Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I didn't leave Indonesia, instead I went somewhere I was going to miss out; Ubud. It is a lovely little city in Bali. It is very touristy, but in a good way... in an artistic, organic and soothing way. My guesthouse is down a little alley way which is lined with kids and waiters from the restaurant next door. Whenever I walk by, day or night, my name is called and paired with big, wide smiles.

My hand still hurts but I feel good. Santai. I can't say there's a lot to do here in Ubud, except breathing it all in, deeply. This little town is soothing my soul. I should probably leave soon, but I don't really want to. So, I'll stay a little while.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I'm writing this post with hesitation. Before I start, I'd like to say this hasn't put me off traveling. This hasn't changed how I feel about traveling alone. There are crappy people everywhere in the world; this could have happened in New Zealand, or America, or anywhere else. It doesn't change how I feel about Indonesia. I am considering leaving earlier, but because I could be surrounded by the familiar, wide smiles of my Cambodian kids and I think that would be a wonderful place to process what has happened. As I take it, if I had fallen off my motorbike I'd be in the same kind of position, but with a less awesome story to tell, so; que cera cera.

My friend had suggested that there were some very beautiful beaches around Kuta, but a bit of a distance away. So I hired a scooter and asked for directions from the rental place. The sweet lady said it was a dangerous road and to be careful. She was right, some parts were so badly damaged that it was a constant battle around pot holes. I made it, though, and felt in good spirits. It was beautiful driving so freely through 'real' Indonesia - where the locals lived and where monkeys and lizards ran across the road. The beach was quite lovely, and there were only a handful other tourists. I hadn't brought sunscreen and was getting a bit burned, so decided to head back around 3pm. I knew it would take me a while to get by on those roads.

I struggled with the pot holes, but for the most part I was awesome. I stopped occasionally to take photos as I was taken by how beautiful my surroundings were. I noticed two men on the side of the road fixing a scooter. I asked them if they needed any help. They didn't speak any English, so I went off. They caught up to me and we spent the next few mins overtaking each other. I'd done that with a few local people, most are interested in tourists and excited you're using the local transport. I stopped to take a photo and they stopped further up the road to fix their bike. I went over a difficult part of the road and one of the men got off and helped me by pushing the back of my bike, keeping me up right over the pot holes. In hindsight, it was probably more sinister. I said thank you and drove off a little faster. I kept driving and after a while noticed their scooter next to mine. I said hello and suddenly the passenger started pulling my bag, while i was still driving, resulting in me being lifted partially off my scooter.

I let my scooter fall down and got off. I was so confused as to what was going on and backed away a bit. I thought maybe they would steal my bike. Both of the men got off their bike and pulled out very long knives, maybe 40-50cm in length. The passenger slashed my bag off in seconds and I was shocked. I didn't even process what was happening. I punched the passenger and snatched my bag back. He stabbed my palm. My camera fell out near the passenger's foot. I was screaming "tolong, tidak, tolong, tidak" which is "help, no" in Indonesian. They just got on their scooter and drove off.

I kept screaming "tolong, tidak" and noticed my hand was bleeding, a lot. I freaked out and tried to figure out where all the blood was coming from; I searched my head, my back, and then saw the gash on my hand. I kept screaming "tolong" and finally a scooter with three local people stopped on it. They looked at me, my bag and camera on the ground, screaming and had no idea what was going on. They didn't speak any English and I just kept saying "Tolong tolong tolong". One of the men came over and got on the front of my scooter and motioned for me to get on. I remembered I had my very tacky 'I heart Bali' towel and tried to get it out of my bag. Blood was everywhere. The local man got it out and wrapped it around my hand. I got on the back of my scooter, wrapped my arms around him and cried "thank you thank you - terima kasih" over and over while sobbing into the back of him. I bled all over his shirt. The ride back to Kuta was about 45 mins of difficult terrain. There was no way I would have made it myself. I'm so grateful for this kind local.

I think sometimes the way you react to situations is more important than what actually happened. I consider myself lucky. I'm grateful for the continued kindness I have been shown by the Indonesian people. The local who drove me back refused to take money from me, but I insisted. The staff at my guesthouse were absolutely shocked and offered to escort me around whenever I wanted. I understand that for the locals, a camera such as mine, is an opportunity for a better life. The locals make anything from $40NZD (young laborer) - $400 NZD (Police) a month. So, if they could steal my camera and sell it for a few hundred dollars, that's a pretty considerable sum. It's enough to make a difference in their lives.

I'm gonna need a bit of time to heal, but then I will be back to my excited exploring self. I am sure of it :-)

Ps. If you want to see the damage click here;


Sunday, July 17, 2011


I've come down with a really bad case of food poisoning. It's hard not to let it get on top of me. I was supposed to leave the island yesterday as I was becoming tired with it... but I can't catch a boat in this condition.

At least the experience with the doctor was entertaining, in hindsight. He tried to give me an injection, but refused to tell me what it was, or how much it'd cost me. So, I declined. After the consultation he asked me if I was married - "no" then he asked whether I was looking for a boyfriend. Actually, I'm just looking to get better, that's why I'm here...

