Home is where the big suitcase is….

Hola Lovers of Random. I’m writing my latest Love Letter to you from {poolside atop the roof of my digs in beautiful Buenos Aires}{the workspace in Còrdoba}. Sometimes our accoms are total winners and {this}{last} month {is}{was} one of those months. But I’m not here to fill your heads with tales of Latin Love, as all I’ve really done here so far is sleep, and I’ve got far more to catch you up on than the {current}{last} month.

One question we get a lot as Remotes is where home is. Considering the only piece of my life from Birmingham that I kept was the amazing people I know there, and my family resides in a place I’ve never lived, I’ve maintained that home is where my big suitcase is – my home base for the month, usually my RY designated city. Once Earhart’s month in Chiang Mai ended, that statement became more – eh – fluid. I opted out of Kuala Lumpur as I embarked on my biggest travel stretch of the whole trip, so there was no place for my bag to reside while I hopped around Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand. I carried it, and my sense of home with me over the past 6 weeks – a more difficult task that I had anticipated, and not just because of the weight of the suitcase.

Lantern Festival

A good number of us decided to stay over a couple of extra days in Chiang Mai to experience the Loy Krathong Festival (more widely known as the lantern festival) that took place the weekend of our transition. On Friday, we scootered down to the river and I watched as our crew launched their krathongs, an offering to the river goddess, before walking down to the main bridge where the lanterns are launched and setting fire to a few of our own.

The next morning was transition day, so while the majority of Earhart loaded up to take off for KL, Marky, Kiwi, Eddie and I stuck Duffs and our luggage in a Red Car and followed her on our scooters to our temporary CM home. Our second night of Festival included parade watching, scorpion eating and an semi successful attempt to launch 6 lanterns tied together (4 made it up). After we almost set ourselves on fire, we joined Meraki (another RY group) at an outdoor riverside bar with a band that played alternative hits from the 90s. Not wanting to miss out on a delicious city team recommendation, Duffs, Marky and I stumble our way to Midnight Chicken and gorge on fried meats before turning in for the night.

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Sunday is our last full day in CM, so Kiwi, Mark and I take advantage of the gorgeous day and take the scooters out to the reservoir. On our way back, we stop in for some margaritas with Meraki before headed to meet the crew for dinner. Rems and Milana are in town, so we grab dinner with them and a few others that had stayed behind for the festivities. After we feast, Marky and I check out the Red Light District, play best out of five in pool (I can’t remember who won, which probably means I lost) and rejoin the rest at Zoe in Yellow. Lots of drinks and lots of dancing have us landing back at Midnight Chicken and I have no regrets.

Island Takeover

On Monday, Kiwi and I take our leave of the rest of the crew and head to Ao Nang to chill out for a few days before the Island Takeover. With four Remote Year groups in Asia, three in SE Asia alone, a meet-up weekend of debauchery has been organized in Krabi, Thailand – which is not actually an island, but peninsula getaway didn’t have the same ring to it (side note, it does have beaches, so my quest continues). Working nights leaves me the daytime to explore, so I check out Ao Nang beach, find it less than impressive and coerce Kiwi away from work and into a coastal scooter exploration. We end up at Klong Muang Beach, sneak onto a private resort and catch sunset while discussing loose plans for the rest of our lives.

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Wednesday we find ourselves without power and therefore wifi, the two most important needs of a digital nomad, so we take it as a sign from the universe and take a quick ferry ride over to Railay Beach, a beach not accessible by any other way than water. It’s epically gorgeous with lush, looming cliffs and clear blue water. After we return, we grab an amazingly delicious albeit spicy dinner and I head in for work while Kiwi hits the scene.

Thursday the rest of the crew arrives and debauchery weekend ensues. 53 remotes, 7 groups in total, all in one resort for an extended weekend of…. well… everything. There were dinners and brunches, beach cruises, pool days, games (both drinking and non), working (because we are digital warriors), networking, and one EPIC day long boat ride. But my favorite part of the weekend was meeting these people, my kindred spirits, my fellow crazies who decided to leave what they know behind and adventure for a year without question. It was truly something special to see how we all came together, and how just after a short weekend together, you had a whole new arsenal of people you could rely on, call on any time, people you now considered friends. The Remote Nation never ceases to amaze me in that regard.

