Early in the planning and packing stages, back when I even made the decision I was going in the first place, I knew my life would change. And I’m not even talking just on the grander scheme of life — my perspective, my self-awareness, etc. — but I’m talking details.
No more waking up to a guaranteed warm shower every morning, let alone Western world, running toilet.
No more changing into a white button up tucked into harem trouser pants; with strappy stiletto sandals and my Phillip Lim by Target handbag, aka my staples for the past year working at my job.
No more jumping in the car, getting in line for the rat race, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic LA every morning (I don’t miss you, 405).
No more arriving to work, pouring a cup of coffee in an air conditioned space, and sitting in front of the computer from 9-5.
No more getting off of work, and getting back in that line, and sitting in the same traffic, with people whose routines reflected mine for the most part.
No more getting home and feeling like the day was done after dinner and a walk with my dog.
No more preparing for the next day to be like the next and the next and the next.
I packed a few pairs of leggings, a few plain tees, a pair of jeans and my toiletries, and stuffed them in my solitary backpack around my sleeping bag. Some sports bras and underwear. No fancy clothes. No makeup. And most certainly, no heels. My feet love me for that one.
We arrived in Despansar after 25 hours of travel.
Motorbikes and small vans and cars formed organized chaos in the streets, women riding with both legs to one side, nonchalantly behind their husbands, with baby in lap. It was loud, and crowded, and there was a stench in the streets that reminded me of when my family visited Bangkok when I was 16. I rolled down the window to allow the hot, polluted air to fan my face — it was better than the stagnant air of airplanes and within the van.
We drove by incredible monuments, palms and other green tropical foliage dispersed between bright colored buildings and traditional. Temples with Asian-style structures, with roofs pointed at the top and curled up at the corners with gold embellishments.
Then as we left the city, the buildings got a bit smaller, the roads more narrow, and the tropical foliage more prevalent. We passed small fields, and vendors, and children biking, and stray dogs fighting.
We met a guy from Berlin during the layover in Taipei who let us ride along with his planned ride to the same area. Our driver was such a sweet man and thankfully helped us navigate because we were definitely lost for a bit and running low on energy and brain cells.
These narrow roads were leading us away from the city and away from the more common hostels, closer to where we would be staying. Jordan was in contact with the gentleman running the place, who hired us to create a marketing promo video for them. Nothing like bringing a little known place — especially one with such good intentions for its guests and its community — to life via film.
A guy with facial hair and dreds pulled back in a pony greeted us, barefoot, as we gathered our bags to enter. I walked in to a serene little sanctuary: Some plants already alive and thriving and others in development, an area of dirt — holes half dug, and the beginnings of new life. Through the dirt were stepping stones to the bedrooms — bunk beds lined with mosquito nets — and common areas. More info on this incredible little gem in a later post.
We greeted another bearded, barefoot dude from Vermont and began chatting with him. Jordan took off his shoes and socks right away, already comfortable with his surroundings. I opted to leave my Nikes on. I’m taking my time.
This place, which happened to have electricity, Western toilets and a shower, though cold, surpassed my expectations. Jordan said he actually preferred the squat and saw dust way. Not me. Not that I’ve never done it and I have an issue, but I’ll take the simple pleasure of the flush for the time being.
Now I lay in bed, at midnight, unable to sleep. The mosquito nets left gaps, and my body is covered in mosquito bites (Dad always said I had sweet blood). I finally wised up and put some pants and a long sleeve tee on, though I’m now sweating on my sleeping bag built for 21 degree temps. But those desperate bastards weren’t done, and I feel two large bumps on my forehead. Then I feel the fresh lump on my nose. They couldn’t even spare me the nose??
As Sheryl Crow once articulated so wisely, “A Change Will Do You Good.” With an open mind and an open heart, I am looking forward to seeing what this place and our time here has in store.