Since I left home for my Great Escape, I’ve been doing monthly roundups of my adventures filled with anecdotes, private little moments, and thoughts that are found nowhere else on this blog. As this site is not just a resource for other travelers but also my own personal travel diary, I like to take some time to reflect on not just what I did, but how I felt. You can read my previous roundups here: Month 1, Month 2, Months 3 and 4, Month 5, Month 6, Month 7, Months 8 and 9, Month 10, Month 11, Month 12, Month 13, Months 14 and 15, Month 16, Months 17 and 18, Month 19, Month 20, and Months 21 and 22.

Travel to SingaporeSwinging through Singapore

The two months that capped off my second year of The Great Escape were pretty damn blissful and truly a highlight to my travels overall. I have the exact same number of destinations in this two month recap as I did in my previous one month recap, and a lot less complaints — which I think speaks to my strong preference for slow travel.

This period was mainly marked by my Divemaster Training Course, which I traveled to Indonesia specifically to complete. It was the last stop on this most recent five month Southeast Asia journey, and a perfect note to end on.

Where I’ve Been

• One day in Singapore / Singapore

• Three days on Nusa Lembongan / Indonesia

• Thirty-five days on Gili Trawangan / Indonesia

• Three days in Ubud, Bali / Indonesia

• Four days in Nusa Dua, Bali / Indonesia

• Three days in Bangkok / Thailand

• Four days in New York City / USA

• Seven days in Albany / USA

Travel to Nusa Lembongan No Stress on Nusa Lembongan


• Feeling like Alice in Wonderland as I stood mesmerized by Gardens by the Bay at night. I never expected to fall in love with Singapore the way I did. But what an amazing city, and how lucky I was to have a 24 hour layover there!

• Sleepily watching the sun rise over the water from my beachfront bungalow on Nusa Lembongan. This sleep island was my first introduction to Indonesia, and it was an idyllic one. I wouldn’t have made a pit stop here if not for my old friend Neil hanging around, and I’m so grateful to him for that.

• Finding the perfect little room to rent for a month on Gili Trawagan. Okay, sure — there was no sink in the bathroom and the bed was just a mattress on the floor and the shower was actually a brackish water dribble that would take a day to fill a bucket. But after months of running around it felt blissful to put my bags down for a bit, and the yellow walls and view from the balcony made me smile every day.

• Watching hot pink sunsets over Bali. The bike I bought and frequently rode all the way around the island in the evenings brought me so much happiness. I would put in my headphones and just bike my heart out as I circumnavigated the tiny island I was calling home, being sure to savor what a unique experience it was every time.

• Completing my snorkel test like a champ! Becoming a Divemaster was a very defining experience, and this silly initiation marked the end of an intense training period surrounded by friends that felt like family.

• Being reminded of the warmth of the human spirit. On the morning of the Boston tragedy I was crying on my balcony while reading the news. The family I was renting a room from asked me what was wrong and I told them of the bombing in my home country. They made me breakfast, shared their stories of the Bali bombings, and assured me this would be in their prayers. It was a poignant reminder that both suffering and kindness are universal human conditions.

• All the butterflies that come with a holiday romance gone right. Dating an instructor at my dive school could have gone all kinds of wrong, but I really truly lucked out.

• Realizing I was still out partying when the 5:00am mosque call began. After a fairly sedate Month 22, I really got back into the swing of local nightlife on Gili Trawangan! I’ll never forget the endless string of Vodka Joss fueled nights that made this island such a good time.

• Acro yoga and the Alaya. Ubud really does deserves the hype! I’m glad I made time to visit this city before my time in Indonesia was up. I’d love to come back here someday soon. Three days was not enough.

• Ordering every dessert on the menu to our room at The Grand Mirage at midnight. Trying out the all-inclusive thing was the perfect way to wind down a five month Southeast Asia trip.

• Getting the chance to say goodbye to Bangkok. I’m so grateful I scheduled in a final three days in my favorite Thai city before flying home. Not only did it break up my flights, it allowed me to check out another amazing design hostel, gorge on my favorite foods, shop up a storm and visit the floating markets for the first time.

• Last but not least, sailing into my seat in time to see my sister walk across the stage and get her diploma. That — and all the subsequent celebrations — was well worth capping off my Southeast Asia adventures for.

• Celebrating TWO YEARS of travel!

Gili Trawangan Travel BlogGetting Cozy on Gili Trawangan


• Missing the mola molas on Nusa Lembongan! I did see manta rays, so I guess I can’t complain too much. But what can I say. I’m greedy.

“Why you so sexy, blonde lady?” Coming from Thailand, I was shocked by the leering comments and looks from some local men on the island. It really rattled me and for one of the first times ever I found myself uncomfortable to walk down a dark street at night in Southeast Asia. I now realize that this is a very safe island and the longer I stayed the less attention I got, but it really put me off at first.

• My traumatic night dive during my Divemaster. It was difficult to write about, though the outpouring of support made me feel really positive about sharing my experience. Love you guys.

• The disaster of an internet situation on Gili Trawangan. What a mess! I had many frustrating days spent trying to upload a file that was due or respond to an urgent email. It was not ideal in any way, and my income really suffered for it.

• Rushing my Divemaster Training. If I could do one thing differently, it would be to take more time. I didn’t really have much of a choice but I wish I had had longer considering I was attempting to work full-time alongside doing a full-time course.

• Missing dogs. Gili Trawangan has no dogs. This made me sad. The end.

• Again, wishing for more time. There is so much to see in Indonesia, I was heartbroken not to have time to explore more.

