DB: During Bali

Living 

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

I remember as I was announcing I was leaving my job and Seattle to head to Bali, there were a couple people who said the same thing: “You know, living somewhere is very different than vacationing there.” It was usually a cynical tone and it always planted a teeny seed in my mind that maybe I’m making a mistake. That maybe I’m living in some fairytale in my mind and it’s not a good idea to move to Paradise because it’s not actually paradise.

The first few weeks I was in Bali, I was vacationing. Eating delicious food, checking out different beaches, and swimming in all the fancy pools throughout town. I was drinking tropical pineapple cocktails, paying $5 for a massage, and getting a dark tan. But after a while, I must be honest and say that there were times I actually got bored. Since I only knew a couple of people in Bali, my WiFi was nonexistent in my room, it was too hot to go on long walks, and I didn’t want to spend money, I was very limited on what I could do. I can only read and write so much… I became a master at Bejeweled, took many showers and naps to kill time, and had that damn voice, “you know….living is very different than vacationing” running through my mind constantly. Those cynics were right. During vacation, you jam-pack your time with excursions and relaxation because you only have a certain number of days. But living? If I didn’t visit the beach one day, I could just do it the next day. 12-15 hours every day to myself. Thus, boredom struck.

But then…

Friendships started growing, scooter rides became longer, and a sense of community was forming. Then to really create a sense of comraderie with Amed, Agung started talkin’. No more boredom.

These days, it’s hard to even make time to write… 

What has been occupying the majority of my time these days has been helping out in the community. I’ve shared many experiences about kids yoga with my favorite kiddos (loooooooove them!). But there are a couple other organizations I’ve been helping with – one is called Trash Hero Amed. Each week we select a different beach to pick up all of the trash. Unfortunately, the trash situation here is abysmal. There is garbage EVERYWHERE. So it feels really good to clean up a dirty beach with and for the locals. 



Kids Yoga and Trash Hero – happy to contribute my energy to make Amed a little bit better.

But there’s one more…

Amed Bali First Aid P3K. It has been one of the most eye-opening and impactful experiences of my life. With Agung’s ‘imminent eruption,’ thousands of people have been displaced from their homes. Hundreds of families have been evacuated from their villages and moved further away to avoid destruction from the big eruption. Can you imagine having the government tell you to leave your home, sleep on concrete, eat dirty rice, and wait for Agung to erupt?

The government doesn’t really do much to aid the evacuees, so a team has formed to gather supplies, food, water filters, and anything else a village needs to be safer and more comfortable. There are dozens of refugee camps and this group is involved with each of them, bringing them supplies and smiles. In the morning, a small group gathers at a pop-up food bank, sorts food/supplies, and organizes which camps we will be visiting each day. In the afternoon, we deliver. 



I’m getting emotional even writing about it all. I’ve visited so many camps and it tugs at my heart every time we pull up to a new one. These families are literally sleeping on the ground, with no coverage from rain, and many without toilets. What amazes me is how happy everyone is, regardless of their living situations. They’re just happy to be alive and together. We’ve all sort of established our roles when we make deliveries. A couple teach the leaders of the camp how to use the water filter, a couple get data about the camp (how many elderly, children, babies, etc.), a couple check out the surroundings and the toilet situation…and I get to play with the kids! Yay! It’s been so fun teaching the kids new games, dances, or how to cross their eyes. It’s the little things…

This is what many of the refugee camps look like. 


Thanks to some generous donors, the organization has received food and supply donations each day that are making a huge difference. This is about $200 worth of donations. Rice, cooking oil, eggs, coffee and sugar.


This food feeds an entire camp of 120 people. Less than $100.


At one camp, some of the kids showed us the bugs that they catch and eat for meals. 


Hoping to bring better sleep, better meals, and uplift spirits with each visit.


It’s amazing how far a dollar can go. Even $10 can buy a large bag of rice that feeds multiple families. I have been blown away with seeing the donations come in, the purchase of the food and supplies, and then the final delivery. No middle man, all volunteers, all for the refugees.

