a light, he first goes to the white girl lying a little farther, but she doesn’t have one, so now he’s forced to go to those boys anyway. They saw what he was looking for and are already calling him over. And it’s all fine and fun and games. They do make a joke later when we’re kissing, asking of they can join…

So he asks me “Where you want to go tomorrow? Tirta Gangga? And the day after we have big ceremony and I want to take you with me, to introduce you to my family so they can meet my girlfriend, ya?” That’s too big an honour and too awesome and experience to turn down, and I’ll be leaving soon anyway, but suddenly he’s not so shy at all anymore.

On the way back we’re overtaken by two guys on a bike carrying at least a dozen rabbits. Seriously. Even Gede had to laugh at that.
We stop at a roadside warung to have some gado-gado and it’s the best I ever had. He asks me if I want to pay, so I’m like “Sure…” and put down the 14.000rph requested after he ordered some cigarettes, a small bottle of arak and an energydrink. I think he paid something too, but I explained before how we have quite a language barrier and it’s not all clear to me.

He asks me if I want to go to black sand beach for sunset and a glass of arak. “Just for a little while then.”
It’s the most bizar beach I ever saw, all black sand, with a few grey and white pebles here and there and the water is a beautiful dark blue. I have to come back here with my cam!
It’s insane how quick it gets dark here. The moon is just a small slice tonight but lights the whole place so brightly still.
So we sit down and have that drink. And of course he stars kssing me again. And of course he tries more. I tell him ‘no, and ask him to take me home and reluctantly he does.

I get to Sunshine around 9pm. The live music is already playing. It turns out another late night, and at the end of the table I meet Clare.
She is one of those people. You know when you meet someone new but it feels like talking to a very old and dear friend you’ve lost out of sight and you can talk about anything, you can talk all night long and you’re on the same line on everything but still you can give eachother such great advice; because you understand completely.
So we’re drinking and talking the night away. I ment to leave early, but Koming keeps saying “No, come on, have one more drink.”
Finally at 2am I say goodbye to everyone inside and walk out where he’s helping a guy that got himself too drunk on the back of a scooter. And again he says “No, come on, have one more drink with me.” “Oh allright.” I turn around, walk back inside and do my favorite yell these days: “Satu lagi!” – one more!
Koming and Clare have been friends for ages and they have really deep stuff to talk about. I feel a bit like an intruder now so again I try to leave again. But they won’t let me and are all like “Sorry, we didn’t mean to put you off and we don’t want you to go.” So we share a round of arak to make it all better, and make the deal that we have to stay until dawn because I never saw the sun rise over Padangbai before, not properly.
An hour later when he’s lost for 15 minutes and we go searching for him we find him asleep in the porch next door.
At 4am Clare let’s me borrow Tude to drive me home and cleans up Koming.

Day LXX – MAI 27, 2012

That fever was practically gone last night, but went up again this morning and my throat is worse again. Of course it didn’t help I still went out and drank and smoked like any other night last night.
Dear Koming got me a traditional cough syrup with herbs that worked like magic.
But I’m still feeling pretty damp, alone here in the dorm, in bed still at 11am, that shrunk back to the 4 beds it counted when I got here.

I promised Nyoman I’d buy some sarongs from her, so make my way to Bias Tugal anyway.
When I get to the top I find myself caught in a little rainstorm and hide out in an unfinished building for half an hour. It was supposed to become a hotel, but constructions were abandoned. Some say it’s because they didn’t have the right licenses, other’s say it’s because the grounds belong to spirits who wouldn’t budge. It’s even said people have died during construction, because they were messing with higher powers.

