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I blogged for four years (2005-2009) on a different platform. That blog is gone now, but I still have all my posts and I recently decided to reread some of my writing from that period of my life. I’m going to be sharing some of the classics, particularly trip reports.
This report is from one of my many Bali trips throughout my 30s. Re-reading the report from this trip makes me cringe a bit. Why? Because I am so clearly at a different place in my life – this report is full of heartbroken angst and accompanying navel gazing. During the period of this trip report, I was in a protracted break up with a guy I had been seeing and I was having trouble making a clean break, even from half a world away he continued to email and call me, and I was clearly waffling when I started the trip. I hardly recognize that girl now… but yet those trips are some of the formative parts of who I am now and why I travel the way I do!
The ticket I used for this trip was part of a OneWorld round-the-world award ticket. I used to be fond of using this as a multi-trip redemption strategy and I miss them now that the are gone. Back in the days of this ticket, the rules were different so they could stretch even further. Back then I was traveling both for consulting work as well as to do product marketing for our manufacturing start-up (which was around from 2006-2009) – so I was frequently working weekends intermingled with busy weeks for long stretches of time – and my business travel and personal travels were often blurred together.
I also find it interesting that I do not comment much about the flights and the hotels… but then again, I always have been more about the experience. It took time for me to realize that others were interested in those details!
Here it is in the original format – the line breaks mark the original posts.
“Do not carry the past with you into the future”
Typing this from the Admirals Club at terminal D… my Tokyo bound flight will board in about 5 minutes but I’m not in a huge hurry to rush on board since I’ve got 20+ actual butt-in-seat hours on an airplane ahead of me in one long stretch. By the time my head hits the pillow after midnight on Sunday night, Bali time, I will have hopefully plowed through several books and a couple of premium bottles of champagne. That’s the way it rolls when you cash in your miles for an insane first class ticket. This same ticket will also carry me on two work trips in the next month so for six weeks, my life will revolve around the webbing of this very ticket.
I’m drinking a double shot bloody mary to calm my nerves.. nothing like Grey Goose at 9 am to say “its all changing again”.
I just had a surreal experience at Brookstone. I popped in there to get a travel converter since I couldn’t find mine this morning when I was ripping the house apart. An overly friendly salesperson attached himself to me and I couldn’t seem to do anything to shake him. “No, you don’t want this model, this one is less expensive and better.” Fine. I wasn’t in the mood to be super friendly so I forced a smile and finished my shopping.
He rang me out and as he was, he lowered his voice and said:
A bit of personal advice for you for your journey… do not carry the past with you into the future.
I blinked, a bit dumbfounded, and he continued.
Leave it here with you… you do not need it on your journey to weigh you down. You are not a bad person. We know that bad things happen to good people and it is not the way of the spirit because good things also happen to bad people. So go forward and do good and be happy. Remember that your past does not dictate your future.
I was shaking as I finished paying and walked out of the store. Positively shaking and my eyes were filled with tears. In fact, I’m still a bit teary eyed. How was it that this man knew and felt the presence to speak exactly the words I needed to hear today? Am I wearing my pain and hurt that vividly like a cloak around me? Do my eyes and voice betray the brave face I’ve been trying to put on.
Its no secret that I run to Bali every time things in my life feel like they are breaking apart… and this is no exception. And some who know me know I’ve had some of my most profound spiritual experiences in airports – for some reason, God seems to know where to find me. I’m ready to heal though… and ready to leave the past here.
Biding my time in the JAL Sakura/First lounge
I’ve made it to Tokyo and I’m biding my time in the JAL Sakura/First lounge during the three hour layover I’ve got.
No more “profound” spiritual experiences… good because I’m still digesting the first one.