Travel to BaliBlissing out in Bali


April was my worst month for income in over a year, though things did pick up in May. Still, by staying in one place for so long and focusing on one singular activity, my Divemaster, I did relatively little damage to my bank account. I also had a grant for that, which didn’t hurt.

Due to luck, circumstances, and hard-won partnerships with brands I love, the only accommodation I paid for during this entire period was my rent on Gili Trawangan.


While I kicked off my time in Gili Trawagan with an impressive fitness routine that included morning runs, evening bike rides and frequent yoga classes, that quickly fell to the wayside when I got distracted by other pursuits (read: a guy.) Luckily I maintained a fairly active lifestyle anyway, which offset my relatively intense partying during this period.

Home for GraduationCelebrating Stateside

What’s Next

Six weeks stateside were followed by a six week return to Indonesia!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

  • memographer
    August 9 2013

    Really enjoyed your coverage of months 23 and 24, Alex 🙂 Indonesia is a long-term tenant of my To-Do-Go list 🙂

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      Thanks! I’m glad these roundup posts get enjoyed 🙂 And I hope you make it to Indonesia soon!

  • Amanda @ Adventure Year
    August 9 2013

    I love these round up posts! It’s so cool to read how you fell so in love with Singapore. I’ll definitely have to check out more of those posts. Enjoy your time stateside!

    Also: I miss dogs (because I don’t have one) in a city that has tons of dogs. I can’t imagine how I will miss them when they’re not on every street!

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      Yup, I definitely went wild going after the street dogs when I got to Bali after so long without them in Gili Trawangan 🙂 I can’t imagine why anyone would want to ban pups from a whole island!

  • Shaun
    August 9 2013

    Two years! Congrats! And props for taking charge of your life.

    It’s hard to keep fitness as a priority but I always try to make time for it on the road as well.

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      I wish I could say I’ve been more consistent with it, but at least this little part of my roundups helps keep me accountable 🙂

  • Laryssa
    August 9 2013

    All my life, I never had the desire to dive, but reading your blog has definitely made me reconsider. 😉

    Congratulations on 2 years of adventure and becoming a divemaster!!

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      I’m so happy to hear that Laryssa! I would love to have all my readers run out and do their Open Waters!

  • Heather
    August 9 2013

    Good summary! I’d like to try to keep better track of the highlights and lowlights on my trips too. Right now I use photobooks for photos (duh!), notes, musings, etc. I’m behind though, I need to catch up my last two months like you did!

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      I’m always behind on blogging! Ha. But yeah I love doing these roundups even just for my own personal memories. These are the posts I tend to look back on the most.

  • becky hutner
    August 9 2013

    as a total list nerd, i am finding these round-ups to be my favorite posts. this one in particular makes me insanely jealous & i wish i had more than 7 wks for my upcoming SE Asia trip so i could fit indonesia in. BOO!! love that you have budget & fitness sections — good way to take stock of these less glamorous but very important parts of life.

    one thing alex — no headphones while you cycle! esp in southeast asia, geez. trust me your parents would agree x

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      Thanks Becky! Glad to hear you enjoy them. As for the headphones, there are a LOT of places I would never consider doing that! But it feels safe to do so on Gili Trawangan — there are no motorized vehicles here, so I just have to look our for horses and other bikes 🙂

      • becky hutner
        August 12 2013

        good to hear! i have actually just weened myself off of music during bike rides after one too many lectures from my husband. so i have no right to be on my high horse!

        just in the middle of the bbc’s “wild pacific,” have you seen it? between your indonesian adventures & this mind-blowing nature doc, i am seriously reconsidering this fall’s travel plans!

  • Two things:

    1) I hope to see you during our Sac overlap!

    2) Where do you think you’ll be come January? Mom wants me to go to Australia with her, I want to go to Indo to see my bestie, but I want to dive in whichever place I visit, and it would be awesome to dive with my newly-minted DM friend!

    • Alex
      August 9 2013

      Actually I will be in Central America come January! Hopefully settled somewhere like Bocas del Toro or the Corn Islands to catch my breathe for a bit and do some catch up work and diving!

  • tyrhone
    August 10 2013

    Great round up. Your slow periods sound like my busy periods 🙂 you should come to Mexico to chill in January, although then you may never leave…

    • Alex
      August 10 2013

      I’m definitely hoping January will be a chill, cool down month for me that includes paying rent up front for a month 🙂 Maybe Mexico will be in the cards…

  • Dad
    August 10 2013

    Always enjoy these roundups. When I finally get done working for a living I think I am going to follow in your footsteps but with perhaps a bigger budget….no dribbling showers thank you.

    • Alex
      August 10 2013

      I think the amazing thing about Asia is there is great value at any budget. For $8 a night (what I was paying for the dribbling shower room) you can’t really complain considering the great location! But for $100 a night, you can have five star luxury. Perfect for you 😉

  • TammyOnTheMove
    August 12 2013

    Two years of traveling-happy travelversary! 🙂

    • Alex
      August 14 2013

      Thanks Tammy! It’s been a wild ride!

  • Karina Larrea
    August 13 2013

    Hi! I’ve been subscribed to your travel blog since I was 18 and it has, since then, been a great source of inspiration and escapism for me. I just turned 20 this month and I still always feel immensely inspired after reading one of your blogs. They not only serve as entertaining reads, but they could inspire anyone to get out there and see the world for what it is: one big adventure! Thank you for blogging all of yours, and I look forward to reading on. 🙂
    Karina Larrea
    P.S: Happy Travel Anniversary! Keep on reppin’ us girls out there in the world of travel! Woo!

    • Alex
      August 14 2013

      Karina, thank you so much for this sweet comment, you made my morning! It really means so much to me to know you’ve been reading for so long. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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