It’s the second sudden shower since I got here.
But then the sun’s comes out again. So it’s all good.
Chris has left for the day to get some camping gear in Kuta for a Rinjani-trekking, so it just Joe and me and some of the Pari family playing cards and sitting around.
At some point Josh comes over. Johs mainly hangs over at that other bar where more local boys hang. He was sent as a messenger, by ‘the musicians’ to request that I make an appearance. We have a laugh at that and I tell him “I would if they wouldn’t be too shy to come and ask me themselves.”
I probably still turned a little red there. I’m getting better at the whole social and flirting and all, but I’m still a tiny little shy girl deep down.
Sure enough it’s Gede who walks over a short while later. He invites me to go to another beach tomorrow, about 45 min away from here. I tell him I’m not sure if I’m going to be there, that I’ll can’t give him an answer before tonight, before I spoke with Chris about maybe going to Lombok.
Joe and I ended up staying with the Paris till way late. Dusk had already fallen when we make our way back into town. We still take that forest path, another thing I would most likely not have done back home, knowing about snakes and things – though back home we don’t have snakes, nor the steep hills with loose soil.
On the way we talk about Gede and how he’s being so friendly to me, wanting to take me places. I say “What’s the harm?” and Joe responds in an annoyed manner “Well he’s probably after some more. But hey, if that tickles your fancy…”

Not too long after I came in Gede shows up at Sunshine, and sits next to me for the rest of the night. He’s being too shy to actually flirt, but totally pulls the yawn-arm-strech classic and keeps wiggling his cap around and tries very hard to understand what I’m saying.
I think he doesn’t follow the majority though, of what is said between Josh, Steffi [Germany] the chicks at the next table and me. Then again, he got the whole conversation that went down in fast flowing Bahasa Bali between Koming, Wayan, Moman, Tude and himself that I didn’t.

Josh makes his grand exit, leaving town tonight, just in time to widness me finally finishing my project; on a much smaller table, but I did get it covered!
At some point dating locals comes up, and Josh says something like “These guys must get so lucky, all the pretty female travellers here, looking for a little exotic some-some.”
Then he says this other really funny thing: “You know who you look like? Kate Hudson!” What, again? And he keeps joking about it for the rest of the night. “Yeah, totally, in Almost Famous. You don’t know it? Whatch it!” *

Joe was having heaps of fun over with the boys, I’m sure, but when I checked in with him when going to the toilet he couldn’t resist making the remark “Finally, you left your seat.”
I don’t know if there is anything between us, or if I’m just imagining it. There are no real signs. Just this feeling I get every now and then. And if there would have been signs I would have been open to them. I could have liked him for more. But he never send out anything. Did he? Was this?
He does seem hostile towards Gede, but that might just as well be about the weird fee he asked us for. Anyway, he’s drunk now and I don’t know why he seems agitated tonight. It’s not like I’m always joining him on the dancefloor… I don’t know what to make of him tonight, so go back to my seat.

When I want to leave by 2am Gede gets up instantly to offer me a ride home. Koming makes a little attempt at sitting me down with him; he’d been so busy we hardly spoke all night. But I honestly need my sleep.
So Gede drives me home and asks me to sit down with him for a moment
“I want to ask you something.” Ok. “Do you like me? I really like you. Don’t go to Lombok, ok? Stay with me, live with me. I need you.” That last one makes me laugh, but it’s adorable at the same time. So I let him kiss me goodnight.

* When I tell my best friend about this she looks at me intensely for a minute or so, and says “… Yeah, I see it. Yeah!”

Day LXIX – MAI 26, 2012

When I wake up again at 9am it’s dropped to 37.8 so I decide I’m well enough not to miss our trip to the waterfall over.
When I come downstairs one of the Topi staff behind the counter informes me someone from Sunshine bar was looking for me. Outside it’s Mario calling out for me “Meet my friend, Gede” and then comes some rambling I don’t understand, but the boy explains to me “Wayan couldn’t make it because he has a job to do so I’m taking you instead.” His English isn’t nearly as good, but fine enough to be adorable.
We meet Chris, Joe and Nyoman at Sunshine, get the boys a scooter with a little hassle over a driving license and get on our way. Nyoman and I are on the back with Gede.
The ride there is great, all the tropical forest, green fields with banana trees shading them, soaked rice paddies hidden here and there; beautiful.

