The clouds are thick and dark, all you can hear are the rumbling sound of the thunder and the heavy rain falling hard on the concrete roads. Every now and then someone on a scooter completely drenched rush by.
I’ts Monday and the weather is shit. The streets are practically empty, giving me the feeling of a ghost town. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m in Thailand. I’m in Koh Tao drinking coffee, and I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
I’ve been ‘on the road’ for almost 3 and a half month now, and it’s crazy to think of how much I’ve experienced so far, all the memories that’s been created. And most importantly – all the people I’ve gotten to know.
In Bali I continued to meet people supporting me while I was dealing with the loss of my friend, everyone being warm and kind. I went to the Philippines for a whole month, and saw the most stunning nature and beaches I have ever seen, and I was never alone (unless I chose it myself). People treated me like family and cooked me dinner and took me on boat trips. Great conversations were had, and friendships were made. And then I made it back to my dear Thailand, where I feel like I belong. To everyone I met, you know who you are. Thank you for the memories, the conversations, the drinks, the jungle dancing, the drumming and the laughs.
After a week in lovely Koh Chang, and a quick weekend in Bangkok, I’m now in Koh Tao. The rain is pouring down cleaning any slate that needs cleaning.
And I am grateful.
Next stop on the road will be Koh Phangan, and then back to Tonsai, where I will set up camp for a little while. See you when you see me.
Nobody plans to be half a world away at times like this..
You get comfortable in your travel bubble, you see beautiful new places, meet amazing likeminded people and create wonderful memories. It’s easy to forget that that things go on back home also when you’re not there. No matter how well traveled you are, nothing really can ever prepare you for bad news back home when you’re at the other side of the planet.
I woke up one week ago to a Facebook message from a friend from my home town, telling me he had some bad news. My stomach twisted as I read that sentence. What do you do when you are completely alone in a hotel room far away, with none of your close friends near by when you get the news that someone you loved has died?
After a melt down and a panic attack I pulled myself together and messaged Erin, a girl I met at a local bar a few nights earlier, who immediately jumped on her scooter to come and meet me so I wouldn’t be alone. We walked to a quiet beach and sat and just talked and looked at the waves for a few hours. Thank you, Erin.
The morning after I checked out of my hotel and got the first taxi back to Canggu, a place I visited and really enjoyed a few weeks back, just to be in a more familiar environment.
There’s a Facebook community called Girls LOVE Travel with hundreds of thousands of women talking about all things travel related, and I reached out to them regarding dealing with sorrow while traveling. A girl named Megan saw my post and chose to come over to Canggu for some support. We went to the beach for the sunset and lit a candle for him, and this friendly stranger held me as I cried my eyes out as the sun sank below the horizon. Thank you, Megan.
I’m writing this in hope that it might help someone else that’s in the same situation. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to strangers. Most people are good people. Take one day at a time. And if that becomes too much to handle, take an hour at a time. And breathe.
And for me, I’m getting by. In a couple of days I’m heading to Filippines, and I’m really looking forward to that.
– Love, Charlotte
Here are some pictures from my ventures around Bali the last few weeks.
The moment I stepped of the fast boat in the harbor of Gili Air, I felt that I had arrived in island paradise. Gone were the traffic and the noise of busy Seminyak, Bali. Here I found the slow, easy going laid back island life I had been longing for.
The Gili’s are a group of islands just of the coast of Lombok, and they belong to the Lombok region. Not Bali, as many people think. All though Bali is mainly hindu, Lombok like the rest of Indonesia, is mainly muslim, which means the culture and religious elements are a little bit different here than in Bali, where most people travel from when they go to the Gili islands. In the middle of Gili Air is the Mosque, who calls out for prayer several times a day, which you quickly get used to (even the one at 5 am I stopped noticing after a couple of nights).
I had booked myself in for two full weeks in Gili Air, to completely let my shoulders down, relax and enjoy the slow life. My days passed by with laying on the beach, taking walks around the island, and snorkeling. Nothing more, nothing less. And that was exactly what I needed. Many places around the island they offer Half day snorkeling trips for only 100 000 IDR (60 NOK). It takes you around different great spots around the 3 Gili islands, and I saw no more than ten sea turtles. Amazing! I also saw the very poisonous black and white sea snake one other day snorkeling just off the beach. But they say they aren’t aggressive toward humans.