At least I snapped this sweet picture of the sunrise the day prior. It might just be the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm absolutely smitten with Gili Trawangan. This little island is everything I wanted but not what I expected. A pleasant surprise. The locals are friendly, the other tourists are respectable, the food is incredible, the water is crystal clear and it's always warm. I had committed to walking to the top of the island today. Just as I was going to head out the door it started raining. I am pretty sure it was a monsoon; it was that bad. The dirt roads turned into little rivers and the sky was the most miserably gray. For those who don't know me personally, there are few things I dislike more than rain. It subsided eventually, but the clouds hovered. I decided to walk up for the sunset anyway.

It seems whenever I overcome something that's frustrating, the universe gifts me a little treasure. Because of the clouds, the sunset was nothing special, but on my way down the hill I saw a little girl dancing in her yard. Here was a girl, who, by my country's standards, probably falls far below the poverty line, dancing around. Despite the rain, despite the mud, despite the gray clouds, despite all the hardship in her life, she was dancing. And it was so beautiful.

Smitten, I tell you.

Monday, July 11, 2011


When I first started traveling, I think a part of me hoped if I got really lost I would figure everything out. I'd find the answer to all of my uncertainties and I'd feel an overwhelming sense of knowing. That never really happened.

Today I decided to bike around Gili Trawangan. I was biking through a sandy part when a local decided to playfully jump out in front of me. At that exact moment, in the mid day heat, my chain broke rendering my bike useless. I was on the opposite side of the island with a bike I had to push. Ahmed felt responsible for the death of my bike's chain and took it upon himself to lead me part of the way through the centre of the island, the village. There were numerous dirt road paths that crossed over themselves and I was overwhelmed by the heat. I held back the frustration, instead letting myself feel privileged for the detour.

With no bearing of where I was and no landmarks to go by, I was completely lost. I found, along my way, some farm animals, some friendly locals who asked me if I'd run out of petrol and two little girls who were taken by me. They saw me snapping pictures and made their way over to investigate. Somehow, everything fell together and we ended up having our own little photo shoot in the middle of their village. There's few things I find more beautiful in this world than sharing giggles and smiles with kids who don't speak a common language. It's the most simple thing, but I find myself falling more in love with the world every time it happens.

I left Kuta - a place I didn't care for - and found my own paradise.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Traveling safely, solo style.

I have been surprised by people’s reactions to my traveling Asia alone, some are perplexed I’m even considering solo travel while others are genuinely concerned for my safety. I have nothing but good things to say about my adventures, and because the same questions keep coming up, I thought I’d write a little blog post about it all.

Being a loner:

When I did the Quad (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) I rarely had any time to myself. I landed in Phuket, Thailand, made my way to Patong and that night had made friends with some people in my hostel. I had a solo ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi and there I met some really fantastic guys I ended up traveling the rest of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam with. It wasn’t until we parted ways in Saigon that I was alone again and in a way it was exactly what I needed: a few days to recharge myself and eat ice cream, for lunch, in bed without being judged. There are two reasons I think it’s so easy to make friends in the Quad, firstly, because it’s so cheap to stay in dorms, you instantly make friends with your roommates. Secondly, because it’s such a ‘loop’ you end up seeing people over and over again. Thailand is a really fantastic place to start out solo traveling. If you stay in dorms in any of those countries during high season, you will have to make a concerted effort if you want to be alone.

In India, and now again in Indonesia, there are not really many hostels around, this is probably because hotels/guesthouses are so cheap. The consequence is it’s a bit more difficult to make friends, although I found it easier in India, probably because of how abrasive it is. Here in Bali I’m not such a fan of the majority of tourists; drunken Australians in wife beaters, woo! I’m also busy trying to work through my TEFL course, so am not going out as much as I’d like. It’d be pretty easy to make friends in Kuta if you went to a bar, wife beater essential, and started doing shots. I’ll be changing locations soon, and hopefully there will be some shared accommodation, as this is really the best way to meet travelers.


I’ve been really blessed on my travels, except for the occasional stalker in India, the ‘hey darling’ in Bali and the stares in Cambodia, I’ve had no problems, at all. I don’t really believe in letting fear govern my life and it’s the same when it comes to travel. I have a few rules for myself traveling and they are as follows:

Walk on the opposite side of the road to traffic, particularly at night.
Carry your handbag on the side furthest away from traffic. If you are wearing a backpack take it off in crowds and hold it under your arm, tight. Don’t put your backpack on your front, it looks awful and gives the impression that there’s something SUPER valuable in there which is very intriguing.
Don’t drink before you’ve made decent friends who will watch your back.
Don’t do drugs. Seriously. Here in Asia people get paid by the police to sell you drugs and let them know, you’d have to be an idiot to risk it.
Ensure you have safety money hidden in various places in your luggage – USD is best, but local currency is fine. I would suggest at least a week’s extra.
When in transit use your bag’s rain cover as a secondary protection to keep everything in place and away from the hand’s of others. I use this on my camera’s bag when I’m in a busy area. Remove any camera branding if possible (I cut off my lowpro label).
Familarise yourself with the currency, the costs, and always check your change. Don’t carry too much cash on you.
Before you leave home make sure you buy a medical pack containing pills to help deal with food poisoning. Use bottled water to brush your teeth in remote areas.

