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Sunday 16 Jun 2013
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Is it fair to get the holiday blues on a trip like this?

This whole trip has been made up of lots of small adventures tacked together.  Each one has involved starting off alone, getting to know a new place and a new group of people, having fun exploring and discovering, then feeling a little sad to be moving on again, but always with the prospect of another great adventure to come.

I left Gili Trawangan and the fabulous people at Lutwala Dive two days ago.  This time it felt different.  Perhaps because I stayed there longer than I have in other places, or maybe because I had the time to get to know the people better, but whatever the reason I found that this was the first place I really didn't want to leave.  I wasn't ready to move on and knew that people wanted me to stay, but I made myself go or I knew I could end up staying there for another month and miss out on so many other places that I've wanted to visit for so long.

So I packed my bags and paid my bill and caught a cidomo back across the island in plenty of time to catch my boat back to Bali.  I still remember going on the school French Adventure Holidays every summer, falling in love with all the instructors and crying bucket loads with everyone else on the bus when we had to leave.  Heading back through the coconut plantations and along the beach road, I felt 14 again!  

The crossing took nearly two hours as it had to stop at Gili Air and Gili Meno too, but at least it was a smooth journey.  A minibus took me down to Sanur, a little beach town in the south of Bali where I had booked two nights in a deluxe room to treat myself after three weeks in a dorm.  It was a good decision - a huge white bed in a lovely cottage by the private pool awaited me.  Best of all was a TV with three movie channels, which was exactly the downtime that my brain needed and I settled myself in for an evening of movies and a very long night's sleep.

Sanur is a very small place with shops lining the streets and cafes lining the beach.  It didn't seem to have much going on, so I took my kindle to a cafe by the beach and enjoyed some delicious chicken satay.  Balinese satay is served over a mini barbecue - a hollow brick with hot charcoal in the bottom of it - whch keeps the chicken hot while you eat.  Unfortunately this one kept the glaze so hot I actually burned my lip and had a painful little blister for a couple of days.  Shame, because apart from that it was the best satay I had anywhere in Indonesia.

I had arranged a week in Chiang Mai with Stacie Long, a girl I'd travelled with on the Kiwi Experience bus in New Zealand back in February.  She's now working at a new International School in Kuala Lumpur for the next couple of years.  I was flying to meet her in KL before we went on to Thailand together for her week's annual leave.  It was this arrangement that took me out of Indonesia after 6 very happy weeks and I was looking forward to it really, but standing in Denpassar airport waiting to board my delayed flight, I can honestly say I have NEVER wanted to get on a plane less in my life.  Had I not already checked my luggage in, I think I really might have changed my mind and gone back to Lutwala and told Stacie to come there instead.

But I got on the plane and flew to KL, then discovered I had flown into the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal - home of Air Asia) airport, not the KL International terminal I was expecting.  For UK readers, this is a bit like landing in Luton when you think you're flying into Heathrow! I had to wait 15 minutes to get a bus over to the International terminal (another 20 mins) so that I could get a train into KL Sentral Station (another 35 mins) and then get the LRT to the stop by my hostel.  In total, it took me longer to reach my hostel than it did to fly up from Bali!  None of this did anything to improve my mood and the icing on the cake was when I discovered that my bag had been smeared in oil during the flight and I now had oily stains all down the side of one of my favourite tops.  As the saying goes, "at that point, I nearly lost my presence of mind..."

I went to bed early and felt sorry for myself, feeling embarrassed at being miserable on a trip like this.  It has been the most incredible 5 months of my life, during which which I have seen more fascinating things and met more brilliant people and been to more amazing places than anyone deserves to go to in a decade.  I know how truly lucky I am to be doing this right now, but it doesn't help shake the holiday blues every now and then.






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