A fake world met them at the airport in Bali. Or, at least, that’s what it felt like.

They’d left Kamala in Kathmandu, the goodbye drawn out in repetitive statements and repeated questions. Adjusting to being back in a city after so much time spent with the only the mountains and each other was difficult. Everything felt more intense than it needed to be. But the world was still there when they descended from the mountains.

After 28 hours of travel, three flights, and a bout of food poisoning, Bali felt calm. Warm air met them when they walked out of the airport. This was a comfortable place, with an easy, but tangible energy hanging around everywhere.

They found normal in the strange, in the unusual.

On the edge of a huge cliff in Bingin, waves crashing below, they lay on small beds as monkeys lingered around. In a second, a Kindle disappeared, snatched by a sneaky primate. They laughed and bartered with him, offering an apple in exchange for the much more valuable object he held.

A yoga class with 80 other people who they suspected were all expatriates. Recommendations for places to eat breakfast and buy smoothies, all given because people just wanted to share the things they were excited about.

The discovery of a hotel made completely out of bamboo and a world-renowned school dedicated to sustainability. There couldn’t have been a bigger contrast between two back-to-back places on their itinerary.

Finding the “food truck state of mind” in Ubud but in a smaller way, with the men who stopped on the side of the road and cooked with a stove attached to their motorcycle. Seeing history in the temples and tradition in the banana leaf offerings in the driveways each morning.

Rolling green hills with rice terraces in between small surfer towns with motorcycles and healthy bowls of colorful fruit. Kate and Kyle reveled in the simplicity.

Their year of travel was simple in and of itself, but Kate couldn’t help but think about the needless stress in the life she’d left behind in the United States. Worries about clothes and wearing makeup, owning a home, and making enough money.

So much of what she’d seen so far had put things into perspective. But most of all, it’s the mindset, the feelings Kate hopes she will remember when she gets back to California.

While driving around the island, their favorite Balinese local made them stop at one particular bar to try a specific kind of coffee. They had time, so much time — why not?

He loved meeting travelers and talking to people, making a living by transporting others from place to place. There was something genuine about him, something true that was present in every person they met on the tiny island.

Kate and Kyle found something special in this place of simplicity. There was Zen in Bali too, in an entirely different way.

Kate is a Texan who now considers San Francisco home. She is happiest when hiking among pine trees, exploring new places, trying local food, and doing anything that can be described as “cozy.” She is currently traveling internationally with her husband and uses her blog as a creative outlet: follow their journey on Instagram or Life on Pine.

 

Related:  The Passport Project, Part Six: Leaving Dakar