Just enjoying the peace – and sending the last of my tardy work emails out. I’m exhausted… I slept less than two hours on the flight (pretty poor for me on a flight that’s well over 12 hours). Instead of sleeping, I nibbled during all three meal services (had the Japanese options on meal 1 and 3 and nibbled on the Uno pizza on the snack/2) – this may be the best flight I’ve ever had on AA as far as catering goes. The food was excellent and I ate everything put in front of me (highly unusual with the Japanese meals). I was surprised that they have taken the sushi off the Japanese lunch but the flight attendants gave me the western appetizer to start (smoked salmon rolls and marinated shrimp) and it was better than normal. I *might* have gone through two bottles of Piper on my own… but I’m pleading the fifth. Hey, it was over 12 hours. I also plowed through four movies and finished one book (Chelsea Handler’s “My Horizontal Life” – funny, but a bit depressing all the same).
My layover here is three hours and then I’ve got almost 8 hours to Denpasar. Then a hopefully quick run through immigration (the lines at that late hour are short, or so I’ve been told) and then about an hour in the taxi out to Nirwana/Tanah Lot. I’m going to be dead by then.
Thankfully they have free massage here in the lounge. I’m booked for immediately prior to boarding. I’m going to nibble on what I can here and then hopefully crash on the plane. I know I shouldn’t because I need to sleep on arrival but I’m not sure I can continue any further without sleep as I’m getting very hazy.
My heart is healing
I’m alive and well and posting from a bale (one of those big covered and curtained king size beds on platforms) by the pool overlooking the ocean.
I snapped a cameraphone photo but since I’m blogging from the BlackBerry (can’t be bothered to go to the business center) I can’t figure out how to attach it.
I’m more blissed out than usual, perhaps because I’m more relaxed. I can’t be bothered to make plans (even a spa booking seems too cumbersome) or reservations so I’m just encamped with my books (I’m on my sixth since I arrived at the hotel plus two more while flying) and my iPod. When I grow tired, I knit.
This visit is a bit different than my last ones. No desire to while away my evenings drinking slings and puffing on Gudangs. I just want to think and to “be”. No plans, no conversation, just stillness.
I have my Berry for company (and that tether to the outside world I can tune out on a whim) and the internet access it provides – and that’s enough.
This no plans thing is a test of the wills for me – a Zen struggle if you will – but its an exercise I need to try. And as such, I can’t blog the mundane day-to-day of my trip as it seems like overkill and I don’t feel like retracing my steps as they lose some of their simple pleasure in the retelling.
My heart is healing though. Slowly.
I’ll figure it out somehow
So here I am, about an hour from checking OUT of the Le Meridien (I’ll be heading south to Nusa Dua for two more nights) and I’ve just NOW found the time to make it to the business center. I’ll confess right now that the only reason I’m here is that my Starwood status gives me an hour of free access and it seems a shame to waste it so I’m catching up.
Some would say I’m a sad sight, checking email and blogging on vacation. Others who have known me a while are probably amazed I’ve had this much self-restraint! Admittedly, this has been the quietest vacation I’ve had in years because I’ve forced this state of nothingness on myself. The last time I stayed here, I had to fill up my days – yoga, spa treatments, trips into town, golf games. This time I’ve been content to do almost none of that. Well, I was going to go to yoga one day but <name redacted> called (something I was NOT expecting) and that distracted me although the conversation seemed to have that same yoga effect. And I have ventured out twice – Seminyak for dinner (kind of one of those “why did I bother” kinds of trips) and Ubud yesterday to take an afternoon cooking class at Mozaic (a “why didn’t I stay in Ubud and do MORE of this” kind of trip). And now I’m going to slowly work on reinserting myself into human interaction by getting down to the busier south. And then it will be on to Hong Kong for a day before I head home via San Francisco.
