I feel pulled in two different directions.
On the one hand, I feel somewhat hollow. The last couple of weeks, once I actually motivated myself to get planning, have been spent on false starts: I don’t need any more jabs (I must have grade-A blood by now, I’ve had so many); I don’t need a visa until I get there; I don’t need to order a huge amount of meds to sustain me for a long time. All of my major trips have required so much preparation — be it yellow fever vaccinations, new clothes and equipment, or the Kafka-esque Indian visa procedure — but this time it’s been simple. Itinerary. Clothes. Go.
I suppose by ‘hollow’ I mean that today, as I head to Heathrow with my barely half-full backpack, my excitement is more diluted than it’s been on previous trips. (My last two-week trip, to India, was a return to my favourite place in the world, and as I mentioned above, required a bout of bureaucratic combat). The thing that took the longest this time was organising my itinerary, but answers to what to do or how to get from A to B were barely an arm’s length away. I don’t have the fire of excitement that I had before south America or India, because that fire represents my desperate, endless love for flinging myself headlong into the unknown, straight out of my comfort zone. And I’m not sure if this is going to be anything but pedestrian. My Dad asked if I was nervous: no, not really. I worry I’m going to get there and feel that I’m just scratching the surface of a wonderful country; that I’m taking the easy route and that I’m not going to have time to really learn anything.
Break: I should explain. Lots of people have asked why I’m going to Indonesia, of all the places in the world.
The answer is simple. I take much of my travel inspiration from my parents, and especially travelling they did in their twenties. My mum tells me that there are three places in the world in which she feels completely at home, and which she will never get bored of visiting and exploring. The first is India. The second is Morocco. And the third is Indonesia. I agree with her about numbers one and two, so I’m betting that I’ll agree with her on number three, as well.
The other direction in which I’m pulled is the one where I realise how privileged I sound above. The one where I realise that two weeks away on the other side of the world is nothing to pre-emptively regret; nothing to dread; nothing to look down upon. I’m going to discover a whole different culture, to see some of the most beautiful archaeological artefacts in the world, to try out a whole new cuisine and to see a whole new lifestyle. I’m going to ride in a rickshaw again. I’m going to meet so many amazing people. I’m going to learn what Indonesia smells, feels and tastes like. I’m going to go to one of the places I’ve wanted to visit since I was small. I’ve spoiled myself with my previous trips. I am outrageously, stratospherically lucky.
And as I was packing, I noticed that my backpack had a red bracelet tied around the handle, similar to the bracelets you receive in Hindu temples. I don’t know how it got there — my brother might have put it there, perhaps — but either way, I appreciate it as a blessing and good luck charm.
Some notes. There should be plentiful WiFi, so I’ll upload things when I can. I’m writing on my phone, which doesn’t have an SD card slot, so I won’t have many photos to add until I get back to the UK – but when I do some will be Matt’s, so they should be amazing. I will be posting continuously, so you may want to mute me. Mum and Dad: if I’m posting, I’m alive, so don’t worry if I don’t reply to WhatsApp right away.