July for me was a month of goodbyes and exploration. I left Byron Bay, traveled through Western Australia with my cousin and then flew to Indonesia. I have been traveling ‘Indo’ for the past three weeks, hitting Bali first. Starting off in Kuta, then to Canggu to surf (or watch others surf), Ubud (to write and fall in love with Byron Bay’s Indonesian equivalent), Java to hike a volcano, then back to Ubud because I could not get enough and then made my way to where I am currently, the Gili islands.
It’s been my first solo backpacking trip. Although I would much prefer to have a travel companion to share the travel with, it doesn’t always work out with other peoples schedules. Maybe they are busy or working or don’t have the money or are just not interested in exploring Indonesia. Instead of letting another travel opportunity pass by I decided to just go for it on my own. I remember years ago, looking at women who traveled solo and thinking to myself “damn, I could never travel alone.” Well, here I am!
I suppose this wave of independence goes hand in hand with the fact that I have now hit the wise old age of twenty eight. I had my birthday on the twenty eighth of July. I celebrated it on Gili Trawangan island, known as the party island. I was a bit worried about spending my birthday alone so I figured Gili T would be a good place to meet people and celebrate. I partied with a group of Europeans I met that evening and without my knowing, they asked the DJ to play happy birthday. A house remix version of ‘happy birthday’ blared loudly through the speakers as my new friends individually gave me a hug, including the staff. It was really sweet. In the morning I packed up my stuff and made my way for Gili Air; the slower paced, laid back and quieter island. It’s beautiful here, just my type of scene.
Although most birthdays feel like just any old day, this one feels different to me. Perhaps its because twenty seven was a huge year for me. I left my life in Beijing and moved to Australia, alone. It was the most terrifying and bravest thing I’ve ever done. It was also the best decision I ever made; to leave but mostly to start again. This year felt like many years rolled into one, I matured rapidly with every risk I took and I took many risks. The pressure to make twenty seven a year to remember stemmed from the fact that it was a year my sister never got to see. She was twenty six when she died, at twenty seven, I had surpassed my big sister. I felt like I needed to make it a year to remember. Looking back now, I certainly had a memorable year. Although “memorable” feels like an understatement. I feel as if I have reached the metaphorical summit. The view from up here is stunning, it was well worth the most treacherous, challenging hike of my life.
With that said, here are quotes that helped me to make some pretty big decisions in my life. I hope they also infuse you with a sense of adventure; push your own boundaries and seize the power of your independence!
“You must never cease to amaze yourself. Always seek new accomplishments, explore, learn, progress and be prepared to go above and beyond for people and things you want in your life.”