I feel like the quiet has been good for me. I’ve stayed in touch with the office and friends via BlackBerry (completely disconnecting, while peaceful to some is a freaking NIGHTMARE for me… I don’t sleep, I obsess about things, I think about cutting my vacation short… so they’ve learned to put up with that quirk in my personality). I’ve had a lot of time to think about things that have been bothering me, namely relationships and such. The problem, as I expressed it to a friend in a late night (for me anyhow) chain of emails is that I know how I think the story ends but I’m frustrated because the pages in between are ripped out of the book. She responded (quite sagely) that they aren’t “ripped out” but rather “haven’t been written yet”. And she’s right. And I also know that the problems that I’ve had with <name redacted> on-again-off-again for the last several months aren’t exclusive to him – I think I’d be having them with anyone right now which might tell you where some of the problems are. (Don’t get me wrong… we can bicker like no ones business but the problem is that we are both stubborn and won’t/can’t see the other one’s perspective. I know that some folks who only read my blog have this unnatural aversion to the whole thing… but that’s only because I share what I want here and its usually my one-sided ranting.)
I don’t know where my life is heading when I get back to the States. What I do know is that I’ve changed SO much in the last year or so and that’s a good thing. And I think I’m giong to continue to grow and change quite a bit in the next year or so with the challenges it brings (and believe me, there are several on the horizon already). I think the man in the airport last week was right – I cannot carry the past with me into the future (which is one of my major relationship stumbling blocks) and so I’m going to have to just pray that I find my way somehow. I’m keeping my options open… I’ve got a couple of guys who are interested in going out when I finally get back from this long run of traveling – so if <name redacted> can’t figure it all out, I’m not going to have all my eggs in one basket. I’m still not sure if love can conquer all… I think it needs a bit more elbow grease (aka a lot of communication, to start with).
In the meantime, I’m going to focus on the short-term and not worry so much about the end of the story. It kind of reminds me of that song “Unwritten” which seems happy and upbeat to focus on. And there are too many other exciting fun lighthearted things on the horizon (for example, look for a fun giveaway coming from me here on the blog in the next day or so). The rest? Well, I’ll figure out somehow – and have fun while I’m doing it.
Pleased to work with duck
Two posts in one day… wanted to share a few photos from my cooking class at Mozaic (the highlight of this trip thus far).
Here I am learning how to score a duck breast to properly render duck fat. I was so pleased to work with duck (That’s the chef in the corner… didn’t hurt to take lessons from a cute guy for several hours!)
And here are the four courses we cooked.
I was so happy – we each made our own portions (doing everything from scoring/cooking our own duck to slicing our own vegetables, rolling our own pastry crust and cooking our own pastry cream, and seasoning everything to our own taste – we worked on how to “tell” the right mix of sweet/salty/sour without measuring). We even worked on how to “plate” food and garnish it correctly.
I really want to cook some of this stuff when I get home… might be time for a dinner party soon! I was supposed to stay for dinner afterwards… but that seemed crazy. We dined at 4 pm and there was NO WAY I was going to be hungry again at 7:30. (I even stuck around for a cocktail until after 6 just to see if my stomach would budge… it wouldn’t.) I have reservations to go back tomorrow night instead – its a long trek to Ubud (I wish I was staying there but I think its too late to change my plans).
Despite the sunscreen, I think I’m getting a wee bit of glow….
Maybe that will be my new online dating head shot. Yes, I did say online dating.
One thing I’ve come to a conclusion about is that I want to DATE. I want to be asked out and I want to DO THINGS. I have allowed myself to get in a rut and I don’t like it. When I still lived in Dallas, I was always going places and meeting up with friends, going on dates, getting dressed up. In Fort Worth, I’ve become a homebody. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I miss getting dressed to go somewhere on a Saturday night. I miss the anticipation, the good night kiss. I miss leaving the porch light on for the dark.
So while I’ve done lots of contemplating this week and haven’t come to any big dire decisions in my life (I think I was on the brink of one earlier in the week but didn’t quite get there), one decision I *have* made… any guy who wants the pleasure of my company is going to need to pick up the phone and make plans with me. Ask me out. Not this “want to drop by my place after work” crap I’ve put up with from *you-know-who*. I’m tired of it and I deserve better. I mean, I’m all for “effortless” in relationships but the thing with “effortless” is that things should just SEEM easy – there shouldn’t be a complete absence of any effort whatsoever. That’s just wrong.
