We cannot believe it’s already been a month since we left Perth and our friends and family behind, to pursue our nomadic existence on the road! It feels as though we left just yesterday, but at the same time – like we’ve been doing this forever!
I think it’s fair to say we’ve experienced a bit of a ‘baptism by fire’ – faced with lots of typical issues that long term travellers come across whilst on the road – all within the first month. If we’ve survived this month, fingers crossed it’ll ease up from here – I’m sure there are worse times ahead, but a slight reprieve would be fabulous!
Here’s a bit of a recount – the good, the bad and the ugly!
It all started as soon as we arrived in Medan, Sumatra – we thought we were only 2km from the city centre – however quickly realised our Lonely Planet was outdated, a NEW airport had been constructed since it’s writing and we were in fact 39 kilometres away from the city centre. It took us over two hours to get to our accommodation, due to poor road conditions and floodwaters – yes, floodwaters in the middle of the city.
As we hadn’t planned ahead with accommodation – we were just going to ‘wing it’ – we quickly realised we were in all sorts of trouble as we weren’t aware that it was Ramadan and everything was booked out. We spent a painful couple of days trying to figure out where to go, when, how we were going to get there and where we were going to stay! You can read all about that experience here.
We had just one full day in Banda Aceh, a day we had organised as we wanted to see the Tsunami Museum – it turns out, on this particular day – well that was the END of Ramadan, a national holiday – and you guessed it, the museum was closed! We were able to see a number of other tsunami sites which were incredibly moving, but it was disappointing that we missed the museum.
After a hectic start, we were stoked to spend six whole days in Danau Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. We had a beautiful little room in amongst gorgeous gardens for just $15 a night, right by a range of restaurants and in amongst the tourist hub – a perfect spot to explore from. Unfortunately we lost a few days of being able to do anything – it was here that Mike was struck with horrific food poisoning that knocked him off his feet for a good 48 hours. I also had the lovely experience of being attacked by what I can only conclude were bed bugs. EVERYWHERE. Feet, legs, thighs, bottom, back, arms, hands… I easy had over 100 bites and was in agony for a good four days – trying not to scratch was impossible!
On our return back to Medan, I got violently car sick – moral of the story – plastic bags are great to have on your person, but only if they have no holes in them…
The following day was our ‘goodbye’ day – we had to go our separate ways. Mike was initially meant to fly to Bali with me, and then home from there but due to the activity of Mt Raung and not knowing if conditions would suddenly change – Mike couldn’t risk flying to Bali, and then not being able to fly home and missing his return to work. So he bought another flight, and went home via Kuala Lumpur. That was just shy of an $800 ‘insurance policy’… but it had to be done. Just in case. And you know what? The day Mike was MEANT to fly home from Bali – all volcanic activity stopped and all flights resumed. Yep. *Sigh*
Things have definitely improved since being in Bali – that is after the horrific flying day for myself – suffering food poisoning/gastro/who the hell knows what for the entire transit day. I spent my first week in Ubud, doing nothing but eating, napping, exploring, napping again, reading, and attending yoga classes at Yoga Barn – they run a fantastic establishment with a range of classes to suit everyone’s abilities. You can check out their extensive timetable here.
My biggest headache in Bali was the mission to extend my visa – something which there was no current information about online, which led to quite a time consuming and costly endeavour. You can read all about my dramas here.
The highlight of my time here in Bali was having the opportunity to stay at the beautiful Padma Resort in Legian, absolutely free! Five days of five star bliss. I did nothing but eat way too much at the buffet breakfast, tan and swim all day, and order room service and watch HBO at night. Shout out to my mum and dad for those five days of heaven – it was originally their room, but they had to cancel their trip to Bali and they weren’t able to have their stay refunded – so they gifted it to me! It was an amazing few days!
I’ve since relocated to more modest surroundings, and spending the week knuckling down and being productive. I’m working on building our website at the moment, learning more about how it works through some online courses I’ve enrolled in which I’m really enjoying. I’m also enjoying having a bit of a routine to my days.
Mike and I meet back up on Thursday at our next destination – Yogyakarta in Java. We’ll spend the next two or so weeks moving from Yogya through to East Java, before flying to Singapore for a week.
So that’s a wrap, our first month on the road! We might post beautiful pictures and sentiments of what we’re up to and what we do on social media, but there’s definitely much more to it behind the scenes – hopefully I’ve enlightened you and given you a bit of a chuckle about the ‘not so beautiful’ side of things. In saying that, we’ve had a ball so far. We don’t regret our decision for a second and both of us are the happiest we’ve ever been!
Fingers crossed Java treats us a little better than Sumatra did though!