The summer Alaskan adventure was in the rear-view… actually, the rear-view was in the rear-view… I met Lisa at Born To Run in May and somehow talked her into heading to Alaska with me in my truck camper, which we had just put in storage in favor of one way flights to a tropical paradise. We were definitely ready for winter in Bali!
We settled into our monthly AirBNB apartment rental in Seminyak and got to know our surroundings. We joined a gym a short jog away, the beach was less than a mile down the street, the wifi was fast, and there was a good mix of western and local restaurants everywhere. Yes, this would work! We also rented a scooter, and although it’d been a few years since I last motorbiked in Asia, it didn’t take long to regain my confidence in the chaotic traffic.
One thing we had to get used to, in addition to all the extra 0’s in the currency, was falling asleep to the loud squawking sounds of the Tokay geckos, especially the one living in our bathroom. For several days I was convinced that there was a giant parrot squawking right outside our door, but I was surprised to learn that all that noise comes from a tiny gecko!
Our lives settled into a productive rhythm, coffee in the morning, working from the apartment throughout the day, a quick visit to the gym, and by the time the sun started to set we’d make our way down to the ocean for some Bintang and beach vibes.
We celebrated Christmas and New Years at the beach, and the NYE party was packed with fireworks and people dancing to live music in the sand. As 2019 came to an end and 2020 began, it would be easy to think that everything was perfect, but unfortunately, all was not well in paradise.
At the end our first monthly apartment rental the decision was made to move to separate places. I went to Canggu, joined a co-working space across the road from my AirBNB, and got a gym membership a short ride away. My daily adventure was crossing the Canggu Shortcut, which is notorious for congested traffic and epic accidents, with cars, scooters, and people falling off the elevated path into the rice fields.
Canggu is a mix of old culture and new vibes, with rice fields next to trendy cafe’s and bars, and though I’m not sure how positive the impact is on local culture, it definitely made for a beautiful place to call home. I settled into a nice routine again, working from the co-working space, hitting the gym, eating healthy, and running barefoot on the beach at sunset each day. But even so, going from having a constant companion for the past 7 months to living solo left me feeling pretty alone.
Lisa had moved to Ubud, a holistic yoga enclave nestled in the rolling hills of the island, and I eventually made my way there to see her. I rented my own place for a week, explored with her and on my own, hiking through rice fields, enjoying the monkey forest, listening to live music, watching the Super Bowl at a western pub, and trying to fix things between us.
One day I hopped on my scooter and set out on a solo adventure. With the wind in my hair I rode up, up, and up into the hills until I reached Danau Batur Lake at the base of looming volcanic mountains. I rode along the perimeter of the lake, past temples and shrines, and eventually reached the end of the road at a fishing village that seemed far from the tourist trappings of Bali. A day in the mountains, quietly watching local life unfolding around me, was a good reminder of why I love this lifestyle, whether shared or experienced alone.
I rounded out my second month on Bali back in Canggu, packed my bag, and prepared for my next destination. Ironically, or not so ironic since our visas were both ending on the same day, Lisa and I were flying out of the airport at the same time on separate flights. Our last conversation in the terminal was pretty rough and sent me off in a really dark place.
A few hours later I landed in Singapore, a city-state that I’ve long wanted to visit. I spent only 4 days there (it’s beautiful, but awfully expensive) running around town, enjoying the wonderfully manicured green spaces, taking in the city vibes, and generally trying to keep my mind off real life.
By far, the highlight of Singapore was running along the river and spotting a large bottle of PBR! No, my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, I walked into the dive bar and promptly ordered a $10 bottle of “Cheap Ass American Beer” according to their menu. It went down oooohhhh soooo smoooooth!
From Singapore I caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, another place I’ve wanted to visit and hoped to use as a base to get a few things done. I needed to buy professional attire for a trade show the following month in India, had some electronics to purchase, and wanted to visit a dentist for a regular checkup. I did all of that easily, worked each day from my $10 a night apartment, and made my way downtown a few times to experience KL after dark. I’m not much of a city dweller though, and when my checklist was complete I cut my stay short and moved on.
Honestly, my days in Singapore and KL were pretty dark and depressing. I take full responsibility for ruining the relationship, but I was still having a hard time coming to grips with the end and feeling okay again. Thankfully, my next destination delivered some much needed good vibes.
When I checked into my new home I quite literally felt the heaviness of the past several weeks lifting off me. I unpacked my bag, walked from my bungalow to the beach, bought a cold beer, and sat in the sand, letting the sea breeze begin to heal me. Little did I know how thankful I would be to land on Koh Lanta when I did. As the entire world spiraled into panic and lockdown, I was exactly where I needed to be to rebalance, rebuild, and restore myself. Over the next few months, through a global pandemic, Koh Lanta would become more than just another stop in my world travels, it would grow into a place I could truly call home.