If you want to make a small donation and check out more information, you can visit this site: https://www.gofundme.com/amed-bali-first-aid-p3k


It’s incredible to see how my adventure in Bali has morphed into something bigger than an “extended vacation.” It used to bother me at first, but now I’m grateful that living in Bali is very, very different than vacationing here… 

Paradise is what you make of it.

Energy

Monday, December 11th, 2017

It’s been a couple of weeks and still no BIG eruption. Agung is such a tease… At the end of November, after we experienced the few cold eruptions, it was a swirl of different energies. Many people posted up at the restaurants on the top of the hill for hours to watch Agung and hope it would erupt while they were watching. There were photographers everywhere. Everyone was convinced it was going to erupt soon. During this period, hotels were covering their pools with tarps, people were stocking up on water and food, and tourists were cancelling their bookings. My friends and I even had a journalist from England ask us a few questions. I almost wish I hadn’t talked with her because after she asked us, “Are you afraid?”, I immediately said, “Nope!” She then went into detail about how I should be afraid and how destructive the eruption was in 1963 and she’s surprised I’m staying. Thank you, Journalist! I’m sure her article only included this quote from me: “Well now I’m scared!”

During the beginning of the Agung Event, I was in a very different place mentally. The earthquakes really threw me for a loop and I was panicking because I thought my “Big Adventure” to Bali was only going to last one short month. I was completely torn over whether or not I should give up and go back to America. I stayed. And this time with the cold eruptions? I’m still staying. I think the earthquakes got all of our fear out of the way. It prepared us, mentally and physically. Everyone is….well, ready

After a week of many false alarms, Amed became a ghost town again. The photographers and journalists gave up on Agung. No more tourists ventured North. Now it feels as if I’m one of the only bulé (white person) in town. 

While Agung has been the focal point of my time, there have been some more extraordinary moments that I would love to share.

I’ve spent a few more days with my favorite kiddos and on this day, my friend Tiffany gave me beads to make my first Mala bead necklace. I’ve always wanted a mala necklace, but it never felt like it was right for me to just buy one from a store. I’ve read that it’s best if they’re gifted to you from a guru. So grateful I was blessed with an epic guru here – thank you, Tiffany, for all of the incredible beads!

Malas are all about energies and they’re used during meditation to bring you peace. There are almost always 108 beads in each necklace and so I organized my beads in a way that every number is significant. Then the Lean kids were curious, watching me place each bead on my string and tying tiny knots. After watching for a few minutes, they decided to help. The rest of my necklace was completed by them. Talk about incredible energy in this necklace!

I absolutely adore this necklace and it will always remind me of my inner child. These kids have taught me so much while I’ve been in Bali, and I love that I can carry their pure energy wherever I go.

Over the next week, we did a couple more crafts and I particularly loved our Wishing Wave. These kids…I tell ya, they are something else

My friend Monika listened to her intuition and felt she needed to leave Bali, so we spent her last dinner at our second home: Blue Earth. Monika has been one of my Guardian Angels here and I love that Amed brought us together. I can’t wait to see where we will be in our lives the next time we are united.

The night was clear during the Super Moon and it was one of the most beautiful full moons I’ve ever seen. Something I love about the moon is that photos don’t do it justice. In order to get the powerful effect of it, you have to see it with your own eyes.

 

If you want to know what Bali is like in one photo, this is it. Chickens, motorbikes, and palm trees. All it needs is a temple.

One afternoon I was hanging out with Tiffany and we decided to go up to the yoga shala at Blue Earth to watch the sunset. We had a feeling it was going to be an epic one. Sure enough, it was. As we were sitting on the ledge, a photographer walked into the shala to take photos…we were about to get up so he could have a clear shot of Agung, but then he asked if he could take a photo of us. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite photos. Sharing this sunset with such a wonderful spirit in one of our favorite places on Earth.

