Romance on the Road
As I packed for my most recent five month trip to Southeast Asia, my fourth such journey in as many years, I vowed that my next flight abroad would be to a new region of the world. I felt certain that the next time I put down my passport, it would be somewhere in Latin America.
Then I got to Gili Trawangan.
I haven’t even started blogging about this portion of my trip yet (the problem with perpetual travel is that I’m always behind in covering my adventures!), but those of you who read my Photo of the Week series or follow me on Instagram watched in real-time as I slipped into a blissful routine on this little spit of sand. I could tell you all about the fantastic underwater world I encountered while I did my Divemaster course, the peaceful bike rides I took around the island’s five-mile circumference at sunset, the little yellow room with a balcony that I rented for my stay. But that’s not really what you want to hear about, right?
You want to hear about how I met someone.
I feel obligated to point out that this is a costume.
The entire concept of dating when you live out of a backpack is so fascinating, I truly could write a book on it. Any rule you’ve ever played by, mused over or heard about goes out the window. There’s not much “should I text or will he?” agony when at best one of you has a disposable Nokia cell phone, and you tend not to worry so much about long term compatibility or other practical matters when you’ll both be in different countries by the end of the week.
It’s the same with any relationship on the road, romantic or not. One day you’re strangers, and soon after you spend every waking moment together without a thought to what the repercussions might be. Can you image going on a date with the same guy more or less every single day for six weeks straight, since the day you met him, in New York? Or moving in with a new friend after a few days of knowing each other? And then boom, one of you takes a different trajectory and that little chapter in your life is over with the purchase of a plane ticket.
So all of this is my long winded way of saying that when I started spending every waking moment with one of the dive instructors at the dive shop I was doing my course at, I didn’t really think much of it. I figured we’d have a little holiday romance, we’d part ways with a kiss and a smile, and maybe someday we’d be lucky and our paths might cross again.
But then could I really help it that this guy had an adorable Danish accent, and a ridiculously charming smile, and that he used both when he looked at me and spoke to me using my full name, all four syllables? Al-ex-an-dra. Or that he knew exactly how to comfort me when I felt anxious, and just what to say when I was having a bought of the crazies, and most importantly brought me breakfast in bed when I was hungover? And that he made me laugh every day, and that he looked really good in a wetsuit? And did I mention that Danish accent? I AM NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE.
As time ticked on and my departure became nearer on the calendar than my arrival, I actually started to dread that inevitable goodbye. And it wasn’t just him. I had made amazing friends, I loved the diving, and I enjoyed the return to small-island life. I wasn’t ready for my Gili Trawangan chapter to end.
So then, one day, the manager of my dive shop mentioned she could use a little extra help around the high season. And she pointed out that a little Divemaster experience would look great on my underwater videography resume. And I consulted my calendar and found a six week window. And then I looked at plane ticket prices and I fainted.
I’ve had my hesitations. Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my last real relationship ended brutally, and it took me a long time to feel like myself again. I’ve dated since, but I’ve backed away when things started to get serious. And I’ve grown to so cherish my independence, it’s hard to imagine sharing the reins of my life with someone else again. But as a new, wise friend recently said to me — “YOLO, and not in the way that kids use to justify doing stupid shit.” Rather, as in, You Only Live Once — and so recognize when something rare and good is happening to you.
On July 1st, I fly back to Indonesia for six weeks. I have no idea what the future holds beyond my return flight. But in the meantime, this is Anders. You’ll be seeing a lot of him around here.
Anyone else want to share their romance on the road stories in the comments?
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes and YES ! xxxxxxx
Ha ha, thank you Sam 🙂
Im confused…what happened to MM?
We parted ways back in Thailand when I left for the Philippines! I mentioned it in one of my Railay posts… and I guess as well when I say, “I’ve dated since, but I’ve backed away when things started to get serious.” 🙂
A beautiful story and kinda sad at the same time.
And, yes, Alex, he is handsome 😉
I’m not sure what the sad part is, but I’m not going to fight you on your last point!
It seems like you are too far into this relationship already. Love is beautiful and cruel…
Eeeeeek how exciting!!!!!!!!! I wish you and him (the double A team) nothing but the best. 🙂
Thanks Andi! Ha, I like that, double A team…
You two make such a good looking couple! Totally understand that you’re heading back to Indonesia next month 🙂
Thanks Dani! We actually have about 15 inches of height between us so we get some funny comments when we walk down the street. At least now I know how to say “tall and short” in Indonesian!
That’s really exciting! I’m sure it was the right decision – just like the time you chose to stay in Thailand a bit longer! Nothing’s as important as listening to your heart! 🙂 Good luck!
I almost linked to that exact post! I’ve definitely found that following my heart is the way to go 🙂
It seems you may have a weakness for gorgeous dive instructors!
Ha, I guess when you spend all your time in the dive world…. you tend to date other divers! Hazard of the job 🙂
faint!! so happy for you!
Ha, thank you Meghan!
