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.
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
• 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!Getting 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.
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.
Six weeks stateside were followed by a six week return to Indonesia!
Thanks for coming along for the ride!