Three weeks ago I packed up a suitcase, my surfboard and laptop and headed to Bali for winter.
Firstly, I guess, sorry. Maybe you’re reading this on the train, tram, in an office or anywhere else slightly depressing. I’m wearing a summer dress and no shoes and feel a little bit hot, in case you care (I’m sure you don’t!).
Certainly the news that I was ditching winter and setting up a tropical office for two months provoked some pretty funny responses from friends and family.
“What are you, 70?” asked one of my shocked pals, to my great amusement. Apparently ditching the cold is only for grey nomads, not people in the prime of their working lives.
The thing is, I just wanted to learn to surf properly. And live in the tropics. And get as far away as possible from the Melbourne winter.
“You’re not 18, you know!” responded one of my nearest and dearest in exasperated fashion.
At this stage I was a bit confused: was I far too young or far too old to be putting fun as my number one priority?
Mostly I just became the brunt of some high-level envy and a lot of: “Oh riggghhhht, are there people that can do that, are there??”
Well I guess there are, because now that I’m here in Canggu – a laidback surfing town about 15 minutes’ drive from Seminyak – it seems there are plenty of others doing exactly the same thing.
Before you get too jealous, I’m still working (well, at least sometimes). It just happens to be that I’m not wearing any shoes in the office, and I usually start the day a bit late, after a jog on the beach or a spot of yoga. Or a sleep-in if I’ve had one too many margaritas the night before.
Today I met a new friend at Echo Beach for a ‘workday’ lunch:
When a friend-of-a-friend heard about my trip, he asked: “Is she a millionaire or something?” I wish!
To help fund this little adventure, I’ve rented out my one-bedroom apartment on Airbnb. It took a bit of work to set up, but it’s covering my mortgage and bills, and I found a cleaner to take care of the place and wash the linen etc while I’m away.
Instead, I’m ‘living’ here:
I still have one bedroom, but also a pool, and an outdoor area (plus a slight whiff of pig manure from the property next door, but let’s overlook that). For the privilege I’m saving at least $100 a week. I could have got something far cheaper, but a little bit of luxury never hurt anyone.
Maybe I’m turning into some kind of princess, but I’m also feeling pretty happy that I don’t have to do any laundry (it’s about $2 for a small load), cook any meals (a local meal is about $1-$2 or a Western one about $5-$8 around these parts), or even make my own bed.
Transport is coming in at about $6 a day (scooter rental plus Uber for longer trips or evening rides), and I’ve joined up to this co-working space, which is 100 metres from the beach but heaps cheaper than the one I go to back home. Let’s be honest – the fact that the odd surfer strolls in bare-chested isn’t hurting either!!
In the grand scheme of things I realise I’m pretty bloody lucky. The biggest challenges have been a few lonesome moments after coming here on my own (especially when every Indonesian taxi driver asks me where my family is!), loud roosters that sometimes keep me up at night and motivating myself to work when there are so many better options.
But things are certainly looking up now that I’ve made a few new mates, tuned out to the noisy cock-a-doodle-doos and know every WiFi password in town.
And while I do realise I’m very lucky, I largely believe that you make your own luck. If I hadn’t saved lots of money by housesitting, had the guts to quit my full-time job and then built up a list of clients that trusted me enough to agree to let me write from Bali, I guess this wouldn’t have worked.
Of course, I also don’t have a family of my own yet, so I can take off at a moment’s notice.
However I’ve met many people in different situations who are still making it happen – single mums, FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) families, couples and others just travelling through for a bit.
I can’t wait to see where this takes me. Who knows – I might miss my friends and family too much (though I’ve already had one good friend come to visit) and go home early. Or I might just stay a bit longer and keep learning to surf.
While I’ve travelled to Bali a handful of times before, Canggu is different to anywhere else I’ve been.
There is barely any traffic, heaps of rice paddies, religious ceremonies, beautiful beaches, cracking bars, more good food than you can poke a stick at and more than the average quantity of hipsters. Bintang T-shirts are in extremely short supply.
I never spend a night watching TV. For starters there’s nothing good on to watch. Instead, I’m usually having a seafood dinner, doing yoga, having a few drinks while listening to some live music or going salsa dancing.
And people are so fit here that it’s inspiring me to get moving more.
If I get a touch homesick, I just go for a sunset surf. Last night was a glorious one. The water was warm and lovely in the fading light, and splinters of burning red were lighting up the sky.
And I thought to myself, well this is better than being wedged on a train after spending eight hours in front of a computer.
So maybe I’ll just stay here for a little while.
This article was originally published on heylittlespender.com.