Bali | Saying Farewell to Our Second Home

After spending over half a year in Bali, it really did start to feel like our new home. We’ve made great friends here, become regulars at beachside watering holes, gotten to know our friendly neighbors (and their kids), and finally figured out how to (mostly) maintain a normal life in Indonesia. Andy always looked forward to his amazing school, tearing up the local beach club scene with his buds, and any chance to be with his first crush (an adorable Aussie/Javanese gal just a month younger than him). The first time she came over to our house, Andy was wearing his shark rash guard and nervously asked “Daddy, do I look OK?” They’re so cute together, that was a hard goodbye for sure.

We also loved taking advantage of all the local tourist stuff at our doorstep. What a treat being able to choose between Bali’s volcanic lakes, cliff-backed beaches, or a monkey forest when an open Saturday came around. The impossibly lavish lifestyle that we were able to afford with our US Dollars here was also such an incredible experience, never really having to think about whether our budget could handle an evening on the town. The largest paper bill was worth around US$6, and a Gojek ride (Indonesia’s Uber) was often only $1. And having the time away from work to take advantage of it all too – we are acutely aware of how lucky we have been. But all good things must come to a close, and the time has sadly come for us to start slowly making our way back towards reality.

Was it all rainbows and gumdrops though? Of course not. One of the reasons we chose Indonesia for our year abroad was knowing how different it would be – so that we might really learn what our expectations and tolerances are, should we decide to fully move abroad in the coming years. Many of things that we found annoying were things that we couldn’t have really anticipated without being here first, such as poor air quality from neighborhood trash fires. Construction noise and dog poop were omnipresent as well. There’s also a severe lack of sidewalks, which really cut down on the amount of exercise we’d hoped to have in our lives – owing to the hazards from a constant flow of motorcycles along Bali’s narrow streets and alleys. Also on the motorcycle front, we witnessed 2 instances of rider fatalities while here- the first time being on our 2nd day here! So even though I took the time to get properly trained and licensed in the US, we never hit a level of comfort with putting Andy on my motorcycle- which made local mobility more frustrating. I also got bit by a dog while riding too!

The mundane aspects of life are also still with you no matter where you hang your hat, and oftentimes become really irritating to accomplish in such a different system and culture. Balinese grocery stores rarely stock things we’d taken for granted as “staples” in the States, some basic pharmaceuticals are actually illegal here, and renewing visas is insanely time consuming and expensive beyond 30 days. For medical care, Indonesians with the means will usually hop a flight to Singapore or Bangkok. So after a comically unprofessional trip to a dentist here, I also felt the need to hop a flight when I had a more serious medical scare later on. The hot and humid air grew tiresome as well since most common spaces within houses here are not air conditioned- which often means a full body sweat well before one’s morning coffee is even ready. I used to loathe cold weather, so there may be a bit of “the grass is always greener” scenario at play here. But snow started sounding pretty appealing to all three of us by the time it was time to leave Indonesia! Thus while we will miss our new life and friends here immensely, getting back to old friends and things that we’ve missed from US life will soften the blow for sure. We’re so happy that many of our US friends were able to visit us here too, which greatly lessened any feelings of homesickness.

What will we miss the most about Bali? There are tons of little quirks about life here that’ll be hard to replicate back in the US. Things like walking down the narrow temple-adorned alleyways under moon-lit nights, hearing the whistle pigeons hover overhead (google it!), looking for starfish on a day date, monsoon season storm watching, and biking the beachfront promenade will leave fond and lasting memories of our time out here. Even just looking at all of the intricate stonework around our house here was enough to feel like we were on some exotic vacation everyday. Then there’s the ability to have just about any kind of cuisine delivered to your doorstep via the ubiquitous motorcycle taxis for under $1. We utilized this service so often that Andy knows the sound of the app notifications and will ask “Daddy, is there something coming for me on a snack motorcycle?”. Ha! Crazy to think what his baseline of “normal life” has become having spent 1/4 of his life abroad at this point.

I’ll also really miss having the ability to have incredibly exotic new experiences within just a couple of hours on a plane. One of the main reasons that we chose Bali for our home base was its proximity to so many regional places to explore. We spent Christmas in Penang, bounced around northern Thailand, and cooled of in the mountains of Malaysia. We hit Java (one island to the West) both as a family and me solo, I went with a friend to neighboring Timor Leste, and I had an incredible birthday trip to Komodo Island. A tad different from what we could pull of on a long weekend from Austin, to say the least.

Saying farewell to Andy’s school was also tough for everyone, they really set the bar high for our first experience as parents entering the school years. His classmates all gave him thoughtful wishes and hugs on his last day, and his teachers sent us videos of it all – as they did throughout the year. Our amazing expat friend circle, knowing our love for dressing up like morons, threw us an epic 80’s themed going away party too. Gonna miss this crew a ton.

Beyond the local amenities, we’ll sorely miss the things that were only possible while on a non-working sabbatical. We were able to be present for Andy 100% outside of school hours, soaking up every smile that we were able to share with him at such a fun age. There is no regret whatsoever for sacrificing money and savings for that precious time as a family. We also took advantage of the school hours to reconnect as a married couple, something that can be really challenging to do as full-time working parents. I’m ever so grateful for that too. Having the mental bandwidth to truly reflect on life, lessons learned, and what we really want for our future was such a gift as well. So, as we uproot from Indonesia, hop around wintertime Japan, and start preparing for reentry to the US, we’ll do so knowing that we made the most of the opportunity that we had here and are excited for everything that’ll come next!


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  • CassandraMarch 20, 2024 - 11:15 am

    What an awesome year. Thank you so much for sharing. It has certainly been inspirational. ReplyCancel

  • MarinaMarch 20, 2024 - 9:08 pm

    What a lovely experience. So glad you guys got to experience this!ReplyCancel

  • GeoffMarch 21, 2024 - 9:09 pm

    Beautifully written. Miss y’all. This was very inspiring to read, especially the part about Kevin getting bit by a dog while riding a motorcycle! Hope to reconnect when you return home. ReplyCancel

  • JojoMarch 22, 2024 - 2:55 pm

    You all Have a safe trip home!!!! Hope to see you soon!!! Have loved all the postings and time flew by!!!! Love 💕 you all!!ReplyCancel

  • Kevin O’NeillMarch 22, 2024 - 4:05 pm

    All hats, caps and sombreros off to you three. Thank you for sharing your incredible adventures with us. Travel is the most important thing we can do to open our minds and discover how many different ways there are to see and experience life. 
    Travel safe! We look forward to seeing you in Texas. High five to The Bat! What you have given him is priceless!ReplyCancel

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