It’s true, travel can be a whirlwind of overwhelming observations, but I actually prefer it that way. Stark contrasts and surprising culture-shocks are all part of what makes it an “experience” to travel. Having been on the international trail for more than a month now, I’m starting to recognize a sort of pattern I follow when I arrive somewhere new. For the first few days I notice all the many things that make a place different. Then…gradually…I begin to recognize all the things that make it feel the same: familiar. That is perhaps the oddest part for me.
Bali has not started to feel familiar yet. Not in the least. Today a friend shared his hired car and we escaped the tourist town of Kuta for the much quieter Lovina up North. The drive would take just a little over an hour in the States, but when the roads are covered with motorcycles going whichever direction they like on whichever side of the road they like, you are grateful that Balinese drivers go significantly slower on the highway than you or I. A long drive is also a perfect way to see a place as beautiful as Indonesia. We rolled the windows down to feel the sudden coolness of the mountain air as we ascended. The valleys below us were sectioned off in terraces of watery rice-fields. All of this left me stumped as to what to write in my journal. The page laid blank in my lap for most of the drive and I occupied myself, instead, with singing along to the folks songs on our new friend’s playlist.
Suddenly, as though there was nothing strange or extraordinary about it, we sped by a monkey. It watched us from its’ roost atop a guard-rail. Then I noticed a third, a fourth, and on and on. I was thrilled, but our local driver’s straight face indicated that this was a normal sight.
Yes. Of course there are monkeys begging for peanuts at the side of the road in Indonesia.
Expect the unexpected I suppose.