This post made me smile so much. I’m super happy for you and Anders. Some recent experiences of my own have made me realize that YOLO is a great saying when used appropriately and this is highly appropriate. Have fun in Indonesia. I can not wait to read more about it!
Thank you so much Breanna! Funny enough Anders just read this post and was like… “What is this YOLO!?” So appearantly the saying has not yet reached Indonesia. Ha.
Oh those Scandinavian men. Beautiful!
I know, right? It’s almost unfair.
Really enjoy reading your blogs ..
It inspires me to travel
Still hoping to do Vietnam /Laos w stopover in Dubai in January
Thank you Coco! Good luck with your trip!
congrats. regardless what it becomes, it awesome.
also, im super uber jealous you are going back. Gili M is my personal heaven. I would LOVE to go back, just for one day. to walk around the island to my deserted palapa….maybe one day soon…
Annie I have GOT to make it to the other Gilis this time! No excuses!
“The entire concept of dating when you live out of a backpack is so fascinating, I truly could write a book on it.”
THEN WHY DON’T YOU?
I mean… I said I could write a book, not that anyone would want to read or publish it 🙂
So glad you are living in the moment. I met my husband while travelling in a totally random situation. We had the foresight to seize the day and almost nine years later are happier than ever! Enjoy =)
Wow, what an inspiring story! It’s rare to hear of people turning these kind of relationships into something long term. Kudos to you!
OOOOh!! How wonderful and exciting!!! I love the way he’s looking at you in the second photo — the way you are looking at each other. 🙂 YAY! YOLO, haha!
Thanks Erika 🙂 I like it too!
The travel and meet an exotic stranger story everyone hopes for – never a dull moment – enjoy it!
Yeah, I can’t say I’m disappointed with how things have turned out 🙂 Thanks Alana!
I’m happy for you Alex! 🙂 Hope you have a great time in Indonesia!
Thank you Caroline! I can’t wait to return.
Hi, where do I sign up for the shops with hot dive instructors? Roatan is not in that competition, apparently 🙂
Ha, you crack me up. Well first of all, head to Roctopus on Koh Tao…. the Tripadvisor reviews that go on and on about the hotness of the instructors there are a fun read 🙂 But really, Southeast Asia is kind of a hotbed for them (PUN INTENDED).
This is so ridiculously exciting, and I feel like totally know what you’re talking about. Not many people get it. I travelled with Dane for two weeks in Vietnam and we spent nearly six months apart before I moved to Sydney to see where this would all take us. I’m still here 13 months later. Your friend gave you some really good advice. Take whatever comes your way and embrace it, which you’re doing and you’re inspiring others to do the same. At the end of the day, no one knows what the future will hold, but you’re brave enough to follow your heart and give things a shot. This will be the experience of a lifetime no matter what. Lots of alexandra love x
WOW! I think you’ve told me that story via email in the past but I forgot that it was six months apart. That is some marathon long distance right there. In my past relationship we did a three month stretch apart at the beginning, and then agreed we could never do it again. Ha! Kudos to you girl.
Umm.. yep, totally get the decision! He is gorgeous and you two are gorgeous together! (as long as he knows that if he is mean to you he has 11, 000 of us to answer to, we’re sweet.) 🙂 Happy for you!
Oh Sarah you are very sweet. Number one reaction to this post from my family and friends was… “Did he know you were going to write this?!” And I said yes… but I don’t know if he realized how many people are going to read it! Ha!
What a cute little post!!! And I mean, really, YOLO!!! So true! Good luck with everything Alex, and I can’t wait to hear more of your stories when you’re back in Gili!
Thanks so much! I look forward to having time to really explore Gili on this round and share a bit of what I find beyond the diving! 🙂
Um… hottie Mchottie! Looks like we have crossed past each other, I have just left Gili T! Enjoy, what an exciting chapter in your life x
I actually left about a month ago… whoah, has it been that long?! And wow, I am impressed you conquered Rinjani! I really have that on my list for this trip, but we’ll see if I have time.
You guys look so cute! We literally just left Gili T today; we spent a couple of weeks hopping between the islands and loved it – I can see why you want to return!
I still haven’t set foot on Gili Air or Gili Meno! I MUST get to one or the other on this trip!
Wow, you guys make a great looking couple that’s for sure! Happy to read you’re seizing the moment and going for it. Enjoy Indonesia!
Thanks Charlie! I can’t believe I’m heading back two weeks from today! Time is going fast…
Can he cook?
He better, cause you know I sure don’t. (Instant oatmeal excluded).
Well done, you =)
And stick around till the holidays, will ya, as I’m trying my hardest to get out to Indo to visit my hometown bestie.
I’m back in the good old USA for the month of September but then will likely be back out in the world in the holidays. Who knows where?!
This post seems to have generated a lot of comments. So when are you going to bring him home to ‘meet the parents’?.