Then we get to a little town where we stop at the temple atop of it. There’s a ceremony going on and all the men are dressed up traditionally, sitting and smoking at the entrance of the temple under a magestic ancient tree. We park the bikes and walk an alley up higher passing the enclosures of many households with little peeks in to the local life much more pure even than Padangbai.
We leave the houses behind us and keep climbing up a little path between the greenest landscape. Here and there we climber over some rocks, until we reach a basin bathing in sunlight where a little fall showers down. Gede tells us the water comes from a higher fall, but we’re not allowed up that holy spring, and it’s more impressive when it’s not ‘this dry’. We still enjoy the cool water and stunning surroundings.

Gede is becoming very friendly to me, telling me about this beach he’d like to show me and inviting me to his home “to meet my cousin and to make guitar ya.” When I cautiously tell him “That’d be cool… ” he says he’ll pick me up at Topi Inn tomorrow. So I guess we have a date.

On the way back we stop at a roadside warung to have some lunch: rice and some meaty goodies: enak!
When we get back to Padangbai there’s a weird little bit when he tells us, the tourists, not Nyoman, we have to pay a 50.000rph fee each for visiting that town and he’ll bring it over there later. Not that we wouldn’t pay him this still small amount if he’d ask us to pay him directly; it’s just weird how he’s putting it…
Then again, you never know the culture, you never really know anyone you meet on the road, local or traveller, and you never know who to trust or not.

Once more I find myself staring at the stunning coming and falling of the waves at Bias Tugal. It looks calm and just big out there today.
After a few hours on the beach I somehow end up on the back of Gede’s bike again for a ride into town. I’m now pretty sure the trip to the beach tomorrow is an actual date. His English isn’t good enough, nor is my Bahasa, for us to understand each other very well, and makes it hard to tell whether he is joking or being friendly or what the intonation is ment like. But he does seem sincere and I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow.

Just coincidentally I meet a woman on the beach who married a Balinese and moved here, and at Sunshine I meet a girl with her local boyfriend this same night?
I’ve been sort of wondering about that. I mean, you see plenty of men taking home a bride from these regions back to the west. But it seems like in Bali more women get stuck on the men here than the other way around. Danielle, another friend of Fabs, who is now back on holyday in Holland, married a Balinese. Komings has a girlfriend from Switzerland.

Anything-goes Asia: Where 12-year-olds drive motorcycles without helmets on and it’s normal.

I could take a million photos

Day LIV – Mai 11
The dreamy blue ocean, softly rolling back and forth, making the most beautiful patterns in that reversed-water-shadow, and of the white silk rippled sand, of the leftovers of last nights tide, of the little fisher boats and taxies waiting just offshore, gently bobbing their heads, of this terribly cute Thai kid in her beautiful dress busy building her fortress, of the swaying palm trees giving a little line of shelter from the unforgiving sun that makes even the sky look pale.
But it’s no use. You’ve seen those pictures in those brochures. And other than of course this is the best island ever, it’s just like any other bounty island.
tao beach
I treat myself on a wildly expensive breakfast at the western chain bakery and have my 3rd fruit shake today. A very special one, called berry breeze, dark red with ingredients I haven’t seen in a long time: strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry; mighty tasty. And I just had this craving for grilled cheese sandwich. For anything with cheese you have to go to those western dinners, and then still that’s no guarantee. Not very cheesy in this case; I was probably off just as good with the 30b thing they have at 7/11. Ah well, the shake is still heavenly.

I had to move to Koh Tao Backpacker because my roommate and I only got the bungalow for 2 nights and he’s found himself a house – he’ll be staying a lot longer with his course and all.

I make some new friends in my new dorm room though, and we go to the promised barbecue/pool party at Davie Jones together. Promised by the hostel. Turns out they lied.
So with my new friends -3 girlfriends who met a while ago in Aus and the brother of one of them- we look for a barbecue further down the road. We find a really nice place overlooking the ocean and I accidentally get a free beer.

