Chapter 3 – Alone together
Loneliness has never bothered me as a traveller or as a person before. I always seemed to find it quite enjoyable being on my own. I recently realised, however, when I was budget traveller, hostel life was very different to the slightly more luxurious single room experience that I enjoy now. When I was booking my room in Ubud, Bali, I struggled to decide whether to stay in a shared room or my own space. I flip flopped between different accommodations, searching for something that could fulfil both needs. But it’s very hard to judge what a place is REALLY like until you get there.
When I arrived in Ubud I felt extremely lonely. EXTREMELY. It was an alien feeling to me and I think it was born out of being on the Islands for so long, still getting used to the Indonesian customs and feeling pretty isolated, poised between the guests and the staff. It’s a halfway job and singular.
I arrived in the afternoon, hoping to find a group of friendly people lounging in the common area, but there was nobody. So after unpacking and eating, alone, I decided to go for a walk to explore Ubud. The thrills of the evening were such a change from my quiet candlelit island. Traffic everywhere, dancers, street food, market stalls and so many tourists.
I have no problem with tourists by the way. There’s different ways to travel and explore a place. I prefer to go off the beaten track myself but the tourism industry allows for a better quality of life for a lot of people in the world who’s ancestors struggled to get by. It can also ‘ruin’ a place but you know, change is change. Who’s to say what is good or bad about progression. It’s a dichotomy.
After walking the streets for a little while, I finally started to feel what I experienced when I went travelling years ago. Freedom of adventure. That sensory buzz when you tread new streets. The sheen of tradition meeting modernity. Intoxicating trip.
I settled myself down in a restaurant that overlooked a side street. Nothing delights me more than people watching. I ordered a spicy pineapple cocktail and introduced myself to two french ladies who sat down next to me. My ability with the French language always surprises me. I manage to pluck these long forgotten words out of the recesses of my mind. My new venture in learning Bahasa probably lubricated the language sections of my brain which helped.
I went to bed that night hoping to meet someone to share some experiences with. There’s a great power in manifesting but there’s also another great power underlying your experiences. Sometimes what you need comes to you in a way that seems like it’s the complete opposite of what you wanted. But retrospectively, you can look back on that time and see why it occurred the way it did. I can see the patterns in what happens to me, or happenings that I am part of, and sense the logic in it. Even if it is illogical, as is often the case with anyone who’s paying attention to the growth of their own spirit.
13th April 2019 – Saturday
Local Time – 12.16pm
Location – A Cafe Somewhere Outside Ubud
Mood – Sticky
There’s a couple of things I wanted to note. Most solo travellers have experienced the look of shock/fascination/horror when you explain you’re on you’re own. At least three times yesterday I was asked ‘Where are your friends?’ One time at the Taxi rank when I arrived in Kuta, repeatedly making sure he didn’t have to wait for someone else, and then again when I was shown my family sized room. Four beds for one person is excessive and really nails down the fact that I’m alone.
Good news though! When I arrived yesterday I broke the Taxi curse. This series of bad luck has followed me wherever I travel. As soon as I alight from a plane I am usually ripped off by the taxi driver or if I get a lift from a friend, we lose the car or are involved in minor car accidents.
Yesterday the web almost got me again, until, my wits kicked in and all was well. I chose the established taxi company rather than the long haired charmer handing out cigarettes and most likely an extra fee or two in the form of some made up charge presented halfway through the journey when it’s too late to get out.
Although the journey took a long time – an hour and half due to traffic – it was uneventful. The sky was grey and we passed many Balinese communities on my way to Ubud. I even nodded off.
Today has been spectacular. Free breakfast due to lack of shower water (even though the showers was in fact working) followed by jumping straight onto a scooter and exploring Ubud. I found ‘Sika Gallery’ run by a fascinating Balinese artist who has exhibited worldwide since the 1980’s. We had a nice conversation about his travels and how much he despises the French above all. I am going to stay in touch with him.
I have taken lots of photos of sculptures for the project. Currently I am cooling down in a jungle cafe after a very hot and humid walk called Campuhan Ridge Walk. Should have work looser clothing. I am cursed with a extreme red face when I’m hot. Very embarrassing.
It’s only midday and I’ve done so much. Getting up early is fabulous. An 8.30am rise is a lie in to me now. Extremely content.
Suffix: The shifting of my emotions was swift. I remember the monster of loneliness rearing it’s furry head almost directly after I wrote this entry, making me imagine strangers had an ill will towards me. I remember trying to engage with people by smiling and rarely getting a response. I remember being angry towards people for their ignorance.
I also remember realising a while later, that it was probably my desperation for company that made me a person to avoid. The power of the subconscious mind at recognising other peoples intentions should never be understated. I think this, more than anything, is what I have learned so clearly in the past few months and is probably something I will repeat in future blogs. If you’re chill, you will attract chill. If you’re desperate, you will be avoided.
My vulnerability at this point was still not clear to me. I knew my emotions were volatile at best and I was hoping that this was not a permanent reaction to my new life. I was waiting. Waiting for things to calm. It would be another two months before this happened. A single plane of my meta journey was still in the early stages.
We are a constant series of beginnings, continuations and endings. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day, week by week, all overlapping and reacting with each other as we navigate through the paradigm we call ‘our life’. Spotting these transitions is a skill you can develop and evolve. It gives you the power of perspective and a more full experience of the different shades of existence.
Next blog: Bali, continued… White water rafting and haunted jungles.