I’ve always left Gili Islands out of my to-go places in Indonesia simply because it hadn’t appealed to me as a solo backpacker. It had sounded very much like another fun Thai island like Ko Phangan or the sort of place that you’d prefer to take romantic sunset walks with a loved one. However, when it came to planning our honeymoon, Chris and I had thought it sounded perfect: neither of us had been there and we needed something nice and relaxing to cap off our Indonesian trip.
We had our first run-in with bad luck on Hatta island. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little about Hatta island–the jewel of Banda Islands.
We’ve loved the looks on people’s faces when we tell them that we were going to the Banda Islands for our honeymoon.
Eyebrows furrow and blank looks all around. One was even suspicious that I was actually pulling his leg.
No one has heard of the Banda Islands before. I don’t blame them. I didn’t too–until I ran a deep search about Indonesia’s lesser-known islands, especially the small ones that deliver huge rewards.
Indonesia is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Like a drug, I keep coming back to explore her mystical far-flung corners. Mostly untouched by mass tourism and usually promising a great deal of adventure, Indonesia can be so much fun but there’s often a price to pay.
The price is, you can never rely on its transportation network.
Maybe the ferry leaves today, maybe it doesn’t–Depends, the locals shrug. Maybe you lucky.
Sometimes, it isn’t only inefficient, it’s also dangerous. If I survive this taxi ride from Tulehu port to Kota Ambon, I’ll call my dad and tell him that I love him. These thoughts race through my head each time I find myself in a taxi or a minivan in Indonesia.
And the planes? Don’t get me started. Here’s our recent flight comedy of sorts with Lion Air at Ambon and Makassar airports.
Chasing unconventional experiences is what I love best when travelling.
If you’ve an opportunity to do something different or unusual, you should always go for it.
The beauty of saying yes to a spontaneous and unusual experience somewhere foreign is always so much more memorable than going through a checklist of sightseeing spots. Like our attempt to catch a midnight movie in a cinema in Batam (but failed, because we fell asleep out of exhaustion in the hotel), watching the Valentine’s Day opera in Riga, and now, watching a famous Disney’s Lion King in Hamburg. In German.
Of course, this wasn’t as unplanned as the rest. The tickets to the musical was after all our wedding gift from our friends. But they must have known us well, to have gifted us with such a precious opportunity to do something completely different. I mean, they could have just bought us a kitchen appliance or simply cash, but no, these geniuses had other plans.
I’ve got a confession to make.
Chris and I finally tied the knot in April and held the reception in August this year. I thought I’ll just mention it in passing just because someday, I intend to write about our wedding in Germany. But not today.
due to large wedding expenses (it was already a backpacker budget!) and preparation, we couldn’t travel as often as we did the years before. We didn’t take our usual 2-week summer vacation like most Germans would. And the traveller in me withered up and almost died. What, no travelling? How could you do this to me?!
So when it was finally over and done with (with only thank you cards to send out now), we heaved a sigh of relief. While all I wanted to do is to crawl onto the couch and watch Netflix for a 100 days straight, there was a gift of travel waiting for us.
You’d think that living in a highly globalised society, and having German friends (prior to meeting Chris), nothing about Germany will surprise me. Well, not true.
To my (pleasant) surprise, there are still plenty of interesting traits and habits that I’ve come to discover. They don’t shock me but it sometimes make me go, “What the hell…”
Usually friends find it hard to keep up with my whereabouts when I was still clinging on tightly to my identity as a nomad. Texts and emails that start with, “Where are you now, Ying?” are not unusual. It was always fun,and privileged to say the least, to come up with a different answer each day. Yes, last week I was in Dubrovnik and today I’m in Ajaccio—life rocks as a traveller. Traipsing from places to places had defined me. While others had labels like “The Career Woman”, “The Fun One”, “The Doctor”, I was simply called “The Wanderer”. That suited me just fine.
But these days, my answer to the question above is less exotic. I’ve been answering ‘Germany’ for a better part of the year.
Yes, The Wanderer have been living in Germany for a year. And a little bit more. Apart from a handful of short road trips (I consider 2 days to 2 weeks short), I have been a true resident of the quiet Hermsdorf.
As the ferry slowly pulled up to the pier, the large hanging grey clouds rumbled slowly, threatening to rain. Chris and I looked uncertainly the sky and then at our approaching destination: Maafushi Island of Maldives.
We had been super excited when we spotted a reasonably affordable guesthouse on Maafushi while researching for accommodation on the Internet. Double rooms started from USD35—it felt almost too good to be true!
However, as Maafushi grew closer and closer, my heart sank a little.
I bet you’re about to hate me.
You’re huddling in your cramped office cubicle, wishing that you were anywhere else but there.
You wince as you scroll through the page. One after another, photos of sparkling turquoise waters revealing itself slowly and almost mockingly. You can almost breathe the balmy air; taste salt on your lips.
Reading about someone else’s vacation on the Maldives is like smashing salt into your gaping wound, and yet, you can’t seem to tear yourself away from the page.
Because I’m about to tell you how you can do the same without having to sell your first-born. Or that shiny new gadget of yours.
TAKING UP AN INTENSIVE GERMAN COURSE
It has been three weeks since I started my first German lesson at the VHS.
During the day, Chris is at the office while I’m left to my own devices. I am trying to set up a freelance writing career so I usually write, blog, read or loiter around the Internet for ideas.
My phone buzzes, demanding my attention.