Agung has been stirring a lot of emotions within all of us. Conversations with the locals have been very interesting and everyone is pretty exhausted from the anticipation of the “Main Event.” It’s weird to say, “CAN YOU JUST ERUPT ALREADY?!” It’s affecting tourism and the economy in a big way. The locals here are begging for tourists – it’s heartbreaking. It’s also been tough seeing the news on Agung and how sensationalized it’s become. “Holiday Nightmare!” “Thousands Stranded with No Hope!” “Disaster in the Making!” It was really weird for a lot of us because while many people all over the world thought we were all fleeing and running from lava, it was actually very normal. It wasn’t like what I would have thought (anyone see Dante’s Peak?). People were still diving, snorkeling, and sunbathing – meanwhile plumes of smoke were rising from Agung. Don’t get me wrong, if/when it does erupt, it will be bad…but everyone is tired every day thinking, “Is this the day??”

It could happen any day – it could be months – it could be years. That’s Mother Nature for ya…

Today is another normal, sunny, beautiful day. I’m sitting at my current favorite spot: The Meeting Point…scooters are zipping by and everyone is going about their business like any other day. 

Might be another good day for a long scooter ride… 🙂

The Great Gunung Agung

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Here we go again…

Agung alert level is back at the highest level: 4. For a while, we were at level 2 and things were back to normal. But now, we’re back into that dazed, what-the-hell-is-going-to-happen phase. Agung has erupted twice, but they’ve been called “cold eruptions.” No magma…yet. The plumes of smoke are absolutely beautiful to look at. It’s quite a spectacle to be seen.


I don’t feel in danger, but my heart is aching for the refugees who have to leave their homes yet again and simply…wait. Wait until “The Main Event.” The word is that there will be a larger eruption with lava, a big BOOM, and an earthquake. Could happen at any point – some are even saying tonight. But who really knows?!

The energies around Amed are totally split. There are the people (mostly locals) who are calm and aren’t worried. Then there are the others who are panicking and want to evacuate immediately. 

The people who are afraid? They’re constantly checking their phones for photos, videos, news updates, and reports. It’s good to be informed, but I started going down a bad spiral when I started looking at the news and reading all the details about what could happen and what happened in the last eruption. It scared the shit out of me. I went back into that mental state I had a couple months ago where I was too afraid to even take my shoes off in bed.

Thankfully, I’ve got some great people in my life that nudged me back into positivity. 

“Worry will only damage and burden your mind.”


Detour in my story:

Since I’ve been in Bali, I’ve had a couple dreams with snakes in them. It’s all subjective, but I’ve read that dreaming of snakes could mean that healing and transformation are taking place (sounds about right). I’ve been facing so many fears by moving to Bali. Stepping out of my comfort zone, moving to a place where I know only a couple people, don’t know how to drive a scooter, the list goes on. But I faced my fears and have been embracing every experience 100%. So when I came across a GIANT snake at Tirta Gangga the other day, I screamed and ran away from it. And then I my intuition said, “Don’t be afraid. Face your fear and step closer.”

Snakes have appeared in my dreams, and now here was one right in front of me. I knew I had to ‘pet’ it. So I looked in it’s eyes and pet it. This may sound weird, but the snake was actually really sweet. I tried to imagine what the snake was thinking. What if a snake was like a dog? What if it really likes being pet? But we are told that snakes are scary so everyone runs away from them… I wish I could be like Harry Potter and speak with it. How I overcame my fear was by pretending I could hear him and he had a Goofy-like voice: “Don’t be afraid of me – I promise I won’t bite you. I look a lot scarier than I am! I just like to cuddle!” I know, sort of ridiculous, but it worked. So I pet him and his skin was so incredibly soft and smooth. I was extremely surprised with my experience – and so happy I got over my fear. Now, I’m not about to go buy a snake as a pet, but I’m going to remember that snakes aren’t going to eat me whole like I previously thought. Snakes have feelings too…

Can you believe it? I PET THIS SNAKE AND I LIKED IT!


Back on track:

We are told through millions of messages what to think; through people, social media, news, etc. What is scary – who is good and who is bad – what is going to happen – how to feel. But ultimately, the truth is your own experience. 

Today has been very normal. I woke up to sunshine and it was a beautiful day. Yesterday, I sat on the beach and watched the Apple Cup with my parents on FaceTime (Go Dawgs!!). Sure, there happened to be an erupting volcano in the background, but it felt 100% okay. It was actually very fun! 