And my most important tip for traveling Asia is: to be kind. You will get hassled, more often than you can imagine. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle just to walk down the footpath without being attacked by the pleas; “motorcycle” “transport” “waterfall” “massage” “look at my store” etc. It gets annoying and some days it’s enough to put you in a bad mood, but please take the time to remember that this is their profession and it’s how they earn money to feed their families. As awful as it sounds, in some countries it’s better just to ignore them completely (especially Bali) if you are not interested. My secret weapon in Cambodia for the “transport” chimes was to tell them “walking, exercise!” cheerfully while enthusiastically skipping away. This was matched by a big smile and them repeating, “exercise! walking!” which is much more pleasant than being taunted down the road.

Until recently, I hadn’t seen much animal cruelty. Please consider whether the animals you want cutesee pictures with actually want them too. In Kuta, Bali, within the space of five minutes I saw a girl cuddling with a chained up monkey (photo attached) and a group of guys huddling around a caged monkey. Our tourism is what supports these ventures; the owners wouldn’t do this to the animals if we didn’t make it profitable for them to do so. When you give attention or custom to people who treat animals unfairly you are supporting animal cruelty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I only had four days in Singapore and by my second day my feet were covered (and still are) in blisters. Although in Asia, it feels like any other Western city. Singapore seems to have a love affair with malls, and shopping. Orchard road has over 30 malls lining the street. The MRT is so easy to use - you rarely have to wait more than 3 minutes for a train. Owning a car in Singapore is really expensive, around S$50,000 just to buy the rights to own a car, and then there's the cost of the actual car on top of that. Because of sheer cost most Singaporean's don't own cars, and so the demand has created an amazing web of public transport.

I was surprised that Singapore's main language is English. It was a bit weird being in an Asian city where everything is signposted in English - didn't really feel like I was very far away from New Zealand. I like the heat, usually, but I did find the climate a bit hard to deal with - walking much more than 500m was a chore. The humidity was insane, and while I arrived at the airport with beautiful straight hair, by the time I'd reached the hostel it was a disaster.

One of my friends back home introduced me to a lovely girl, Cristal, who I met up with and two of her friends. We went to a Hawkers centre and ordered enough food to feed a small village. It was awesome trying some of the local food, although I use that term loosely. Singapore is a vibrant mix of lots of cultures; Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Malayan etc which has resulted in a very diverse culture. Apparently it's quite rare to cook in Singapore, and so eating out is insanely cheap. I really loved Little India; we had some incredible food there. The malls are grand, and slightly insane, buildings that are constantly bustling with people.

The Night Safari was really awesome, we drove around in a little tram past all the animals, dimly lit up under the darkness. I was metres away from a sleeping Leopard. There was also a bat enclosure that you were free to walk around. The little baby bats climbed inside the banana and ate their way out. I loved the giant flying squirrels, they looked just like red pandas. It was worth the expensive entry fee (S$30), especially because most of the animals lived in 'open enclosures'. I didn't find Singapore to be as clean as everyone raved about (there is a bit of litter) but compared to other big Asian cities I've been to (Bangkok, Saigon, Hong Kong) it is pretty tidy! Because my suitcase is in storage in Singapore, it means that I have to fly back there anyway - what a shame!!! I think I'll have to spend a few more days exploring. I really want to check out Sentosa!

I love Asia - I'm so happy to be back!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I’ve been feeling quite different this time around. While I am excited about my upcoming travels, I’m more in love with than New Zealand than I’ve ever been. It is hard being so far apart from some of my core friends: those friends that have shaped me throughout the years and brought me to this very place in time. I count my blessings daily for them and wish I could smuggle them along as carry on.

It’s a tricky thing; loving and being very happy surrounded by them always and deciding to leave. I’m not running away and I’m certainly not abandoning all that I love, I’m just exploring elsewhere. This world is big and my eyes are wide.

People have been asking me when I’ll be back and others wishing me good luck for this “trip”. It’s hard to explain, but I’m leaving; I’m not going on holiday. I’m going for the foreseeable future and then a while after then. I don’t want to put a time frame on it, because this world is crazy and it continues to provide me the unexpected. But loosely guessing I can’t imagine I’ll be back in New Zealand for a couple of years. Its scary knowing that I wont see any of my favourite people for years unless they visit me (this is strongly encouraged).

My heart is breaking for the distance I’m putting between myself, my family, friends and this country I’m madly in love with… but I’m grateful for this adventure.

In less than eleven hours I’ll be on the plane to Singapore. Monday I’m flying to Bali (Indonesia) and I’ve not planned any further than that, yet.

This blog is a love letter to everyone I’m missing.