Is there any travelling illness more notorious or dreaded than ‘Bali belly’? ‘Belly’ loses its cuddly associations with cute, chubby babies and instead denotes miserable hours wasted in the bathroom. In my case, ‘Bali belly’ describes a lesser-known, altogether more favourable option: the joyful softness which only comes from good food, good drinks and good company. Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog post about the shits (my sister would kill me).
Leaving New Zealand for Singapore was made bearable by what lay in store at the end: Katy’s family (whom she hadn’t seen in five months), and a warm bed (which we hadn’t had for 48 hours. Which reunion is more emotional?) We spent that first evening catching up and adjusting to the heat with the aid of bevs at Brewerkz, in Clarke Quay. We spent a lovely weekend around the city, revisiting favourite places like Haji Lane, Pedang Terrace and Super Loco, the wonderful Mexican place with spicy fish tacos. On Sunday evening, a jaunt on the east coast took us to Alibabar’s Hawker Bar with various choices of local food that was actually rather similar to a place we visited in Auckland, of all places.
Monday was our last day in Singapore: Katy’s parents, Dave and Nicki, were flying home whilst Kaf, her sister Hannah and I were off to Bali. In an act of monumental generosity, Dave and Nicki took us to Marina Bay Sands for the night. It is, quite frankly, a ridiculous feat of engineering: three enormous towers support a curved boat structure, which in turn houses an infinity pool and several bars, overall resembling something I couldn’t achieve with Lego, let alone bricks and mortar (hence the theatre degree). 57 floors up, I found myself scanning the city for the famous icon until genius hit, bringing, “I am the view,” a whole new meaning.
We had a very sophisticated Italian meal after visiting Gardens by the Bay, an astonishing light show which brings life to several ‘super trees,’ structures which, in the day, look like drunk telephone pylons. It’s one of Singapore’s few free attractions, and one of the best.
After a sensational breakfast at the hotel (buffet – need I say more?) we said a fond farewell to Dave and Nicki and went on our merry way to Indonesia. Two months of non-stop fun isn’t easy, so we resolved to try and relax on the beaches of Canggu for a few days; with only four nights there, we opted to stay in one place, and this little town was widely recommended. In many ways, Bali was exactly how I expected: hot, cheap, relaxed, beachy. The definition of “chilled”. What I didn’t plan for was the food – think Melbourne in Asia, at a third of the price.
Going from surviving largely on fruit and nuts in Singapore (Year of Sexy: the Accident) to a GF haven here in Canggu was a wonderful surprise, and I stretched my reduced appetite immediately on the best veggie pizza since the Poncho at Deus Café (“once a softie, always a softie,” Katy wisely reminded me).
Deus Ex Machina is the flagship store within this restaurant, with beanbags out back, a skate ramp on the side, and a cat with eyes to melt the coldest heart roaming freely. Cats weren’t Canggu’s only furry residents: the Canteen, our favourite breakfast spot, was home to several friendly dogs, presumably strays who did a Rihanna and found love in a hopeless place.
We worked off numerous pizzas and Bintangs by returning to our sporty roots and surfing. I had a whale of a time on Old Man’s Beach, where board rental is just $5/day, and Kaf nailed her first lesson – I think Warwick Surf really have a chance at BUCS this year, you know.
The icing on the cake was meeting up with home pals Tali and Liv, as our paths crossed for a couple of nights. It’s not the first time that the world has felt pleasantly small, and it gave me a little taste of home just before I got there.
So, it’s finally the end of this trip, and definitely, really the end of my year abroad. In two months, I’ve travelled through five countries on 14 planes, through three summers and two winters, wearing one of only two shirts and five pairs of knickers (hand-washing is wicked, and so is forgetting to pack undies). I’ve read eight books, and played dozens of pool games alongside a worrying number of pints which inevitably turn in to a bottle or three…
Kaf and I have spent a concerning amount of time together now, resulting in shared mannerisms, voices, and even a joint bank account; she and Hannah caught their flight home a few hours before me and this quiet solo thing is like learning to walk again. It was even better having the pleasure of being the Sellars’ ‘honorary Daisy’ for a few days, and I’m so grateful for their hospitality; 10/10 legends. It’s all been amazing, for want of a bigger and better word, but now, I am ready to get home: Mum, Dad, Winnie, M&S – I’m coming for you!