At some point they say this really funny thing: “How come all Dutch girls are so pretty?” Even the girls are saying it, “Yes, they all have this beautiful tan and blond hair. What, don’t you let ugly people out?” “You know, we have this bracelet for them…”*

We visit another happy hour at a shabby looking joint where I play the worlds worst game of pool with James. After one drink the girls retire, but I drag James along to Lotus bar again for more free buckets.
And what do you know, we run into Amir and his buddies; 3 more made it over tonight.
Soon enough we’re cuddled up again, and poor James who’d put on a sulky face, calls it a night.
This beach table makes a quieter seat and while we watch the fire dancers play and tease the lady in front of us that finds them terribly scary, we talk. He’s from Birmingham, his mom’s from Ukraine and his dad from North Africa. He’s a graphic designer, he’s very much into hiphop, he used to have a ‘fro but shaved it before coming here and now he can’t stop playing with his DC cap. He can’t stop smiling when he’s drunk and he can’t stop drinking once he starts. And it’s such a cute smile too! There’s nothing about this guy I don’t like. Especially how he keeps putting his cap on my head – call me weird but I just find that so romantic.
His buddy moved to another room so he invites me back to his place. When we walk by the Poolbar he stops “Sambucatime!” When we walk by another pumping club he stops again “One more drink?” Good thing because I need to visit the little ladies room. And finally I get my period. Great timing, thanks guys.
We get to his place, have a smoke on his balcony and soon move in to his cool room. I put on some José James and he’s like “But this is sex-music?” With the AC softly humming we snuggle up close all night.

*This one needs a little explaining by now. It was at the time the euthanasia-bracelet was a big deal

Lazy days, heavy nights

lotus bar
Day LIII – Mai 10

I pull off sleeping in until 10am. My roommate has already left for his diving course.
I go out to the beach and try to get deeper in the water through a path between the coral, but even that’s impossible. I remember the urchin and decide to just stick to the hot kiddie pool. There’s no one else out here but a few runners(?!).
Luckily I mastered the skill of smearing my own back. So I do a little reading, a little writing, a little napping…

The sun, on my slowly browning skin; it’s hard to see in this brightness, but when the sun lights my hairs golden and the white silklike sand sticks to my skin it’s easy to see.
A breeze to make the heat endurable, I lay with my head on my arms and peak through over my bright pink and purple shaded sarong to the blanket of sand and it’s gentle bobs where the tide last touched it, and the millions of diamonds sparkling, hidden in there. Little piles of fish poop and other tiny hills break the landscape. Even brighter sparkles the ocean, just a little further ahead, as she rolls in and out, softly whispering. Farther more are some boats, waiting for their next trip out there. The sky, blue as ever, fills the background with some white and grey mountains. And then I notice a slight burning on my legs and back; turn. And that’s all I do, all day.

(Oh and damn you Shannon, and your broken condom. I’m a week late now and I told you I am not having your baby!)

After dinner I convince my roommate to come out for a drink even though he says he should study. “Ok, just that one free bucket then.”
With 5 minutes left we rush over to Lotus Bar, a veranda build over the beach. There we meet 2 more UKs, Amir and his friend whose name I don’t remember.
We have a lot of laughs and many more drinks than my roommate intended, as the ocean comes closer and closer until there’s no beach left. The DJ is doing a very nice job and everyone is dancing on the veranda that is now hanging over the water. We decide it’s more fun to dance in the tide, with the plankton sparkling blue for discolights. More people follow, and soon enough the first go in for an actual swim. Naked; why not?
By midnight my roommate leaves us for his bed, and Amir goes back to his hotel to pick up more money. His friend is pretty pissed by now so we sit down for a bit.

I have to find the toilet so tell him to stay put. He promises.
Of course, when I come back he is nowhere to be found. I do however find Amir with a fresh bucket of which he shoves a few straws in my face, “Help me drink this!” If you insist.
“I’m a little drunk and usually I’m much too shy to say these things, but I think you’re really beautiful.” I find that worth a kiss. And he seems to agree, passionately.

When the bar closes we start walking up, but somehow I get it into my head we should go back for a dive. The beach is practically empty now so we rid ourselves of most our clothes and walk into the violent tide and make out while the ocean tosses us around under a starry sky. Just that was romance enough for one night, so we get dressed, kiss each other goodnight and part to both go to our own beds.