Traveling solo can sometimes be a little bit lonely, but the friendly guys working in Legend Bar up north of the island always made me feel welcome, and treated me as their friend. And I also consider them my friends now.
Sisters or brothers are something people commonly call you in these parts, and it feels so nice. It gave me a feeling of belonging and being included. So I hope all my new brothers and sisters of Gili Air reads this, I’m going to miss you all.
After two weeks I decided to check out the infamous party island Gili Trawangan before heading back to Bali. I was completely overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise arriving here, compared to the quiet of Gili Air. But I had booked myself into a very nice and charming homestay called Three Little Birds owned by Norwegian Yvonne which she runs with her husband Yandi. They really make you feel like part of their family. The second night everyone (the owners, staff, and the guests) shared an amazing Indonesian meal together in the yard, and it was absolutely delicious. Terima Kasih!
And here’s a bunch of photos I took these last two weeks.
This was 5 am in Norway and I’m waiting for my bus ride to the airport. Nervous, excited, a bit sad and a bit happy at the same time, and with a one way ticket to South East Asia in hand.
It took me about 20 hours to get from there to here, Seminyak, Bali. And with absolutely no sleep the entire trip, I quickly crashed in my hotel room.
Since then my days have pretty much consisted of lounging by the pool, writing, reading, and walking around eating delicious food and drinking Bintang. I’ve also tried motorbike taxi for the first time, as I realized that after visiting this part of the world a few times now, I really had no excuse for not using their most normal and cheapest taxi option any more. I was shit scared for the 20 minutes (4 kilometers) it took from Seminyak to Kuta on the back on a scooter, but for less than 1USD i need to just get used to this.
If you ever come to Bali, i recommend you download the app GoJEK. It’s like UBER, where you can order taxi though the app and see the price and distance before ordering. Ordering through that is a lot cheaper than getting a scooter taxi out on the street, even though they are more available (you will be offered transport every 5 meters or so). Sometimes there might be some waiting time for an available GoJEK driver. But I suggest you stay clear of Kuta, though.
Today I’ve booked my boat ticket to Gili Air, where I’ll be staying for a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to small island vibes and no traffic. So I’m headed there this friday. The Gili islands belong to the island group Lombok, and I might check out the main island Lombok after Gili, as it’s supposed to be a lot less touristy than Bali, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes.
It’s been a month since I had my last day at work and moved out of my little studio apartment in Grünerløkka, Oslo.
I have been at my parents house since, working, saving up money and relaxing. Thinking. Mentally preparing. At 5am tomorrow I’m on the bus taking me to the airport where my flight will take me to my first stop, Bali, Indonesia.
Goodbyes have been said to friends and family, since I have no idea how long this trip will last, or where it will take me in the end. Just writing that feels insane, I have no idea how this will turn out. But I need to do this, and the time is now.
I’m scared. But in a good way. And I’m ready.
Here we go!
..Leaving on a jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again..
I have taken the big plunge. And it feels friggin’ good!
Let me first start out with a little bit of a back story.
I have never really been the spontaneous kind. I have always been mostly comfortable with routines, safety. Planning ahead. So when I booked my first long trip back in 2015, it was a big thing for me. Even if it was only for a couple of weeks, it was still a huge step for me to book and go on that solo trip to Thailand.
Triggering the wanderlust 2015 has become a turning point in my life thinking back. It awoke my interest in travel and seeing what’s out there, it gave me the urge to go explore. Having a full time job and a flat I rented in Oslo, my trips were only for a few weeks at a time, as I could only get 5 weeks off to travel per year, and off course I still had to pay my rent while traveling. But I made sure that I at least got to see a new country both far away and a new country here in Europe each year.
However, the more I saw, the more I wanted to see. One or two trips per year made most of my time back home in a state of longing and planning for new trips. Every time I came home, I immediately started to think of where to go next. And it got me thinking, maybe I wasn’t really happy with my situation back home? Or maybe I just needed something to change. A few moths ago I came home from my longest trip so far – six weeks through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. And even though I had some down moments as I have blogged about earlier, most of it was pretty awesome. And most importantly of all – it felt right. Being back in Oslo in my flat and my job however, did not. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to see my friends and family again. But being back home I got depressed and I deeply missed the life “on the road”. I didn’t really feel at home here anymore, and my job wasn’t a place I felt I could build a career in. So it got me thinking more and more – what do I need to do.. for me?
