“You’re so brave!” “I wouldn’t be able to do that!” “Aren’t you scared?” The average responses I was greeted with when informing people I was planning to go to Bali alone.
I had already lived in France alone for 6 months, and had been living in Hong Kong up until that point, but this would be the first big travelling trip I made in Asia without so much as a helping hand. I met with a group the other side, and for the next 7 days travelled my way down through Bali and across to the Gili Islands. That was the easy part.
Once I had set foot back in Bali and gradually all of my comrades disappeared from the shuttle bus to their hotels, I realised I was completely alone in a South Eastern Asian country. I sat in my hostel room wondering what the hell to do with myself, and feeling 100% overwhelmed.
The next day I decided to pull myself together. Thanks to The Blonde Abroad, I knew to download the GO-JEK app; you input where you are and where you’d like to go, and 10 minutes later someone turns up at our location. You hop on the back of their motorbike and voila, they take you to your destination. It had been on my bucket list to get on the back of a motorbike, but I couldn’t help thinking that if I were to have an accident (which was highly likely as many of the drivers avoid the traffic by driving directly onto the pavement and back onto the road again), I had no safety gear on whatsoever and no one knew where I was. But it was completely thrilling all the same, with the wind blowing through my hair as we sped through the streets.
I had planned to go to a gluten free cafe but got dropped off at the entrance of something else. I stood, feeling unsure what to do next until I just went in. I was met by a full security check (bag check, weird bleepy body scanners, you name it) and I seriously started to wonder what I had got myself into. I entered a building that opened out onto a pool packed with people, and the beach beyond it. Club lounge music pulsed its’ way through the building and I realised I had only gone and accidentally entered the Potato Head Beach Club, one of the most famous hangout spots in Bali.
‘Oh well’ I thought again, and sat down and bought myself a £12 smoothie. I walked along the beach, had lunch in the Warung Cantina where the food is delivered by motorbike because they don’t actually have a kitchen, and spent the rest of the day reading and watching the sun set. My day wasn’t going to end there though.
I got another motorbike to take me back to my hostel, where I put on a dress, did my make up and made my way down to Ku De Ta, another infamous cocktail lounge. Met with an odd look when asking for a place for one person in a bar heaving with people, I perched on the wall of the lounge looking out at the beach, cocktail in hand. I could feel people looking at me, wondering what I was doing alone. You get used to that.
I moved onto a sofa next to two young Australian men, whom after ten minutes of giving me curious stares, turned to me and said ‘are you here.. by yourself?’. ‘Yeah, I’m travelling alone’ I responded, and they couldn’t do a lot to disguise the surprise on their faces.
I enjoyed the independence- doing whatever I wanted without having to compromise for others. The next day I rose early, checked myself out of my hostel and had breakfast in the cafe next door. I ordered a taxi to Canguu Beach, about a half hour ride from Seminyak and after an initial false start of not being able to find it at all, I arrived at the stables. Riding along the beach on horseback at 9 in the morning, I felt satisfied I had managed to do the one activity I had wanted to come to Bali for.
I decided to end my day by going to a bar with a pool all the way back in Kuta where I had started my whole journey, and treated myself to a Shellac nail treatment (who can afford that in the UK, let’s be honest). I walked out, grabbed the nearest guy to me with a motorbike and had him drive me to the airport at high speed.
Travelling alone as a teen is everything you would expect it to be; terrifying, stressful, anxiety inducing- but it also gives you the opportunity to grow. To test your limits, to make yourself stand out in the crowd, and to ultimately learn more about yourself than you ever would sitting in your bedroom in your home town.
Have you ever travelled alone? What was your experience of it? Let me know in the comments!