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Living Abroad: The Darker Side of Bali

TravelIris BusnackComment

Side Note: I intended for my blog to be a site for which I could post my experiences and travels as they happened. But, due to some of the unfortunate experiences I endured (read below) and perhaps too many nights dancing on tables in Singapore and swinging from the chandeliers in Hong Kong (LOL) – time quickly passed me by and was hard to find time to write. So, although from memory, I try to write in the order as things happened.

 Canggu - Bali, Indonesia

Canggu - Bali, Indonesia

My first few weeks in Bali were literally sunshine, glitter, and rainbows. Then, I got robbed. Being a complete headache in itself, trying to get my life as a foreigner back together was crazy. Replacing credit cards, passport, phone, etc. was a complete nightmare and extremely uncomfortable as a single women. I had lost my valuables and gained insight into what it felt to feel completely vulnerable.

Thankfully, soon after the incident I became close friends with my friend, Faith, who lived at the end of my street with her husband, Lawrence, and met an American friend who was living there for work. Going out was more frequent and I was having a blast. However, I couldn’t help get extremely nervous going home at night. I was always so nervous of getting robbed again or even worse, experiencing a home robbery since I lived alone.

Experiencing Bali as a tourist is a lot different than staying there for long periods of time.  You become familiar with faces and a lot more aware of happenings. As time passed, there wasn’t a week that went by that you wouldn’t hear about some tourist or even someone you knew on the island that got groped, robbed, bribed, bag snatched, pick pocketed, assaulted, or followed home. And this is probably something that happens a lot more than we are aware of in many tourist countries, not just Indonesia, but it was outrageously eye opening and kept me even more alert to my surroundings. Extremely important ladies!!! Always be alert and trust your instincts.

Trusting my instincts got me out of a potentially even worse situation the night I got followed home to my Villa one night. I noticed a man following me shortly after turning down my street, when I pulled over to approach the guy (and to actually see if he was following me) he acted as if he didn’t speak English and started reaching for his bag between his legs, he seemed super sketchy. Luckily, I had just hired security (because 911 doesn’t exist) that looked over a few other Villas in the area and sped off straight to him. The guy followed me all the way there until he noticed my guy. My heart was beating out of my chest as he quickly sped past. I could not sleep that entire night!

They say Bali is full of Karma. I like to believe that if I hold any kind of Karma in this life, it is good Karma. But for some reason, in Bali, it felt like I constantly had this black cloud over me. I was ready to leave Bali and hit the refresh button in order to return a month later with a do-over. This time traveling with a friend, and staying with friends who had been living in Ubud for 25 years in their beautiful villa over looking the fluorescent green rice paddies. It was quiet and relaxing, just what I needed.

About three weeks into our stay, I woke up in the middle of the night to catch a man dressed in all black (literally only his eyes showing) perched on my window of our second story bedroom. My lack of clothing had me stunned and a bit stalled in my immediate reaction to attack the guy. With just a sliding window between him and I (my side being closed and the other side being left open), I stood up to begin banging and screaming on the window to scare him off from trying to climb into the opened portion. He seemed to finally disappear into the dark, so I quickly tried to find clothes only to notice him trying to climb into the window AGAIN!!! Running over quickly to bang on the window again and yell as loud as possible, he finally gave up. I saw him climb down off the ledge hopping over the wall.

Bali was an extraordinary place there is no doubt about it. But, I could no longer force the fact that it just wasn’t the place for me to be long term, as much as I wanted it to be. Everyone I had spoken to that has lived there for years say you have to give it six months and Bali will either embrace you with open arms or chew you up and spit you out. Well, I was basically trying to hold my hair back while Bali was vomiting me out. Lol- so to speak.

Coined the Island of the Gods, this place is equal parts magical and equal parts mysteriously dark. It challenged my instincts, vigor, and resilience, and with that, I decided to move on (with a little PTSD to boot, ugh!). Regardless, Bali will always hold a special place in my heart and will definitely go back (I’ll just stay at a swanky hotel instead..lol).