I was day 8, or was it 9, into my trip. I was losing track of the days, of the time. And it was fabulous. I had done the majority of what I wanted to do from a site seeing standpoint in Bali, so I got up and headed to the beach. My absolute favorite place in Bali. I walked along the beach path, full of ‘Good Mornings’ and smiles. I was in heaven as I sat and drank my pot of Bali coffee, sweating so profusely in the 90-degree weather but not even caring. I had no real agenda for the day but I had been considering a visit to the salon. A visit for me to get my hair completely done in The States would be upward of $400; in Bali, I could do it for less than $125. I found a salon online that looked reputable, so after the many hours of coffee drinking, I headed that way.
Ironically, the hair salon was on a nearby street that I had been wanting to check out. It was full of restaurants and shops, and I knew if I finished walking along the beach, I could cut over a block and get to this area of Sanur (the town in Bali where I was staying). It seemed so simple. And it would have been if I was a car or a scooter.
I ended up on a four-lane highway, I think it must be the only four-lane highway in Bali, propelling myself along with the traffic. There were originally sidewalks, but they deteriorated and there were many cars parked on any remaining sidewalk blocking my way. I pulled off between two parked cars and looked at the map; I think I can make it the rest of the way if I wheel very quickly when traffic breaks. If I’m being honest, this was really stupid of me. I was asking to become roadkill. Driving in Southeast Asia truly is ‘each man for himself.’ I knew I had to get out of this situation, and quickly.
Suddenly, out of the blue, a man on scooter wearing a Grab food delivery shirt (Grab is like Uber in Southeast Asia) slowed down and rode next to me for many meters. He stayed close enough to me to keep any oncoming traffic from wiping me out and really served as a shield. During this frenzy of traffic noises and racing heartbeats, he asked my name, if I was alone, and where I was staying. I told him my name – Renee – but fibbed a bit on the rest (a trick I’ve learned from other solo female travelers). My husband (I’m not married and am traveling alone) was at the Hyatt (I was not staying at the Hyatt). He told me his name, which of course I don’t remember because I was totally panicked at this point, and asked where I was from. When I said ‘America’ (everyone in Bali refers to the US as America, not The States or the USA – just America), he proceeded to tell me that he worked for a cruise ship company years ago and was stationed in Miami. He rode next to me and protected me for a good 10 minutes when I finally told him I think it was best for me to turn back, that the journey to a safer road was just too far on this current path. He agreed, and we parted ways.
As I reversed my path, this time going against traffic, so I could at least see the oncoming scooters and trucks, he appeared again. He was also going against traffic on his scooter and said, “I felt bad. I had to turn back and get you. I couldn’t just leave you on the road alone.” He went on to tell me that he thought I should get on his scooter and we’d fold up the wheelchair and figure out how to get it on the scooter too. Seriously, this was the most crazy idea. I didn’t have a helmet and I’ve seen how these scooters manipulate through the traffic. Totally not safe. Plus, the added danger of a wheelchair on a scooter. I politely declined, but couldn’t help thinking that this was an incredibly kind gesture. Seriously, those things don’t happen in all parts of the world.
Needless to say, I made it back to the safe walking path along the beach and was able to find another street that was much safer with nice sidewalks. As I was going down that street, a man sitting on the roadside with some buddies hollered out, “Renee! You made it! I’m so glad.” It was my scooter friend. This man, despite all of the other chaos, remembered my name. And he was so genuine when he saw me. Truly, a refreshing moment for me.
I managed to find the salon quite easily from there and walked in, totally soaking in sweat from my little ‘adventure’ and asked if I could get my hair done sometime that day. They said, “Sure, how about right now?” Ok, great! When they asked what I wanted done, I told them a full highlight and, on a whim, asked if I could get some pink and purple added. They giggled and pulled out the color palette. I am heading to some more conservative countries in the next few weeks, so we went pretty subtle with the colors, but I am loving them and will definitely add more when I feel it’s appropriate to do so.
As they were finishing up my curls, a wonderful woman walked in. She clearly knew the ladies in the salon and we chatted briefly. Before I left, I had an invite to have drinks with her and her friend at 5 pm. I told myself that I would never say no to an invite on this trip, so I told her I would be there. She seemed a bit surprised, but you know, seize the moment.
I took some time back at my hotel to cool off from my morning adventures before heading out to meet Ingrid and Peter. We had wine – and probably too much wine – at a hotel bar overlooking the water as the sun set. I had only intended to have one drink, maybe be gone for an hour or so. But the conversation was so good and we were laughing and having such a good time that the hours just passed away.
By the time it was really time for me to go, it was pitched black and I wasn’t sure walking the beach path alone was the safest bet. Ingrid and Peter agreed, and they insisted on walking the distance back with me. We got going, and it wasn’t too long into the walk that Peter realized he should just get his car (he and Ingrid both had homes in Bali), load us up, and drive the mile or two back to my hotel. So, we piled into this tiny box of a car and they dropped me off. It was a lovely, impromptu night that I’ll never forget. Thanks for the invite Ingrid!
The next day was difficult for me emotionally. Some things that I thought were in my rear-view mirror reappeared and I had to process them. I allowed myself to be a in a funk all day, feeling and evaluating what I was processing. I was, after all, in the perfect place for self-reflection.
I reminded myself that the journey of our lives is not linear, and the twists and curves in it are often difficult, sometimes bearing themselves as more than we can handle. It was a reminder that the events of our lives will always be there, despite where we place ourselves physically. And for me, learning to let go, finding that inner peace deep down inside, has been the most incredible feeling.
I’ve been giving myself permission to feel on this trip. Feel every emotion, good and bad, and let them become a part of me for as long as they need to. I’ve cried almost every day out of complete and utter joy, something I’ve never done before. And today, I cried randomly through the day out of complete and utter frustration and disappointment. And through all of those tears, I was able to let go. And it feels damn good!
So, for all of you out there going through ‘something,’ I encourage you to feel it, to sit down right beside those emotions, and when you are ready, get up and leave them behind. It is not worth our lives to carry along emotions that have no place at our tables.
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