I’m enjoying the Grand Hyatt – its a definite change of pace from the Le Meridien. Here I think I’m definitely in the minority as a solo traveler as I’m surrounded by honeymooners and families on holiday. At the LM, the staff knows me and thinks nothing of me traveling alone. Here I’m almost getting a look of pity which I don’t appreciate. (Those who know me well know that for long trips, I prefer traveling alone – I don’t manage well for more than about four days with others.)
Tomorrow I’m off to Hong Kong which is good – I think I’m beached out – and I’m tired of the quiet. There is such a thing as too much serenity and I think I’ve hit my limit. If I could get the flight to Hong Kong today, I would. Actually, now that I’m contemplating that its a thought except I don’t have a stopover calculated for Hong Kong so they would have to refare my ticket. Oh well, I’ll just use that money and go to the spa all afternoon instead!
A sensory Sunday….
Greetings from Hong Kong. Wireless internet access again… bliss! Nothing like lying in bed under a fluffy duvet and typing on the laptop. This is how I like things and I’m a happy girl right now.
At the moment, Victoria Harbour from the floor to ceiling windows in my room at the Sheraton. Nothing quite like lying in bed and watching the Star Ferry crawling back and forth across the harbour. Alas, it’s rainy and a bit foggy out so I can’t see all the way across to The Peak – in fact, I can barely make out the shoreline. Still, I have always loved waking up in Hong Kong, one of my favorite cities in the world. Something about rolling over and seeing the harbour out of the window just fills my heart with happiness – one of those “I’m the King of the World” kind of moments!
Quiet. The last nine days have been blissfully quiet. I’ve done almost NO talking – I can count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had, almost all of the out of polite necessity. I realize that I talk so much sometimes that its good to occasionally shut up for an extended period of time – its quieting for the soul and helps me rest my mind and think about things. Of course, I’ve had my share of communication – that phone call mid-week and of course my business partner and I have had a running dialogue of emails and instant messages all week long that has kept me “connected” and given me a sane voice to bounce some things in my head off.
Next to nothing. I think I’ve finally done it. I killed my appetite. After years of eating everything in sight (not a good habit, particularly when you realize how much weight I’ve gained) I think I’ve suddenly gotten over it. My not being hungry started right after cooking class at Mozaic on Thursday (seriously, one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time and I cooked most of it myself!) and is still here on Monday morning. Don’t get me wrong. I’m eating, but somehow FOOD isn’t the same to me anymore. I still love food. I still think about food. I still dream about food. BUT I want only good food – and only enough to satiate the hunger.
I ended up not keeping my reservation for Mozaic on Saturday night – or for Dava (Ritz-Carlton) on Friday night. I couldn’t handle the thought of either. In fact, I didn’t even eat dinner on Saturday – and on Friday I nibbled on some sushi at the Hyatt – I’ve been down to about two meals a day on this trip (really more like three or four nibbles throughout the day) and it feels about right to me.
I had a dream about this last night – a rather vivid one. In it, I was a professional chef (or at least I assume that was since I was in a professional kitchen making dish after dish) and someone was yelling at me because I wasn’t eating my own cooking. I don’t remember what I said, but the feeling I had was that I just wanted a “taste” – not too much – and I wanted to taste as much as possible but realized I couldn’t. And if I couldn’t, then I just wanted a little bit of something good and for that to be enough. And that if I had too much of anything, it would spoil me for anything else that came along. I woke up before I had too much more time to explore it but its an interesting concept.
