I left my home in July with a one way ticket to Bali for an unknown time. I have been traveling for almost 4 months now in and around Indonesia. I’m looking back to overview these beautiful months. I have been in so many beautiful places, I have done so many amazing things and I’ve had the honor to meet lovely people. It made me a richer woman and I think it made me a different woman, well maybe I should say a better version of me. A woman who is able to conquer her fears, who puts less value to others opinions, who learned to listen to her heart and trust her instincts. I would love to share my reflections on this.
“Dreams at first seem impossible, then seem improbable, and finally, when we commit ourselves, become inevitable”-Mahatma Ghandi
When I arrived in Singapore, my backpack was not there. I was okay with it because I kinda expected this after three transfers. They told me they would send it to Bali when they located it so I took my flight to Bali. Eventually it took them five days to find it so I ended up being stuck in Kuta longer than planned. The first days were okay, but after a while I felt lost. I had no idea how to deal with this. I had such a good preparation, all seem lost. Suddenly this meant a lot to me. Although its only stuff, it felt like it was all I had. At one point I realized that I would manage, I just had to find other ways. The only way to get through this is to accept it, so I went to the mall to buy what I needed for these days. When I walked out of the mall, I got a call, the backpack was found and arrived on Denpasar Airport (Bali).
I remember walking back by the beach, feeling so happy. I was surprised about the timing of this call. I needed this experience to let go of the attachment of material things and really arrive in the present by standing still for a few days. And the best, and most important one, letting go of the illusion of having control and to accept things as they are. It makes my journey a lot more interesting and it makes me as free as I can be.
In the first weeks I had no idea how to travel around, how to travel on a low budget, where to eat and how to find a cheap place to stay. The first days I was also not ready yet to eat alone in restaurants so I lived of bread from the supermarket. The first time I went for diner in a restaurant on my own, was in Canggu. It felt a bit awkward but I got used to it pretty quick, now it is normal for me. A friend from home told me about booking.com so booking a cheap place to stay is very easy. When I wanted to take a taxi I tried to negotiate but I didn’t have a clue about the prices. So I paid way too much the first weeks.
I travel without a plan and after 3 months I still don’t plan that much. Some people asked me before I left about my plan and why I didn’t have one. Well having a plan gives me control and that’s exactly what I want to learn to let go, the great illusion we all love so much, control. I wanted to experience freedom, go with the flow of life. The delayed bag helped me in this, it showed me things will work out and forced me to accept and go with the flow.
So my whole journey was impulsive, I went with the flow. I decided on the day before or even the day itself to go somewhere, unless I had to fly. I don’t even plan my day, in the morning I wake up and get breakfast. After breakfast I decide what to do. A lot of times unexpected things appear on my path, I meet people who invite me, I find a beautiful place or end up doing nothing.
Since I was a child I’ve always been a bit afraid of new places just because I can’t predict or make a picture of it. Of course as I’ve grown older it changed but I was always a bit tense and if I could avoid it, I would. The first times walking into a hostel was a bit weird but I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I expected. It went really easy so after a couple of times it was so normal, I didn’t even think about it anymore. The first plane I got after arriving on Bali was a flight from Lombok to Kuala Lumpur. I loved the feeling of freedom to just get a plane. Traveling solo is not that scary as I thought it would be. It is the opposite, I love it to travel alone, it gives me a great feeling of freedom and strength.
I loved being abroad almost immediately, especially after I found peace with the missing bag. I love the different people, the different smells, different languages and atmosphere, different rules and social norms. It is inspiring to throw yourself into the unknown. It wakes you up and opens your eyes.
The more time I spend abroad the more I let go a lot of my opinions, my norms. I got rid of a lot of things that I thought was normal or the way I thought it should be. I got rid of the great amount of thinking. It creates an open minded state where I don’t judge because the pillars on which my judgments are build broke down. And I have to say I am not the judgmental type, I am open minded and I find things I don’t know very interesting but traveling and letting all go like this makes you realize how much you actually do judge. And you can be open minded but what you don’t know is not there, so how open minded can you be when your world is small. I’ve always been in the impression that I don’t have small world, I know many different people, have been in many different countries, I have lived many different life’s. But traveling like this, meeting people from all over the world, made me realize that I don’t know shit! I have lived in a really small world.
One of the magical things about traveling is meeting people. Because I also love my own company I don’t really need people around me, although I like it to have people around every now and then but I don’t compromise in it. So when I do choose to travel or spend time with someone, there must be some kind of chemistry. Sometimes you just meet people with whom you connect right away. Those are the people I love to have around me so in a short time you build a pretty strong connection. Because you are there by choice, the beautiful moments you share with someone become an intense experience. You are in a different world and because you are traveling alone there are no rules. The interaction and feelings are pure and honest. I love that feeling and I love it to share it with someone, it feels like magic, I think it is magic.
