We Are All Really The Same, From Singapore to Bali

By: Nikita Mandhani

When I boarded the aircraft from Singapore to Bali, I had hundreds of things going on in my mind. I was alone. I had hired a driver in Bali who wasn’t taking my calls. I had no clue about the exact location of the hotel I had booked. I was going to step into an entirely new country where I wasn’t acquainted with even a single person. However, I felt convinced that I’d make it work, eventually.

When you travel, you create a lot of stories that remain with you forever. Today, I’ll share one such incident as I write this post. On the second day of my tour, I was supposed to shift from the hotel I had booked (in Seminyak) to a home-stay in Ubud. Ubud and Seminyak are two parts of Bali and it takes about 2 hours of travel time to go from one to the other.

Though I was supposed to check-in during the afternoon, I postponed it since I was busy visiting the attractions with a driver I had hired at the airport at the last minute (because the first one didn’t appear so I just had to trust my instincts and find someone who seemed even a tad reliable). I finally reached the home-stay at about 9:30 pm and I was petrified. Why I say so is because the place looked creepy. The roads were empty and it was quite murky out there. There was no restaurant in sight and the hosts were already half-asleep. I went into my room and sat alone trying to figure out how to go out for dinner.

I wouldn’t say I am too frightened usually but then I was used to the spectacle of busy streets and people around. What I saw that night was nothing close to a ‘comfortable’ vision. And yet I moved out because I was dying of hunger. It was about 10:15 by this time and I tried walking in just any random direction. Google Maps also didn’t seem as cooperative because all decent places to eat appeared too far to walk down to.

After a few minutes, a car stopped somewhere close to where I was standing. A white lady stepped out and obviously I couldn’t guess her nationality (I am really not being racist here but I had to mention this because she was white and I am not). I just looked at her, pointed to my home-stay and asked- ‘Do you stay here?’ She said- ‘No, my house is somewhere in the basement apartment nearby.’ I asked her if there was any good place in the area where I could get my dinner. She told me that it was too dark for me to walk down too far and there was nothing nearby. However, she smiled and said- ‘You can come with me to my house. I have got a few take-away restaurant menus and phone numbers and may be they’d do home delivery as well. But, we better hurry up because it’s already late.’ I accepted and followed her to her charming residence.

She showed me over, pulled out a chair for me in the kitchen and the two of us began our hunt for food. We called approximately four restaurants before we discovered one at last that was okay about delivering food that late in the night. She ordered some spinach and mushroom ravioli for me and gave them the address of my home stay. This lady is an American healer who had changed her base and shifted to Bali about two years ago. She has an adorable little son and a few friends in the town. However, what really moved me was her compassion and jovial disposition because of which I finally got some foodstuff that night.

We talked about my country, my people and my solo expedition. We also conversed about her work, her culture, her past accounts, her boyfriend and her son. She invited me for lunch the next day and also for a spiritual meeting with a Balinese priest. We couldn’t do it because she got busy at work but what really matters is that I found a friend that day. I always look back to those recollections and feel glad for taking the plunge and taking up a journey alone because it helped me make friends. I met people from diverse parts of America, Australia and Russia and they helped me build some striking memories for my travel-diaries.

What I realized after a good part of my travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia was that the world is full of people, who are all like us and yet so different. We follow varied cultures, speak dissimilar languages, have our very own traditions and customs and nonetheless we can form bonds that can last for a long time or may be forever. Isn’t that the charisma of life?

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