So going forward, the eruption(s) could become a lot more serious, but I’m choosing to be happy, calm, and not let worry take over. Who knows what will happen? Right now, I’m sitting in the yoga shala with a couple of my friends after enjoying a nice meal. It sounds weird to say this about an erupting volcano, but it’s very magnificent. We cannot control what Mother Nature does and no matter what happens, we will adapt to the situation. There is no other choice. 

A common theme throughout my blog is “Go with the flow.” So that’s what I’m going to do regarding Gunung Agung. The lava is simply going to go where it’s going to go…we must as well. 

I am safe and I will try to keep everyone posted if/when anything happens! 

Besides, if the cat is relaxing, so should I!

Thankful

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Yesterday was technically Thanksgiving, but it feels more like it now because I know all my friends and family are gathered together celebrating back in the States. I had a very happy day with my friends here in Bali, celebrating one of my favorite holidays – complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, veggies…and chicken! There are literally zero turkeys in Bali, so chicken it is! It was a wonderful day, but it feels even warmer now, the day after Thanksgiving. Knowing everyone in the States is thinking of what they’re Thankful for, and likely dozing off because of the tryptophan in the turkey, makes me so happy. There’s a collective, grateful energy swirling around and I can feel it!

During this time of the year, I love reflecting on my past year and realizing how fortunate I am. So many things to be thankful for. I could make a very, very, very long list of what I’m thankful for…but there’s one thing that jumps out of my mind when I’m asked, “What are you thankful for?”

Several months ago, the idea of heading to Bali started brewing in my mind. It quickly became a reality after taking the actions to leave my apartment, my job, and my city. I had so many people asking me the same sorts of questions. “What are you going to do?” “Are you independently wealthy?” “How long are you going to be there?”

A question I was asked several times was, “What does your family think?” That question was usually followed by, “My parents would flip if I wanted to do something like that!”

I loved answering that question. The truth is, my family has supported me 100% the entire way. There was never doubt; not a single person said, “Are you sure about this?!” I was all in for this crazy leap, and they were right behind me, encouraging me every step of the way.

Because of my family’s love and support, I’ve been able to appreciate and embrace my experiences in this magical world without any guilt or stress. But more importantly, if I didn’t have full support, I wouldn’t even be here in the first place. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I’m so very thankful for each and every one of you. 

Kids

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

I’ve been fortunate enough to have the luxury to relax on the most beautiful beaches of Bali. Eat the most delicious meals that you can only find on this island. Dive in sites that people travel the world to visit. Attend ceremonies that would bring anyone closer to God. Stay in places that are so incredible they don’t even seem real. I am so damn grateful. But what’s better than all of that combined? The kids.

I was asked to lead yoga for kids and for a day, it became my life’s mission. The week prior, the yoga teachers were donated 100,000 rupiah (about $7) for new art supplies. One thing you’ll learn about Bali, and especially Amed, is that resources are very limited. Arts and crafts are impossible to find in this little town, aside from a little box of colored pencils. So on my way back from my trip to Immigrations, I stopped in Amlapura at what seemed to be the ONLY arts supply store in Bali. I was able to get a good amount of supplies, thankfully, and I was ready to make my “lesson plan.”

I made a list of easy yoga poses with their English names, as well as Indonesian names. Great way for me to learn Indonesian and for the kids to learn English. I made what I thought was a decent class and I. Was. STOKED. 

The class is free for all kids and occurs every Wednesday at 4pm at Life in Amed, a hotel in Lean Village. I arrived at 2pm to prep and eat all the crafts ready. I walked to the Garden House and could see all the kiddos playing on the beach and once they saw me, they started shouting, “Yogaaaaa! Yogaaaa!” Welp, there went my early, calm prep time! They stood at the entrance hoping I would wave them in. I wasn’t about to deny help from kids! So I waved them in and they came RUNNING! This was going to turn into a 3-hour adventure! And I was so okay with it.


I’m (unfortunately) not around kids very frequently, so I was curious how I was going to handle a bunch of kids on my own who don’t speak English. I’ve never taught yoga, and I’ve never watched a gaggle of kids as the responsible adult. But I realized after two minutes that kids are self-sufficient. I didn’t have to keep an eye on all of them (except for the kid who kept saying “Banana!” and drew a you-know-what instead of a heart), I didn’t need to give them instructions, and I didn’t need to stress at all. The kids were going to do what they were going to do. Play.

