Ok, I’m going to be honest. I didn’t want to go to Bali. At all.
Doug and I met a new friend when we went biking in Southeast Asia two years ago. April is her name. She lives in Switzerland but she also owns a home in San Francisco where her kids live. So over the last couple of years, besides being Facebook friends, we’ve also been real live friends. And April wanted to do another bike trip with us.
I was not excited. First I didn’t want to travel because my uncle was sick and I wanted to be here for his remaining days. April got that and proposed a trip for way out in the future, which we all knew meant when my uncle would be gone. We didn’t have to say that out loud.
But after Jim died, I still didn’t want to go on this trip. After we sold our Calistoga house, I wanted to stay home with my cat and relish the fact that I only had one house to take care of. I did not want to fly to Singapore by way of Tokyo. To Bali, then Lombok, then Tokyo by way of Bangkok, then home by way of Los Angeles. I did not want to live out of a suitcase in six different hotels over two weeks. I did not want to get on a bike in humid heat.
I wanted to nest. I wanted to do yard work, clean my windows, unpack the few belongings I kept from our Calistoga house.
So on the morning we were leaving, when Doug said, “Do we really have to go?” I understood. I reminded him that it was HIS idea to go, and I hoped he would remember this feeling next time our friends proposed a trip.
On the plane ride to Singapore, I counted down how long it would be until I would get to go home. Only two more weeks.
When we finally arrived in Singapore, I was so happy to see the hotel bed, but I wished I could turn around and get in my own, snuggled up with my kitty.
What happened next was that I had the most amazing time over the next two weeks, despite my constant refrain, “Can we go home yet?”
It is no secret that I’m a control freak. I feel best when I feel in control of all aspects of my life. I guess most people do. But, as we all know, we don’t really control much. On this trip, I relinquished control and basked in the freedom of it.
In Singapore, we were traveling with our friends Kevin and Art. Art should be a trip designer, it’s his natural talent. Well one of many. He planned out the first 48 hours of our trip. The first day we learned about Singapore’s history, culture, and culinary delights on a street food tour of Chinatown. I tried so many new delicacies, although I drew the line at frog porridge. Note, I didn’t say frog-leg porridge. In Singapore they eat the whole damn frog. I ate the porridge part.
I’m not going to take you hour by hour through the whole 48 hours, but they included the Gardens by the Bay--with their solar power, water collecting supertrees--the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Little India, eating at a wonderful dive cafe where I was sure I would contract some horrible disease, shopping, drinking at a speakeasy that required us to guess the password to get in, and more eating and more drinking.
By the time we flew to Bali, I felt like we had been gone for a month.
In Bali, our biking group consisted of six women and Doug. We called ourselves the sister wives, or Doug’s harem depending on the mood. We biked, hiked and snorkeled our way through Bali and Lombok’s temples, rice fields, and waterfalls.
We went to a Balinese family’s home and learned how to cook Balinese cuisine.
On the last day of the bike trip I was so sad to leave these women and our wonderful guides. Yes, I was still looking forward to going home, but I didn’t want the trip to end either. How do you reconcile those two things? I don’t know.
In Singapore, in Bali, in Lombok, in Tokyo, I planned nothing. I went with the flow. I relinquished control and loved every minute of it, even while I was hating some of the minutes of it (the early ones, the hot ones, and the ones riding bikes on scary terrain).
The day we finally got home I was so happy. I was so happy to see my kitty. I was so happy to go on a walk in my neighborhood. I was so happy to sleep in my own bed and play my piano. I vowed not to leave my house again until 2018.
And then this morning I found myself perusing the bike-tour company’s website for our next trip.
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