Bali part 3 – Lessons learnt ala Eat, Pray, Love.

Today is the 50th day since getting robbed and I’m glad to let everyone know that things have been put back as it should be. I’ve got a new phone, I’ve replaced my IDs and driver’s licences and sorted everything out with the banks. The only irreplaceable items are my student card from university and a deep purple Rimmel eyeliner which they no longer sell (oh my first world problems).

On my first day back in KL, I ended up having dinner with another solo traveller extraordinaire. After telling him what had happened in Bali, he responded with a nonchalant “Well, none of this will matter in 3 months”. To my surprise, it took less than 50 days for the incident to stop having its effect on me.

Yet, it’s been 50 days and I’m still learning about myself from that one trip. Does that make sense? Since coming home and meeting up with old friends, I’ve found myself becoming a huge advocate for independent travel, despite the bad, ugly and downright scary. So I thought I’d list down all the things I learned about myself in Bali, hoping that it would inspire you to travel solo too.

I learned that I’m unfit and am physically useless. Had I been able to at least throw something, I could have thrown a rock at the motorcyclist who took off with my bag. I also almost drowned because I’ve got the stamina of an 80-year old with atwo hip replacements. I have no excuse to be this unfit and yet, I am.

I learned that my heart needs to be taken care off. On my last night, I was overwhelmed. I don’t know why I was upset and couldn’t put my finger on it. In hindsight, I think I was hoping for a real life-changing trip in Bali (influenced by movies like Eat Pray Love, I know I’m an idiot) which never happened. But I was upset and broke down in a fancy Italian restaurant where they refused to serve me a Coke float. I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions and they burst out of me like a dam would in some apocalyptic movie. I sat there crying, chest heaving for at least 20 minutes. Even drowning didn’t make me cry.

I also wear my heart on my sleeve, and that takes courage even if it’s absolutely stupid. No, I didn’t fall in love in Bali, I refuse to be that much of a cliche. But I was was stuck in a limbo with someone I had met in what feels like another lifetime ago, and I needed to deal with it. It’s one of the shittiest parts about travelling, meeting people you get along with but knowing it’ll never last for more than a few months because you’re never going to see each other again. That shit only happens in the movies or in Taylor Swift’s life. I, on the other hand, am a silly Malaysian girl who dreams more than she lives. Having all that time to myself with an unlimited supply of Bintang  beer forced me to think about what I had put my heart through. As much as I learn about myself and grow from putting myself out there, is the emotional turmoil worth it? I’m still figuring that out.

Finally, I need to learn to live in the now and appreciate the situations I find myself in. So very often I feel like I’m flailing in life, especially when I go on social media and look at fabulous pictures of people moving forward in their lives. I begin to compare my experiences with theirs and seriously question how the hell I ended up here. Sometimes I feel trapped.

That’s when I need to remind myself, like my friend often does, that I am free. I don’t need to fly across the ocean to be free, but I can. I am free to choose whatever I want to do. I’m free to explore, I’m free to stay. But with all this freedom, that’s where the problem lies, isn’t it? What does one do with all this freedom?

I believe with all my heart that the answer is out there, somewhere. I just need to get off my ass, go out into the world and find it.