Sorry for the lack of details, but here’s a video of the best day of the trip.

 

Kuala Lumpur

I started KL not only with physical and emotional hangovers from the weekend, but also some lost luggage and a solid 14 hours of praying to the porcelain goddess. (Question, if home is where my big suitcase is, and it is lost, does that mean I am as well?). My luggage showed as my stomach calmed and Marky took me out for a bite, but my appetite hadn’t returned as successfully as my belongings, so I passed on the dim sum and hit work instead. KL was highly underwhelming for me, but I was exhausted from being sick, super busy with work, and completely over the night shift, despite the pool table in the workspace. I made the best out of the sticky, hot, aggressive nature of KL with a rooftop dinner with the ever so charming DL, a swanky work afternoon with views of the KL Tower with the Dinster, and one horribly awful Tinder date.

Bali

I arrived in Bali for some much needed girl time and met Duffs and Kiminy for a bite. Afterwards,we trekked the treacherous stairs to their cliff-side Air BNB with sweeping beach views with my (now becoming annoyingly massive) previously mentioned suitcase. Once we were showered and ready, Duffs and I descended further to the beach for a beachfront walk to meet Kiminy and Em for dinner. But the tide was high. And it was pitch black. And we removed our shoes for grip. We’re laughing about our current sitch when Duff cries out in pain. Was it a shell? Was it glass? We’ll never know…. all we do know is it caused Kiminy to pass out and landed Duffs and I in an International SOS clinic getting her two stitches and causing us to miss our boat to Gili. But we swanked it up in a resort nearby for the night before catching a boat the next day.

Gili

A quick boat ride across the ocean has us on Gili Tarwangan, a small island off the coast of Lombak where there are no motor vehicles allowed. With Duffs semi-immobile, we take a horse drawn carriage to Wonderland, our accoms for this stretch and are delighted to see bike rentals next door. With Duff’s newfound ability to get around again, we take to the beach for some cocktails and the best pizza I’ve had since Lisbon (see this post). The island is small and cute and the water is clear and beautiful. We mingle with other travelers and locals at a club that evening, spend the next few days exploring and relaxing with the ample amounts of delicious tea provided at our hostel. I have one early morning of calls that I take on the beach sitting across from a local before taking my bike around the entire island (a short 30 minute ride) before we hop the boat back to Bali for Thanksgiving.

Balisgiving

There’s a good number of Earharts and visitors in Bali this week, so we rented a villa to spend the holiday together. There is a pool, private driver, in-house(ish) massages, and most importantly, a big kitchen with an in-house chef. The Dinster teams up with the staff to whip up a feast that makes us all feel at home, including mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and chicken that made us all forget turkey was a usual staple.

Nusa Pineda

After stuffing ourselves silly, I convince Isaac to grab a ferry to Nusa Pineda with me the next day for a little island exploring. Nusa Pineda is about an hour off Bali and rumors to have plenty of instagram worthy beaches and sites. We book a tour, board a boat and are scooped up by a van upon arrival. The sites on Nusa Pineda are breathtaking, from Angel’s Billabong to Broken Beach, Kelingking Beach to Crystal Bay, but it was also quite touristy. Line up, wait your turn, take your picture, move aside for the next. Still glad we went though.

Bali > NZ – Just Kidding

We return to Bali in time for one night’s stay before jetting off to the two week epic adventure orchestrated by Kiwi.  I hate to sound like a travel asshole, but I was over Bali… it was hot, sticky, hard to get around, and it was rainy season, so most afternoons were filled with thunderstorms.  My anxiousness grew as we approached the airport – Mt. Agung had been threatening to erupt for months, and the past few days had showed significant activity. We arrived at the wildly overcrowded Denpasar airport just in time to see our screen flash that all flights are cancelled because the bitch finally blew.  the next 16 hours are a blur of attempts to get off the island before we finally book a flight back to KL that will get us to NZ to meet the rest of the crew.  No questions asked.  Get us out of here.

I know this post is late. And it’s not on par with what I usually put out….. but I have a resolution to get better about writing in general, and that includes my etudes to you my darlings.  I don’t make promises, but if I did, I might slip you one that a post about New Zealand is headed your way soon.  In the meantime, keep yourselves entertained with pics here and here. 

Until next time my Lovers,

Specifically and Randomly yours,

SR

 

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