Can't Thai Me Down... travel blog


Have you ever looked back at your life and had that one day in particular that you remember exactly how you felt, exactly how things smelled, and it's almost like a movie of parts of the day are played back in your mind?

Well I hope that yesterday is like that for me. I never want to forget the awesomeness of yesterday.

I woke up at the ass crack of dawn, and walked down the narrow winding back walkway that took me away from the homestay that I had been at for the night, across the street to the place that we had arranged to pick up and take me to the harbor to catch the fast boat to Trawangan, Gili.

The boat departs at 10:30am so pick-up time for me was 7am. From Ubud it was a good ways drive to get to the harbor from Ubud. No A/C in the van and again they squish as many people as possible into one tiny van. One of the girls in the van mentioned that she was taking the slow boat to the Gilis as it was much cheaper. I had wanted to take this route, but was talked out of it by many people because I didn't have much time to waste just traveling. So I stuck to the fast boat. Once on the boat, the way in which we were seated didn't really allow us to see much, the windows were just a tad too far above our heads. But no worries, if you looked just right you could see the seas reflection in the windows of the opposite side.

The closer to Gili we got, the more I became kinda worried, as I had not yet booked accommodation for the time I was to be here. But everyone had said it would be easy, so I swallowed the feeling of being lost and tried to channel 'easy going Ava'. And they were right, I shouldn't have worried, it was super easy! There are a TON of places right on the beach, some super nice, others nothing more than a dark mildowy-smelling bare room. Most folks I had asked had told me they were planning on paying around 100,000 rupees a night which is approx 11.81 usd. Uh yea. For a room. Right on the beach. Insane. I wandered about aimlessly for a while, looking at first this room, then at that room, and finally stumbled upon Soundwave (and my backback was getting REALLY heavy to contnue toting around). Which FYI just happens to be the coolest place ever. Or maybe not place, but def has some of the coolest folks working and staying here. Jack showed me to the room...it's just a small angled room with high ceilings, 2 fans and a random teeny bathroom, but the place is painted yellow on the inside and has big windows and a glass door, so it's cheery. I half-heartedly attempted to bargain the price down but it is apparently a fixed rate, unlike some of the other places. I agreed to the price, dropped off my bags, signed the book, slipped into my swimsuit and got into the water as quick as I could.

It's the beginning of the rainy season here in this part of Indonesia and I was only able to soak up about one to two hours of sun before it became overcast and started sprinkling. No worries, figured I could just go find an internet shop and wait it out. So I walked, and walked, and found out that the closest internet place was still way far off, so finally decided to just hang out at the lobby of my bungalows. The 'manager' on duty today is Jack, and he ended up taking care of me for my stay. He was cooking a meal for the boys during a slow time, and gave me some of it to try. Local food. I love it. He even made mine not spicy.

While sitting there soaking up all the good vibes and rainy misty sea air, a small spry blonde woman came down from the stairs above the lobby area, wearing of all things: black tights and a long sleeved shirt, as if she was cold in this humid tropic area. Helen is called 'Mom' by 'her boys' who work for her, she's Scottish, and she is all things fabulous. I of course immediately fell in love with her. Love her. She made us coffee, and while we sat visiting the afternoon away, one of the local businesswoman from down the street who is from New Zealand, Kerry Ann came to visit. Mom got up and made us all a shake with all kinds of healthy ingrediants. I felt healthy just drinking it. It was fun just watching the two ladies interact, two women from completely different backgrounds, who have both ended up on the same slightly remote island, taking a chance on a comletely different kind of life.

For whatever reason I found myself offering Mom a massage. Now, I haven't offered anyone a free no-strings-attached-full treatment massage in so long, I have no idea what made me blurt out the question to her, but I did, and for whatever her reasons, she accepted. Helen stays in a one bedroom bungalow above the lobby. It has a small (very small) balcony attached, no bathroom, and you have to be careful at the top of the stairs as one or two of the stairs needs repaired and only has a small piece of plywood covering them. With the doors open on either side of the room, the rain gently falling, sea breeze wafting in, and the sound of one of the boys downstairs playing the guitar and singing along, it was incredible. I can easily see myself moving here and setting up shop. Easily.

Tonight Helen took me to dinner to meet her good friend Gabby. Gabby and her husband own a resturant just down the path from Soundwave. It's auhmazing. Pick out what you want and they throw it on the grill right there for you. Chicken or steak kabobs? Fish with the eyes and tail intact? Your choice. So my dinner tonight is BBQ fish (snapper!!), grilled corn on the cob, baked potato with rosemary in the foil wrapping, a grilled banana still in the skin, salad if ya want it, and some kind of new fruit that I've never had. I was stuffed!! Loved it!!

Afterwards we walked to see Gabby's treatment center. Which just happens to be this old bungalow house from Lombok that she is having moved over to Gili and renovated to fit her needs. She calls it her little Antique House. It's over 100 years old and the wooden support beams are so old that the mover guys told her there's not a name for the kind of wood it is, because it doesn't even exist anymore.

Gabby shows me her 'Singing Bowls' and tells me she got them in Singapore, I'm tempted to get me a set while I'm there ;) she seemed a tiny bit disapointed I wasn't staying longer so that she could do a treatment on me. I was too!!! She knows so many different treatment angles and seems like a remarkable healer. I wish I could learn just a little from her to bring home.

We walk back to the restaurant, saying goodbye to first Gabby's daughter then Gabby. As we near our bungalows, Helen confides that she is just worn out and doesn't feel like going to the party at the Irish Pub tonight. Which is ok with me as I've realized I'm kinda tuckered out too. However the closer we got to Soundwave, you could hear the sound of a guitar and some guys singing. Helen got excited and led me across the path to the Turtle Conservatory, where her 'boys' and some other local boys from Lombok were sitting on benches and the wooden railing. The boys got excited that their 'mom' had come to visit and insisted on playing several songs for her, and taking any requests if they knew em. Tears in Heaven, Hey Jude, No Woman No Cry, and many other recognizable songs were played in Mom's honor tonight.

I can't stop grinning like an idiot. It's awesome. They even played the local songs from their Lombok, and songs about Gili, and other native Indonesian songs. Even writing this it doesn't seem real, like did this REALLY happen? Did I really get to be here and experience this?!!

Mom went to bed and the boys kept playing songs for me for a while. They even offered me some homemade rice wine from the village in a shot glass! You could tell that they thought it would affect me more than it did, poor kids didn't realize they were drinking with a pro ;)

They offered to take me snorkeling to all the 'good spots' tomorrow where I could see the big sea turtles and coral, and then afterwards to go up to the hill tomorrow evening on my last night on the islands to watch the sun set. Sweet kids.

Jack ends up offering to go with me to the Irish Bar for the party for a little bit (the island hosts 3 parties a week and rotates which bar/club it will be a so that every bar gets a fair chance for customers). Sounds like fun so we walked forever and a way, drank a few beers, and then walked back on the beach. It's all very romantic on paper, but if you were there you would have heard how that he has 2 wives and baby number 2 is about to pop out any day now!! Hahaha it was all great fun.

Someday when I'm in a nursing home, wheeling around chasing old men or staring off into a space only I can see, I hope I can look back and this be one of the days in life that I remember with clarity.



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