Point of no return After a few months back in the real world, my sore neck and stress knots were building up, and nights with lack of sleep had returned. And in a way it felt like I was getting nowhere, that time was just passing by. I needed change, and there was no better time than now.
I woke up one morning late April, got to work, and sent my resignation by e-mail to my boss. It was quite the spur of the moment kind of thing, and realizing I wouldn’t afford my rent three months from now when my resignation period runs out, I quickly e-mailed my landlord resigning my flat as well. Within 30 minutes I had given up everything stable and safe in my life.
The rest of my day at work I was a bit in shock. But here’s the cool part – it felt so incredibly good! I had made a drastic choice for my self, in order to pursue travel, change – and, well, happiness. Shortly after I told my family and friends about what I had done, and about my plan to get out there and explore the world with no idea of how long I’d be going out for. All I knew is this is what I need to do for me now. And it felt even better when I learned that my friends and family supported my choice wholeheartedly.
So, what comes next? I don’t know to be honest. I have a month and a half left in my job and my flat. I have gotten some freelance gigs content writing and translating which I work with in my free time, and also plan on doing while traveling. After moving out I will take a mini vacation for a few weeks at my parents, before I head out with a one way ticket back to South-East Asia, to try out a new lifestyle for a while, going fully nomad traveling long term (hopefully). My plan for now is to start in Indonesia and take it from there. I want to go with the flow, not planning too much ahead, but move from place to place and country to country by following my gut and tips from others as I go. And hopefully, it will take me on a beautiful adventure!
I’m back in Oslo, the city I call home. Right now it feels a bit strange, rather than home, though.
Soundtrack of the day: Bob Marley – Redemption Song.
After arriving in Saigon I forgot to blog, and got more focused on taking in as much as I could for my last week of traveling before headed home.
I stayed two nights in Saigon, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well while there. So I mostly spent time near my hostel, which was in a side street of Bui Vien, the main party street of Saigon. I did some shopping over at Saigon Square, got my hair cut and my nails done for a total of about six dollars, and I caught som live music at Universal bar. The guys who work there are super friendly by the way.
Then I hopped on a flight back to Thailand to visit Tonsai one last time, at least for now.
After checking in I walked over to Chill Out bar & Bungalows where me and my friend Kim stayed only five weeks earlier. I was immediately recognized and greeted with a “welcome back” from Bee/B, one of the nice guys working at Chill Out. Once again I felt at home in Tonsai.
I then caught the sunset from the beach as I always do. Later it was time to go over to my regular Tonsai hang out, the Sunset Bar. It was really nice to see Toffi, Pon and Wat again, it allways is. These guys are the best.
The day after I went exploring a bit. From Tonsai there are three ways to reach the other parts of Railay. One is a short 10 minute climb through the steep path going from the south end of Tonsai beach, getting you right on the north end of Railay west beach. I’ve done this a few times. Another one is going around the same cliff when it’s low tide, you just walk on the slippery rocks around. But this means you have to wait until low tide just before sunset, so you might not make it back before dark. The last one is the jungle path, which takes about 30 minutes. I decided to try this one out to do something new. 30 sweaty, mosquito filled, creepy crawlies dodging walks in and between jungle and electrical wires minutes later, I got to Railay East, the more laid back part of Railay other than Tonsai.
I walked around a bit and then over to the beautiful but overcrowded Phra Nang beach, the one I kayaked to five weeks ago. Yeah, the one with the penis cave.
Later that day I got the honor of being asked by Toffi to help out behind the bar at Sunset Bar that night and the next. I had so much fun doing that, so Toffi, if you read this, send me a word, I’d love to come back and do it again. See how happy I am 😀
I timed my return to Tonsai perfectly for their yearly clean up day-festival. Two days of cleaning the beach, wolleyball, live music and great food, drinks and fire shows. The entire Tonsai community and guests down at the beach for one big party. Pretty much amazing.
I left the morning after. I hate leaving Tonsai. But I had to go to Bangkok to catch my flight back to Norway, my journey was over for this time.
I’m at a coffee shop in my town, Oslo. It’s freezing outside, and I just want to get on a flight back to Thailand. Time to save up again, and hopefully I’ll be back on that beach for New Years 2017/2018.
Dear Tonsai, I’ll see you when you see me. Why not?