Saya capek minggu ini...
[I am tired this week]
Three weeks I've been in Bali, now, with one left to go, and I'll admit I'm exhausted. It's interesting reflecting back on the time I've spent here as I sit under the air conditioning in my room that only goes down to 18 degrees (C) and chug back water I can safely drink only from the coolers dotted around the villa.
To say I love Bali would be absolutely inaccurate. To say I hate it would be too strong. Let's settle on the fact that Bali and I don't see eye to eye, but we can respectfully step away from each other and continue our lives without incident.
I honestly can't pinpoint what it is that doesn't quite agree with me in this country. The culture shock was huge the first week here, but that isn't it anymore; there's a deeper tug here that has me wanting to just pack my bags and head home early.
Discounting the times I've been sick (once with Bali Belly and once with the common flu) Bali has treated me fairly well. There have been things to see and people to meet and new things to discover. I've touched and kissed baby elephants and have photos to prove it. I've let myself fall deep into the traditional markets of Ubud and Canggu. I've gathered the courage to ride on the back of speeding scooters, now, using only one hand to hold on as the other browses podcasts or films my journey. I've swallowed my share of experiences while here, and yet I don't feel like I will come away from this trip immediately planning my return. Or ever planning it.
I came here as a Global Hobo intern, learning the ropes of the freelance journalism trade and pushing my muse to throw off some of the comfort of creative writing to stretch it to something more worthy of a pitch to a magazine. That experience has been wonderful. The entire team - teachers and interns alike - has become a huge family that I know for a fact I won't soon forget or lose touch with. But Bali itself...
I'll be the first to admit my Western privilege when it comes to traveling. I've found it hard not to use toilet paper for three weeks, and not put my bottle under the tap when I want a drink, and not feed the starving stray dogs that meander around every warung. I've found it hard to get around only by taxi or bike, rather than taking a bus or train. I've found it hard trying to budget my money when food here costs so much. I've found it hard - and nerve-wracking - carrying cash on me, when in NZ I only ever carry my cards. I've found a lot hard.
But it isn't even that.
It isn't the fact that most of the places I've visited are more Australian than they are Balinese. It isn't the fact that there is trash all over every street that white tourists add to without a second glance. It isn't the fact that most days the temperature here is twice the temperature I am comfortable functioning in.
It's just that I don't feel inspired here. Is the country beautiful? Absolutely, some parts of it are breathtaking. Is it exciting? All new experiences are. I can't say I'm disappointed in the trip, far from it, but I can guarantee you that I'm not leaving it filled with boundless energy and a new love for protein shakes and early morning yoga. In fact, I am groaning at the fact that I have another week here.
In the simplest terms, Bali just isn't my jam. Bali was so out of my comfort zone to begin with, that I suppose I just proved myself right in that it isn't a place I'd want to go again. I've given it a good go; I've learned the language as much as I can in these weeks, I've gotten on board - literally - with their form of scooter transport, I've learned to cook Balinese food and appreciate just how nuanced and delicious it is. And I've come away experienced and comfortable in saying I never want to come back.
I guess that's a form of self-knowledge isn't it? A level of self-discovery? Understanding you dislike something is just as important as understanding you like something, it holds just as much gravitas to come back from a place uninspired as it does to come back completely changed.
I think so, anyway.