Adventure prone

Waking up at 4 am is a hellish experience I wouldn’t ever want to wish on anyone. But the Travel Companion and I did it, in my 4th iteration of what has so far been an annual pilgrimage to Bali, that has now gotten past just scuba diving off the east coast of Bali and off Nusa Penida.

I had a great time on Christmas with Jan and Markus (just the 3 of us, it seemed), since tourist numbers are madly erratic for this period. But perhaps what made it worth it as always, was the accidental conversations I fall into during these journeys. Jan and I spoke at length about conceptual art, the European far-right, losing face and how stupid people can get on the way back to Sanur, while TC got badly sunburnt in the meantime.

But that was only the start of the trip. Blame my growing thirst for adventure.

Thus far, I’ve done a dive off the drifty little islands off Padang Bai (Mimpang and Tepekong), gone off-roading on a Buggy/quad bike tour off the villages past Ubud and recklessly decided to up the ante and head far north for canyoning.

“Do not hesitate,” Adrien (the Icopro instructor) said. And he’s right. It gets worse when you think and re-think the angle of the jump, the probability of hitting your head on the rocks.

I ended up lobbing off the edge, 8 metres into a deep pool, and straight on my arse like a demented cannonball into the water.

Add that embarrassing thing to sliding down slippery rocks, zip-lining partway down and rappelling off waterfalls…and I found myself having an absolutely brilliant time while at it, then wished I’d chosen to do a full day of it. The Kalimudah part of the Kerenkali Canyon in the mountainous north of Bali (Git Git) is the most technical of the parts which the TC and I had signed up for with Bali Adventure and Spirit, and the hellish experience of waking up at 4am just to make this journey from Sanur more than made up for the adrenaline rush and the thrill that came from working the stunning scenery and getting dunked straight into ice-cold water. TC, who couldn’t even swim, was so enthused and challenged by the entire experience that swim classes are finally, finally on the cards.

Which isn’t to say that I wasn’t in 2 minds about this when we first started out—straight out of a furious thunderstorm in Sanur to rain that persistently didn’t let up until about 8 am after we finished breakfast in Gigit. We went past numerous lazy dogs, endless rice plantations and cloud-covered misty mountains framed by rows of corn and coconut trees. The drive back had worse traffic, but bluer skies and colourful towns where tourists don’t seem to register much on the locals’ quotidian.

But it was mostly filled with memories of the hard kick of the water up my nose, the thrill of the slides and the pull of the abseil rope, as well as the exhaustion that crept in slowly as the day wore on.

My canonying-initiation card will proudly stay in my wallet for now.

2016: What I remember

I’ve never been the sort who catalogues every good and bad moment of the year and up until now, it has been difficult trying to sort each and every memorable one out. The months and the weeks go by in a manner that makes me feel I’d been in a coma for several months; a bad blip rolls over into a good one, which sometimes stays on…until the next disappointment or roadblock hits. And on it goes.

But now that I think a little harder about it, the good memories always tend involve the process of learning something new, either as a hobby or as skills acquisition (I hate this corporate-sounding term in any case), along with the times I’ve been away travelling doing something new.

In no particular order, this was what really stuck out:

  1. Taking rock climbing technique classes.
    Over a period of 4 weeks, I shook my bon-bon, twisted from side to side, gained many bruises along the way and trashed my ankle while at it. And still came out of it liking the sport more and more.
  2. Visiting the Lofoten islands in Norway.
    The pictures that I’d seen did all the justice to this place. Best done with a travelling companion and a rental car. Probably also best done while not during Easter when the whole country shuts down.
  3. Visiting Okinawa.
    Yet another amazing place I’d seen from afar, then finally made good on the personal goal to do it. This was a solo trip, done with a rental car and the blue, blue sea everywhere I went.
  4. Finally signing up for motorcycle lessons.
    I figured that wanting to be a biker chick starts with learning how to get my limbs coordinated with the brakes, clutch and the throttle while enduring the insults and the yells of the instructors. I’m barely into the practical lessons and also have the bruises to prove it after a skid and fall.
  5. A death in the family.
    I can’t even begin to describe the deluge of emotions that accompanies this, the scrambling that occurs later and the fallout from it do chip away some part of the soul.
  6. Coming to a point where important relationships had to be evaluated, giving up some things, while hanging onto others.
    Not to say it isn’t all figured out, neatly compartmentalised and sorted in my head, but such housekeeping has been and I suspect, always will be painful.

The truth is, I don’t remember much more beyond this. There’s only just the mantra of keeping on, then hanging onto the hope of what will come next. And then I look up and pray.