~~Navigating in Bali~~

Dearest Friends,

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I landed in Carmel, California after spending 60+ days roaming around Bali, Indonesia.

The re-entry process has been more difficult than I can even possibly begin to outline in the process. Alas, I will tell you that I am surviving well and have been spending my mornings by the ocean in Carmel (long walks and ample amounts of deep breathing). I have managed to find the most delightful little coffee houses and have managed to meet some of Carmel’s finest during my short time stateside.

Yesterday, I was sitting on a park bench in Carmel trying to stay dry from the rain. I ended up having a 1.5 hour discussion with a man who was in his sixties. This man has truly seen and experienced a great deal of life. He served in Vietnam (twice) and was married to a woman who battled with MS/Cancer and passed away last February. After all of this, I asked him one question – What is your secret to life (your life wisdom) – He said: “Take it one day at a time” and “Never look back – Just keep moving forward with no regrets”. I appreciated this man sharing his life and his journey with me.

As I was walking away – I had a funny thought – It went something like this.. Oh My God – I AM FORREST GUMP! Now, I share with you that my family gave me the nickname Forrest Gump many years ago when I started running marathons.

I have so much to share. Alas, the processing of the entire trip is still unfolding. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. I had hoped to extend my trip in Bali through the month of January – Alas, and at the eleventh hour of the plan – my visa had issues and I could not get a response from the airlines in terms of the cost to remain in Bali. So, I followed my own intuition (which I learned to trust wholeheartedly during my time in Bali) and hopped on the plane with an eleventh hour call to family in California to see if I could land there for an unknown period of time. And, let me be VERY clear, landing in Carmel, CA for a period of RECOVERY from being off the grid – was/has been truly delightful!

Beautiful Bali –

A few lessons for anyone who considers traveling to Bali.

It is standard operating procedure for every local Balinese person to ask/know where you are staying. I realized this very early into my travels around Bali. I was walking down a street in Ubud during the first few days of my trip. A Balinese man (whom I had never seen) approached me and asked where you are going? Before I could answer this question, he promptly launched the next question – where you are staying?

At first, this was very unsettling to me. I was a bit worried about telling a complete stranger the whereabouts of where I was going/staying. After a few days, I realized that this is in fact standard operating procedure for Bali. So, I opened up and began to share with complete strangers – I am going for coffee or I am staying at this home stay. A friend from the U.S. visited. I mentioned this little practice so she would not be frightened if it occurred. It took a few days – alas, we were walking down a main road in UlaWatu one day and a woman on a moped came to a stop and asked the simple question – Where are you going? I replied, to cafe mocha, and she sped off. My friend looked at me and said – Who was that? I said – I have no idea. Honestly, It felt good to know that someone (sometimes a few locals) always knew where I was going or where I was staying (when most of my family/friends had NO idea where I was at any given moment of my 60+ days in Bali).

Now, a bit of enlightenment on moped situation in Bali (the number of motorcycles traveling Bali’s roads is estimated at 1.5 million). Upon arrival, I thought the most amazing thing I would see was a family of 5 – 7 riding on one small moped. As I continued to travel around Bali, I realized that was not going to be the case. I saw moped with the driver carrying very large bundles of wood. Then, one day I encountered a man who was carrying a rather large stack of 2×4 wood which was lying horizontal (well, you can imagine the damage or limbo that could have ensued). Honestly, during my entire time in Bali – I saw only ONE accident on a moped, and it was a non-local who took a corner much to fast and ended up in the ditch. This is an amazing fact if you truly consider there are 1.5 million mopeds riddled in between cars and large sand hauler/cement trucks. And, there is really no law enforcement on many of the roads – Yet- there are few accidents. Everyone sort of watches out for everyone and the conditions are rather peaceful on the roads of Bali. I did not see/experience any road rage or the flashing of the “peace” sign between drivers while in Bali.

It took me 30 days to get comfortable with the idea of renting a moped. Once rented, there was no turning back and I was set with the freedom to come/go as I pleased. I rented a hot pink honda and did relatively well navigating the roads of Indonesia (with my MAC book secured in my backpack). I remained in a costal town for the last 30 days of my stay. It is a bit less crowded/populated and this was indeed one of the things that gave me comfort in renting the moped. I did find my courage one morning to drive across Bali to Sanur (where I caught a boat to Nusa Lombongan – a Beautiful Island of Bali). Other than the occasional bug in the eye/mouth – I loved and enjoyed my moped experience (and the fact that petrol was 3.00 to fill the tank which lasted for several days – good for the budget!).

More to come..

Thank you for following this grand adventure!

Love, Love, Love, Brandi J.

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