Like there is magic in meeting people, there is just as much magic in being alone, maybe even more. I need to be alone every now and then, more than I expected. I needed my alone time at home and I got irritated when I didn’t get it, well I found out that also happens while I am traveling. So every now and then I take a week or two to be alone. I went to Java and to Malaysia to travel around on my own. In between I take a few days or some moments alone time. I feel strong when I am alone, stronger then when I am around people. I feel free, what makes me feel incredible happy. That doesn’t mean there are no moments with lonely feelings. The lonely feeling is coming from not being able to share that happy feeling which you fully experience because there is no one to distract you. So it is a bit contradictive. Besides that I am also not sure if I meet people who I can connect with, because I like to be alone I don’t worry about it but sometimes the feeling passes where it makes me a bit lonely and insecure. I can’t really explain it, I guess it is the inability to look at the whole picture, there is only now. That feels a bit weird sometimes. But luckily I know feelings are temporary so I can accept that feeling so it passes pretty quick.
When traveling for a long period I need to feel at home every now and then. Ubud became a home for me. So I kept on coming back, I even stay there now for a longer period. But even when I am somewhere for a few days, I need my time to feel comfortable and feel a bit like home. When I was traveling with 3 Dutch people, who were on a holiday for a month, I had to set my boundaries. They were going home after this month so they did a lot of activities. But for me, I am not going to be home in a while so I better make sure I feel at home every now and then. Since the beginning and I’m still doing that, I am taking a day off here and then, just to hang around in the hostel to get that feeling of home. I don’t like it to stay somewhere only two nights, sometimes I still do it but prefer to stay somewhere longer to feel a bit at home. And luckly I have all the time in the world to do so.
I learned to trust more on my instinct and listen to my heart. Because my mind is clear and there is nothing that occupies my mind I don’t get distracted from my feelings. My heart and instinct is all I have, they are my compass. So I listen to it and do what they tell me not knowing where it will lead me. Of course I still don’t always know if it is my heart or thoughts build on fear but I’ve made some mistakes in this judgment which made me recognize the difference more and more. Feelings are incredible intense, I have never experienced this much love and it seems to be endless. I started to realize that home is something you carry in your heart. When you are comfortable with yourself, when you love yourself you can feel at home everywhere. And the people you love, who help to create your home, they are always in your heart.
I’ve experienced a lot of fear before I left on this travel which I tried to embrace and accept. Conquering my biggest fear, not being stopped by it but going through it, made me free and strong. I have come to realize that a comfortzone is the most dangerous thing in the lifes of people who need their freedom. It prevents you from flying, while the urge for that keeps you awake at night. Looking back makes me a bit sad as well because I have underestimated myself. I feel bad about it because I don’t like to underestimate people, to not have faith in their strength, so how could I have been so hard on myself? Luckily I found my peace in it because the disappointment in myself hopefully will prevent me from making the same mistake again.
For those who don’t know and haven’t read My one way ticket to Bali, last year I ended my relationship after 10 years. I wanted to go travel but I decided to stay in the Netherlands for a year, or at least until I got back on my feet. Because I knew it was going to be hard and I didn’t want it to be an escape. So I gave it time, gave myself time to heal and build a life in the Netherlands. I found myself back and discovered many things about myself being single, in a life without a partner by my side. It made leaving home more hard because I really found my happiness.
Before I left I even met my ex his new girlfriend, to confront myself with the reality and to see his happiness. The feeling of being replaced, the feeling that life goes on without you was good to experience. Because leaving home will teach me that just as well and maybe it would not be so hard to experience if I confront myself with that with the once most important person in my life. I didn’t want anything occupying my mind, which it would have had if I didn’t meet her. Besides that, leaving him was very hard because he was the best thing that ever happened to me so I wish him all the happiness in the world. It was very good to see him happy with someone which is more important to me than the pain it gave me. I got over the pain and I know now that he is happy. Now I can confirm that I’ve made the right choices. It makes me experience my travels peaceful without any pain and worries.
I have come to see the world from a different angle. The world is an amazing loving place full of kind and caring people. I have felt safe everywhere I’ve been, maybe also because I follow my heart which leads me to loving people and peaceful places. Most travelers I meet are kind people who care about the world and the people around them. Who appreciate nature and the freedom life gives them. My creativity got touched in different places, the most in Ubud, where I choose to stay for a longer period. At first to recharge before traveling again but later because this is a place where I can grow. Ubud gives me so much, I feel good and I am surrounded by people and an environment which inspires me. I ended up buying a guitar and a laptop to write my stories and to play the guitar like I always wanted. Sometimes it feels like my heart is exploding, so that is where I started writing so I can express all the feelings I have. I realized I found my dreams back, writing and playing music, which I let go years ago thinking that I could never make it happen. And here I am doing what I love, living a life I love all by overcoming my fears and following my heart.