I think it’s entirely possible that my life for too long because entirely about excess – in a very obsessive/compulsive kind of way – its not enough to have a great handbag, I had to have 20 of them. I couldn’t just go to a good restaurant and enjoy a nice entree – I had to taste everything on the menu. And I’ve seen it in other behaviors I’ve not been proud of – the hoarding of scrapbook supplies, the wine collecting, the constant shopping, the compulsive frequent flying. I’ve gotten those under control – maybe food is the last frontier for me?
I know this… I love food – but not any food, GOOD food. And I know I have to eat to exist. But maybe there is a balance out there where I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of good things but where I also don’t feel like its over the top.
City air. Don’t laugh.
When I got off the plane in Bali, I immediately could smell that “Bali smell” – I don’t know exactly how to describe it but its a sensory memory and I could smell it anywhere in the world and immediately be mentally back there. It’s a mix of flowering plants, incense, sandalwood, and thick humidity and it hits you like a ton of bricks the second you step off the airplane. I love that smell when I arrive and yet I always know that my beach days are over when it ceases to be pleasant and starts to give me a headache. As always, I grew tired of being there (I always do) and wanted to get back to the city. That’s why I always like coming home via Hong Kong – it’s a forced overnight layover and I get the chance to smell city air before I fly home. It neutralizes the Bali smell in my head and lets me go back home with pleasant vacation memories.
Fluffy white bed sheets. I had the best night of sleep for my entire trip last night at the Sheraton in Hong Kong. I never sleep well in Bali – I sleep a lot, but never that well. The beds are always too firm and the pillows too thin/feathery. I tend to get a cramping pain on one side of my body (I’m a side sleeper) that no amount of massage can fix. Last night I put on my eye mask (because I had to sleep with the window shades open for that harbour view!) and I crashed for a solid eight hours. Bliss.
I’m home again, temporarily.
2:39 am and my body doesn’t know what time it is supposed to be. *sigh*
The flight from Hong Kong to the US was fabulous, as Cathay Pacific first class always is. Only four of us in a cabin that seats twelve. The flight crew kept my Krug topped off until I said mercy… and made sure I had plenty of caviar to make me happy. If only all my flights could be like this – a cozy Shanghai Tang sleeper suit and a fluffy duvet and nice angels to watch over me while I sleep. I have to say its still nice, even if the Cathay experience isn’t all it used to be (ergo the decibel level in The Wing – their lounge – prior to departure). We made it to San Francisco at the appointed time and it was onward to American I went… a bit of a jar after Asian carriers. (Gotta love flying on award tickets…. it makes me want to live this way for real!)
Got home to DFW and fetched bags and mom picked me up around 10 pm. She was sweet enough to go by my house and turn the air conditioning back down this morning so instead of a hellishly hot house, I came in to blissful cold which helped me settle down to sleep a bit after 11:30. Sadly that settle didn’t last long – I got a very late night text at almost 1 am (silly me for not turning my phone to silent) and now here I am, still awake and trying to figure out what day it is and where exactly I am.
No bother… I won’t be here long enough to care. Its off to the office this morning to clean up my in-box and then off to the Carolinas this afternoon so I can speak at a conference tomorrow am. Then back to Dallas to get some things done here and then Thursday its Dallas-Los Angeles-London (yes, there is a direct flight from Dallas, no I can’t take it, don’t ask…) and then London-Amsterdam on Friday. Friday night the lovely gals from ScrapbookMate will pick me up and I teach on Saturday and Sunday at Scrap-a-Ganza and then its back to Amsterdam on Sunday night and a visit to the warehouse for their retailer event on Monday, back to London Monday evening, and London-New York-Dallas on Tuesday. Then Thursday its off to Philadelphia for another conference.
I *think* I get a full ten days in my own bed (unless I fly to San Francisco and/or Portland which is likely) before I’m off to Singapore (Dallas-New York-London-Singapore)… yes, June is the month of madness.
Now if only my body would cooperate. I’m wondering where the closest pick up for scrambled eggs and buttered wheat toast might be at this hour… that would get me back to sleep for sure.