Well, I’m meeting his pretty soon! So it will be his turn next…
Congrats Alex! So happy for you, or should I say Anders? He’s a lucky guy!
Ha, you are reminding me of this lovely older couple we met in Bali who we kept running into. They would just go on and on… “I don’t know who is luckier!” Haha, I loved them!
Ooh airing your personal life online, you are far more brave than me. But he is so cute it’s worth it.
Ha, one of my friends called me when she read this and said, “So basically you’re just bragging?” What can I say, I’m a classic oversharer!
Yay, love this post, makes me smile for you! 🙂
🙂 Thanks Cat! It makes me smile too!
Well hello Anders! Does he have a brother? 🙂
Actually he has two! But I think they are taken 🙂
Could you two be any more gorgeous together?! So great to hear things are going well for you. I am seriously excited to hang out with you on GT soon xxx
ME TOO! Do you know your dates yet?
Well hello sailor! Alex, you have a good taste when it comes to men! 😉 You make an extremely sweet couple!
Thanks Tammy 🙂 I think we do as well!
As an avid, long term reader of your blog I just wanted to say how happy I am for you, you seem in such a happy place now. Thank you for oversharing (as you put it), I love reading your blog and as always it inspires me, your writing is so beautiful and honest. Please never stop (oversharing)!x
Thank you so much for these lovely words Ciara! I really appreciate your sentiments and it’s true — I am really happy. I’m glad it’s showing 🙂
Soooooo cute!!!! You will be such an awesome island girl!
I think I already am one! Though I do love my city life too. Hmmmm… that sounds a bit like someone else I know with a name that also starts with A!
Just left Gili Air, was looking for a place to DM for the high season, ahhhh!
Could you not find one on Gili Air? Where are you headed next?
Hanging out in Ubud until the first week of July then hopefully back to the Gilis to find a spot to work for July/August. Loooved Gili Air, such a nice change from Sanur where my bf and I did our DM program.
Know of any shops that need help?
Unfortunately no I don’t 🙁 I mostly know of the opposite… people looking for work! I need to get to Gili Air one of these days.
That is all.
I concur, Erica. I concur.
Hmm.. Idk if I believe that you are indeed in costume, seeing as to everyone else pictured appears casually clad. If you enjoy dressing up like um…a beach thug… just admit it!
Lol but you and Anders look very happy & beyond hot together! Enjoy your second stint in the Indo!
Haha, it was my Snorkel Test — so I was the guest of honor 🙂 Post to come!
New to your blog (found you through Johnny Jet , and I went to Shaker ’04!!) but excited to read about your new adventures! 😀
Hi Chanel! How fun to have a fellow Shaker alum reading 🙂 Glad you found me here, hope you stick around 🙂
It feels weird to say this about a couple I don’t even know but you two are SO CUTE together! 🙂 Follow your heart lady, it’s worth a shot!
Thanks Maddy 🙂 Not weird to say at all — says the girl getting the compliment!
Awww I am just seeing this post!, I think I smiled all the way through it 🙂 you look happy! And I look forward to seeing more pictures….a girls allowed to look 😉 hehe!
I’m glad you’ve managed to find someone that makes you happy again 🙂 xx
Kirsty, thank you so much for this. It means so much to me that you are so sweet and supportive. You’re the best! Heard a Scottish girl speaking the other day on the island and I was thinking of all your girls. Come visit 🙂
Super happy for you Alex!
Good things happen to good people.
Oh my God! i can’t say we had the same exact experience but quite similar!! I also met “someone” 🙂 in Bali! and guess what? we stayed at Gili Trawangan for a while…what a place!i have the best memories of my journey so far! All this happened in April and since then a lot of things happened to me, including following my heart (as you did) and moving with him to Thailand where he teaches english. After 5 months he’s going back to South Africa, and i don’t even want to start thinking about it. But you know what? i would do it again and again. You need to take a chance, to risk everything you know and just live for the moment. I wish you all the best, you rock!
Sounds like a great story 🙂 Love the South African accent, nice catch! Enjoy your time in Thailand, and maybe it’s time to start planning a trip to South Africa after!
omg!! i know i’m way behind on this, but damn it! i love this post!
Thanks Sherwin 🙂 Fun to hear from those poking through the archives!
I loved reading ths post… While actually I just came across your blog and like most posts. Love your energy…
Haha I actually found myself looking for more posts about what happened upon your return but can’t find it…
Anyway I really hope you keep travelling and posting…
Ha, check out any of my posts from Peru, Ecuador, or Panama…. you’ll see what happened when you recognize my travel buddy 🙂
Ended up here somehow via the black hole that is the interwebs and I’m just realizing that this is pretty old but… HE IS HOT. And you two make a very attractive golden couple. Hope whatever happened with him it was a good experience! Will continue enjoying working backwards through your posts. 🙂
Ha, he is indeed! Anders is fantastic and while we aren’t together anymore we are on great terms and wish all the best in the world for each other. We just eventually went in different directions… but you’ll find the post eventually 😉