We did cartwheels and handstands, we danced, and we had so much fun. At one point, a little girl found a bag with 4 little rhinestones. Once word got around that I was holding 4 rhinestones, EVERY KID wanted one. 

“Shit. Who is going to get them? Which kids do I select? What do I do?!”

All the kids ran up with their arms outstretched, all saying, “Hello!” “Hello!” “Hello!” All hoping they’d be the lucky recipients. I would reply, “Sabar!” This is a handy word to know in Bali – it means patience. Then the little voice in my head said, “Turn this into a game. Throw them!” So I chucked rhinestones across the yard and they all went dashing, scavenging for them. I immediately thought of Easter, hunting for eggs. Fair is fair. Thank you, little voice!!

The yoga class lasted about 10 minutes because, well, they’re kids. So we continued with our crafts and it was not only one of the highlights of my time in Bali – it was one of the highlights of my life.

These kids have changed my life.




Sweet Dreams

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

My favorite date: 11/11. Make a wish!

I want to share a dream that I had recently. I love dreams that have life lessons woven into the bizarre sequences of events. This dream has really stuck with me…

It was a setting sort of like in Miracle on 34th Street – I was in my life, but instead of living it, I was witnessing it. I was back in time with a group of my friends, but everything was just a tiiiiny bit different. The ‘me’ that I was watching hugged one of my friends, but she was a foot shorter than I knew her as. I asked her how she got so much shorter. “I’ve always been this short!” I realized then that I was witnessing my life as if little things had not happened in the past. Like the butterfly effect, something happened differently in the past that caused her to be shorter. I know, strange…but it is a dream I’m talking about here…

Then I saw another friend of mine and she was as happy as could be. She had not yet met a man that would end up giving her the biggest heartbreak of her life. Since I knew how her life would play out, I wondered if I should tell her that when she meets a certain man, to not date him. That she would fall so in love with him, only to be dumped out of the blue by him because he was in love with someone else. I could have told her to avoid him when he enters her life to save her from the heartbreak.

But in the dream, the wise ‘narrator’ told me to not interfere. She needs to go through that future, soul-crushing heartbreak in order to get to a better place. In real life, this friend of mine is now thriving in her career and happy with a different man that is far better for her. I don’t believe she would have reached her place of happiness if she didn’t go through the rollercoaster of love and heartbreak.

I woke up and thought about this dream for a while. Sometimes I think about how things could have been had I not met certain people or done certain things. There are endless amounts of paths I could have taken and I often feel like I took a wrong turn on my life path because things didn’t turn out a certain way.

My dream was a reminder that everything happens for a reason. Everything that happens is a stepping stone to a new layer of life. The good and the bad.

There are so many different paths to take, but ultimately, there is only one.

Do not force. Do not manipulate. Do not regret.

Simply, go with the flow.

From the Past to the Future

Monday, October 16th, 2017

I never thought I’d feel like I was so far in the past and then feel so propelled into the future within only a matter of days…

The Past

The other day I went on another excursion to my favorite temple, Pura Lempuyang. This is the temple I visited during Galungan back in April. It was when I was at this temple during vacation that I knew I would someday come back to Bali in the future. It was a magical experience during the largest ceremony of the year. Lempuyang is one of the oldest temples in Bali and is also known as the Gateway to Heaven. I can understand why…

Back in April, Lempuyang was bustling with locals. Hundreds of them everywhere for Galungan, all praying and honoring their ancestral spirits returning to Earth. This time was quite different, though. Only a handful of locals and two other tourists. Golo and I practically had the entire temple to ourselves.

We sat down inside the temple and a holy man walked over and began the prayer ritual. Incense, canang, prayer, holy water, and rice. It was a very special day – and the cherry on top was that I was wearing the sarong my Mom made for me.

