Bali, and more specifically the town of Ubud has won my heart in many ways. If you smile at someone, you get a smile back. If you look at someone in the eye, they hold the gaze with a sort of kindness and softness. The food….oh the food is so wonderful. And bali coffee, how I miss Bali coffee. And fresh juice everywhere. Every kind of juice. Pappaya, mango, beet, ginger, orange, lemon, avocado, jackfruit…every fruit! Oh and the mangos, how easy it is to mess my face with a sweet juicy mango. All of that is just part of what makes me love Bali so much, the other part is of course the people I met during my time there. A realization that has become more and more prominent this past year is how much the people around us are really what make experiences, shared experiences, that much better. To those people, and you know who you are, thank you.
Leaving Bali was bittersweet, but it was time to move on…and what a journey that was. To back up a bit it was Friday December 21st and I woke-up around 7am for my daily Mysore practice, grabbed some last minute things around town, had lunch, and in the evening went to Ecstatic Dance for a few hours. I stayed up that night and left for Mt. Batur, a semi-active but mostly dormant volcano on Bali to watch the sunrise from the peak. We left Bali at 2am after no sleep and headed to the volcano, hired a guide and he lead us the rest of the way to the top…and a beautiful sunrise it was.
We made it back to Ubud around 11am, packed, had a final lunch together and gave our heartfelt goodbyes as we all parted ways. I grabbed the public shuttle to the airport but no more than 15min into the trip we were moving at a walks pace behind a precession of thousands of people; There was a celebration throughout Bali for Lord Sanghyang Iswara and getting anywhere on a large bus was not going to be feasable. The driver of the bus called one of his friends who met us part of the way on a Motorbike and had me hop on back. We whipped through Bali traffic past the people, dodging cars, taxis, other motorbikes all while holding a 30lbs pack with all the core strength I had available. He got me to the airport right on time, more importantly alive, and I slipped him 50,000 rupiah note (about $5) and booked it to the ticket counter. The woman behind the counter greeted with me a large smile, pulled up my flight, and asked me if I received the notification. The notification that my flight was delayed 2-hours…I smiled, said thank you, and made my way to the gate for my 2-hour delay that turned into a 4-hour delay.
At this point I’m still on no sleep. 41-hours of no sleep. Eventually we make our way to the plane and I drift in and out of a light sleep for the 3-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I hired a taxi for the 40-min ride into the city and give him the address of my hostel but he can’t find it. We drive around Chinatown for 20-min looking for my hostel…but nothing. I finally ask him to drop me off at what looked like a semi-awake part of Kuala Lumpur and walked my way down the street looking for any hostel. One after one the doors were locked. 5am. Almost 46-hours of no sleep and I retire myself to the wall of a hostel and await for someone to show up at the front desk. I’m in a state that’s beyond tired, sweaty, and more than irritable. Someone eventually came around, checked me in, and I slept.
It’s incredible how irritable and pessimistic my mind is without sleep. A city I was cursing just hours before, I saw with new eyes after 6-hours of deep sleep. Note to self: don’t do that again. The rest of the journey from Malaysia to Thailand was gravy. I booked a spot on the 9pm sleeper train, and slept the entire 10-hour ride to the border of Thailand. I made my way to Krabi by 4-hour bus and the next day took a longboat to Tonsai beach. It feels good to arrive in Tonsai. A wonderful gem of a beach hidden from the tourist beat of Railay. I stay here until the 5th of January.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been on Tonsai for 5-days and yet I’m still trying to cultivate a feeling of homeostasis. Coming from Bali to here was a hell of a journey. And while I was here I caught my first 24-hour stomach bug, and lost my ATM card. Alas I have an additional ATM card and my health is well again, but it’s been difficult to get back to a rhythm that I feel comfortable in. My experience with travel though is that this happens, and like the tide comes and goes. This too shall pass.