If you have ever ridden a fast boat from Bali to the Gili Islands, you know what I am referring to when I say the ride is hell and I don’t care how brave you think you are. Unless by some grace of God you had a smooth day at sea on this route. The ride to Gili Trawangan from Bali wasn’t nearly as horrific as the way back to Bali because I had just gotten back from the hospital with strep throat (story for another day), but I honestly felt so terrible I didn’t pay attention to my life being in danger. One of my favorite female bloggers, Adventurous Kate (Click here to see her post and to follow her blog), wrote about her experience being shipwrecked in Indonesia off the coast of Komodo Island and I only wish I read it before my ride. I hate flying and maybe I am just a baby, but I would have totally felt safer in a plane… Never thought I’d say that!
I flew into the Mile-High city of Denver and the first thing I thought to myself was, thank goodness for the Columbia jacket sale I went to the week prior. I mean, it’s COLD. I was there to visit my roommate from college and had no particular plans. I was surprised that people drive on the roads when they are icy and when it snows although I shouldn’t have been since my childhood was based in Massachusetts. I think I have just turned into a southern softie. I am more accustomed to the laughing stock that is Atlanta, Georgia during the the Snow Apocalypse of 2014. I survived.
There is nothing I love more than experiencing a new place, but since I spend a majority of my money on international travel sometimes I have to find thrills a little closer to home. I currently live at my parents (judge away but you should see how much money I save by not paying rent) in Atlanta, Georgia known for… Well, Ludacris, southern hospitality (unless it’s rush hour) and the worst sports teams ever so I can see why it’s not really viewed as a desirable vacation spot. Since my boyfriend lives out of state and I live at home, when he comes in town we stay at a hotel in the city and have mini-vacations. When I treat Atlanta like I’m a tourist, it is really amazing what the city I live in has to offer.
For those who don’t know what WWOOFing is, it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Travelers who seek these opportunities are required to do work on organic farms in exchange for free room and board. I want to preface this post by saying I have had both really miserable WWOOFing experiences as well as enlightening.
Before jet-setting across the world, I read the blogs of girls who recommend what you should pack and tried to plan accordingly. The problem with those blogs is that I strongly believe that there is no possible way these people actually ever experienced living out of a backpack through the tropical rain forests of Asia and the hot temperatures of the South Pacific. I had a Gregory Jade 70… which is a pretty big pack that I could barely hold up. Made for a good daily workout!
Spirituality is the lifeblood of the Indonesian island of Bali. There are hundreds of Hindu temples and with our trusty Balinese guide we traveled to what feels like all of them. The religion itself is like nothing I have experienced. Before entering you have to put on what I will call a sarong because technically that is what it is. Might I also add it’s 95 degrees and you’re in a long, thick skirt? Moving on, while praying you take off your shoes (got to just not think about the germs, I’ve come to terms with having to do that constantly at this point). I never exactly mastered the prayer part but it includes putting flowers on your head and behind your ears then drinking holy water and splashing yourself with it. When you write it out it sounds silly but it is actually very peaceful.
Today we joined the locals in celebrating Asian culture and Buddhist values at Queensland’s most prestigious cultural event – The Buddha Birthday Festival… Also known as eating our weight in vegetarian Asian cuisine. For those who don’t know (including myself prior to following red floating balloons to the festival), Buddha’s birthday is the most significant day of the year for Buddhists, with celebrations for the birth, enlightenment and death of Sakyamuni Buddha, the Founder of Buddhism…. BUT THE FOOD. THE FOOD IS WHAT MADE IT AWESOME.
When I started telling people I quit my job and about my plans to travel for an unspecified amount of time, I was met with overwhelming support as well as concern. To start, I was someone who had a solid career plan since high school and had followed through with it until age 25. To say I woke up one morning and said, “Today is the day I quit my job and book my first flight on a trip around the world” would not be too far off from my story. Am I scared of coming back home to look for a job after a year long gap on my resume? Sure, but I’m more scared of what my life would be like without this experience.