FullSizeRender 3

The next day, I was invited to a cremation. Yes, a cremation… Cremations and weddings are the two largest ceremonies that happen in Bali. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous or hesitant at the thought of going to a ceremony where a deceased person gets cremated in front of everyone…

It began early in the morning and there were all sorts of traditions that I was trying to keep up with. We trekked all the way to the top of Lipah Bay and out of about 200 locals, I was the only white person. I was trying to look around and observe everything going on, but any time I looked a different direction, I’d make eye contact with a local and they’d quickly divert their eyes to hide that they were staring at me. But I couldn’t stop watching the holy man praying…it was about 2 hours of praying and various rituals.

After a couple of hours, everyone got up and started gathering the offerings and getting on their motorbikes to head back down the hill. There were about 100 scooters, everyone was honking their horns, whooping and hollering, and I don’t know if this is okay to say…but it was actually kind of fun. We were all following the truck with the casket to the beach. There was a group of men with sticks lifting all the wires and tree branches to protect the casket.

We finally got to the beach and hundreds of people huddled close together in whatever shade we could find. More praying, more music, and then a man who was clearly the torch expert began the fire. It was amazing to see so many people gather and celebrate this man’s life. When a Balinese person passes, they are cremated and then sent off into the ocean. It was an experience like I’ve never had before and it was wild to see the traditions (for examples, men must carry the casket in a circle three times on the beach). For a lot of these traditions, I’d ask about the meaning, and the locals would reply, “We don’t know. It’s just what we’ve always done for years and years.”

Within 24 hours, I went from watching a cremation rich with tradition, to a laser show in Singapore…

The Future

My Visa was coming to an end, so I had to leave the country to remain a legal traveler. I decided to come to Singapore because it is close, affordable…and completely different than Bali.

I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, so I was excited for yet another crazy, new experience. And if I’m going to stay in a hostel, might as well stay in a pod! I keep learning throughout my walks how hard it is to find what you’re looking for…or maybe I’m just not that intelligent. My driver from the airport told me to take a left and look for #51. So I walked down this ‘road’ and looked for #51. I actually thought it was kind of cute at first. “Ohhh, it’s like a tiny Italian cobblestone street! But instead of cute cafes and apartments, it’s a plethora of doors and air conditioners! Ooh la la!”


I finally found a door with #51 written in chalk. Seemed sketchy… The door wouldn’t budge and the construction workers were staring at me because they knew I was f***ing up. “Shoot. Within minutes of getting to Singapore, I’m lost, confused, and don’t know how to get into my hostel.” Thankfully, it was only a temporary brain fart and I quickly realized that, oh you know, I was wandering in the back alleyway. I walked along the other side by the river and finally found the door, complete with sign, distinct address, unlocked door handle and everything! [pat on the back]

This is the “pod” I stayed in.

Zetus Lapedus!!

And my thoughts after my first night in my pod? Welllllll, not sure if I’m a big fan of hostels… Just because I was in a futuristic pod doesn’t mean it’s still not a hostel…

Around 11pm, a couple men came back from whatever they were doing and came into the sleeping area and proceeded to talk as if they were still in a noisy bar. They talked about potatoes, cancer, and vaccines. I really, truly don’t understand people that don’t respect spaces with other people in them. These men had zero regard for the fact that there were 6 other people trying to sleep. There is a common area meant for talking late at night, but I don’t know, maybe they wanted everyone to hear their opinions on the best way to eat potatoes (they settled on mashed). Thankfully, I remembered I brought my ear plugs so I was able to tune them out – I thought about asking them to be quiet or move somewhere else – but since I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, I thought maybe this was normal? I was worried they’d look at me wide-eyed and say, “Hey Princess, this is a hostel. If you can’t handle people chatting, stay in a hotel.” Turns out, that’s actually what I’m doing for my second night. The hostel was completely booked up tonight, so this Princess booked a hotel room. DARN. Plus, those pods get zero air circulation and I woke up with a nasty sore throat. Okay, I’ll stop now. <rant over>

So, back to the future…

Look at this!

Since I’m in Singapore for only a couple of days, I have been filling my time with trying the local fare. After reading a few articles and blogs, I had a list of meals and restaurants I wanted to try. My first meal was dim sum.

