I love the way she just survived. Survival looked good on her. There were no dark marks under her eyes. Maybe deep inside, but I liked the way she looked through them and laughed at life. She smiled gracefully and embraced love and friendship. As her confidence and ego had been destroyed, and then reborn, over and over. With ever empowering cycles of self love and growth, her soul became beautiful and she became fearless, in the realisation to give all to life.
The introduction to the book I have been writing and the perfect introduction to the next step of my journey, exploring Bali as a solo female traveller.
Firstly, I think it is time I talk about my writing experience and explain the purpose behind my blog. Last night, I was discussing my passion for blogging and journal writing with three individuals on a rooftop bar in Sydney. One was my best friend, Emma, who always speaks very highly of my blog with so much positivity, pride and joy. The other two I had only just met but honoured me by asking questions and taking a deep interest in what I had to say.
I have been documenting my thoughts for nearly two years. For me, the most insightful part of writing is reflecting on the experiences I have had, and witnessing how they have shaped me. I have become brave enough to reflect back on even the worst experiences: my battles with self-confidence, eating disorders, difficult relationships, losing faith in myself and feeling as if I was destined not to succeed at life (or, at least, that life society led me to believe was 'right'). It has taught me to become grateful for even the worst experiences, as they have made me stronger, wiser and more self-aware.
I am unsure whether I would have been able to take this path of self-discovery, travelling to the other side of the World by myself, negotiating busy foreign airports, dining alone, exploring different cultures, without the help of my blog to aid my confidence. I do not write for other people, although I am grateful to anyone who reads it and resonates with it. I write with purity and honesty for myself.
Following my Yoga teacher training in India, I continued my journey to beautiful Bali. A surfer’s paradise, a yoga lover’s heaven, a health addict’s dream. To be surrounded by beautiful nature, stunning beaches, lovely people, perfect waves, delicious smoothie bowls and unique culture, daily. I opened my eyes to some of the beauty that exists in the World and I became forever grateful for having the chance to experience it. I felt secure, confident and comfortable in my own space.
What has solo travel taught me?
To be confident and independent.
When I began my journey, I became very aware that I was leaving my loved ones and closest friends at home. I would spend the next two months meeting new people and hopefully making new friends. But, what if I didn't? What if people didn’t accept me? What if my shyness took over and I was unable to converse confidently?
With more thought, I realised that it was really me that needed to accept myself. If I like myself and believe I am a good person, then surely other people will be drawn to my qualities and accept me also.
To trust myself and those around me.
I think I have lived a well-rounded thirty-one years, working with an array of clients, in busy hospitals and clinics. I have witnessed trauma, losing loved ones, seeing the people I care about hurt. I have come into conflict, criticism and been the object of dislike.
But I have always come out the other side. I have turned things around, changed negatives into positives. I have had the power to stand up for myself and other people. To be truthful about what I believe in and not shy away from challenges.
Sometimes I have done this on my own. At others I have required the support of the good, kind people who surround me.
We are often disillusioned by the bad and the evil that exists, but there are many good people in this World. There are always people around who will respond generously to a kind face, a bright smile, a loving attitude. A wise women said, 'The beauty you see in others is the reflection of your soul' (Dora Garcia, 2013).
One of my favourite things about Bali was how welcome I felt. I loved the Balinese greeting, bowing with prayer hands to say hello, asking your name and remembering it in a restaurant, shop, spa, hotel. I never felt alone. I experienced a deep, special feeling: that I had a multitude of people watching over me and protecting me from harm .
To be comfortable in my own space.
I stayed at the delightful 'JJ Surf and Stay' in Batu Balong, Canggu. I chose my accommodation on airbnb, having read the unanimously positive reviews, particularly those of solo female travellers who felt confident and comfortable alone in this space.
I had my own private en-suite room but there was another solo female staying in the room next door. On the first day I knocked on her door and introduced myself. Her name was Anna, she was from Berlin and had arrived from New Zealand, having travelled for the past two months on her own. We exchanged numbers and my intention was to meet her for dinner or a day trip.
As the week went on, I became forever more content with creating my own agenda. I hired a driver for two days to take me around the island. I went to coffee plantations, where I sat with the guide as I tasted the many coffee samples and asked him about coffee and life! I walked up a beautiful waterfall, had solo surf lessons, went to several yoga classes. I dined by myself in busy bars and restaurants, surrounded by cool surf dudes and very attractive girls lusting after them. I did not feel uncomfortable or need company at any point. I sat and read my book, wrote my journal, chatted with the waiter. I took my time. I was happy being alone, embracing the moment and my inner calm.
To interact openly with others.
Language and culture can sometimes pose a barrier. But, why? Are they obstacles we build in our heads as an excuse to not try?
In the car journeys with my Balinese driver, Wayan, who spoke very limited English, we enjoyed free flowing conversations. It was challenging for both of us but we managed to find a way of conversing about the surroundings, talking about family and discussing our passions. I began to understand more about his culture, religion and personal values. He learnt about my travels, my work, my family and has welcomed me back with open arms and encouraged me to return to his beautiful town he speaks so passionately about.
To accept my emotions.
I have spoken about the exciting and liberating aspects of travelling. But I cannot ignore the emotional rollercoaster that carries you.
I was lucky, I haven’t many moments of sadness or home sickness. Not that I haven’t missed my family or home, but I know that I shall see them soon. However. There have been certain times when I have seen photos of my friends together or an event at home I’ve missed. It is unfortunate that those times have occurred when I have been having a drink alone or in my hotel room feeling ill with travel sickness.
There have also been moments of anxiety that have set my heart racing: arriving at a busy Mumbai airport and not knowing where to go or how to check in.
I have been generous to myself. I’ve treated myself to a wonderful stay in a 5 star eco yoga retreat. I’ve created fond and wonderful memories of my time in Bali. I cannot complain. But there is something about sharing a moment with someone special. I have missed the company of a loved one or close friend to embrace and share all the beautiful moments.
Desa Seni Yoga Spa Retreat, Canggu.
What I have learned is that you cannot shy away from your emotions. You have to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. Write it down and then pick yourself back up. Remember all the positives of a situation and be grateful. The more you practise this, regardless of the circumstance, the less sadness you will feel.
The value of life.
There have been several moments whilst I have been away, that have made me realise how lucky and blessed I am. I am lucky for many reasons: 1) I have been able to explore incredible countries and take time away from work to do so, 2) I was born into a country that fosters education, provides healthcare, encourages creativity, and keeps me safe, 3) I have been fortunate to work in a reasonably paid job which has allowed me to travel and not worry too much about expenditure, 4) I have a supportive and kind family who will always encourage me to follow my own path.
I vow to never take for granted the life that has been given me . I will always feel blessed for the opportunites I have had.
This is just the start. The beginning of a new chapter. The rest is yet to come.