Getting to this particular restaurant, Tim Ho Wan, was almost an impossible mission. Singapore has much wider streets, taller buildings, and it is a lot hotter than Bali. Walking isn’t as enjoyable here as I usually find it because of the heat. I searched around for this restaurant for about 20 minutes and then asked someone at the Singapore Recreation Center to help me. He directed me to an area that was the complete opposite direction of where I was supposed to be. 15 minutes later, I ended up back in the same spot with the same man, attempting to decipher the map again. He finally said, “Eat here! We have dim sum!” At this point, I was starving, frustrated, and sweating like a pig. I walked upstairs to the restaurant that I was way underdressed for and looked at the menu – “Dim Sum Lunch: $300.” GULP. A woman walked over and said, “I’m sorry, we stop serving lunch at 2pm.” It was 2:15pm. I was actually thankful this was the case because that could be my reason for leaving rather than admitting that I couldn’t afford lunch there. “That’s too bad; maybe next time.” Riiiiiight.

Luckily, the woman knew exactly where Tim Ho Wan was, so 10 minutes later, I was finally sitting in a restaurant ready to eat!! I was noticing the huge contrast between Bali and Singapore here. In Singapore, everyone (and I mean everyone) is on their phone or computer – usually with a selfie stick. Everyone is very proper, clean, and wearing the most expensive designer clothes. Lots of heels, YSL handbags, and business suits. And I noticed there was a lot more PDA amongst the couples – one couple never stopped holding hands, even while eating.

As for the service, in Bali, everyone becomes your friend. In Singapore, I couldn’t get anyone to even look at me. So I marked my order sheet for various dim sum dishes and handed it to the one server that noticed me. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but when I took my first bite of the pork dumpling, nothing else but that delicious morsel of flavor mattered. I devoured all the dishes and wanted to slurp whatever sauce was left.

And then, just like a movie, I became the center of attention. My elbow hit one of my plates and it crashed to the ground, crumbs and my unfinished BBQ pork bun scattered all over the ground. The entire restaurant went silent and looked at me in unison. I noticed the perfectly polished, hand-holding couple give me a sort of pity-look. I was wearing my workout shorts, a sweaty tank top, and I gave a large Shrek-like grin. Oops. “Hello, barbarian American right over here!” I seriously contemplated picking up the bun and finishing it, it was that good…

Later in the night, I walked to Merlion Park to watch the nightly laser show. It was INSANE how many selfie sticks and drones I saw! Singapore is a mix of futuristic architecture and nature. I’d walk through a park, but instead of kids swinging on swing sets, I’d see kids in flashing, LED rollerblades or playing on their iPads.

More proof that Singapore is in the future was the laser show… This dazzling show of bright lights, water displays, and cinematic music happens every night and the entire river walk is full of spectators. I joined the masses and ooh’d and ahh’d, feeling like a kid at Disneyland.

This morning, I got up extra early to get out of my muggy pod and try another famous Singapore meal: kaya toast with kopi. Kaya is a type of jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. I walked about a mile South and found Tong Ah Eating House (it’s a miracle!). I’ll be honest and say I looked up how I’m supposed to eat kaya toast – you’re served toast with two soft-boiled eggs and articles mention that locals pour soy sauce over their eggs and dip the bread in the eggs. I don’t know why, but I was nervous. That’s a lie. I do know why. I was surrounded by locals who knew exactly what they were doing and I wasn’t even sure if I should order at the counter or if a waitress would come to take my order. I asked one of the women working and she didn’t say a word, instead giving a quick point to the man cooking. I finally placed my order and when the food came, I was still nervous. The eggs were cooked, but still in their shells. “Okay, do I use this little spoon to crack my egg and pour into the empty bowl? The eggs are so hot, I can’t simply use my hands to crack them, right?” I was thinking too much and being a little Princess about it. I shook it all off, cracked the eggs with my hands, and poured soy sauce on top of my eggs.

I have no idea if I ate this meal correctly, but OH MY GOSH, so good. The savory egg mix combined with the sweet jam was divine. Plus, yet another addition to my “Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha.” $3. YUM.

I have no idea what other local meals I’ll be trying while I am still here, but I’m determined to keep stepping out of my comfort zone. That is, until I’m in my air-conditioned, quiet hotel room tonight…