Let me preface this piece, right now, right here, by warning you, dear reader, that I am a tiny bit / a lot drunk as I type out this latest installment. I’m going to aim to just type as I think, no drafting, no checking, just pure diatribe. No plan, no heartfelt message, just what pops into my little hazy head. It may, therefore, be a bit crap. Conversely, it could also turn out to be genius, so read on.
I’ve just sprayed a load of dodgy Indonesian mosquito repellent all over me, I found it down by the pool, I can’t read the ingredients. I think it’s insect repellent – there’s a picture of a bug on the front. I’m slightly intoxicated by the fumes, could be the beers, but this stuff stinks. And it’s also stinging the skin on the back of my neck. I think I’ll take a shower before bed.
It’s my 6th day in Bali, and bloody hell what a cracking week it’s been. We’re here, a group of 11, celebrating my good friend Mark’s 40th birthday. It’s quite an eclectic bunch. We’ve got Mark; musician, personal trainer, trainee nutritionist, corporate high-flier, property investor, oh and he flies planes upside down, in loops, and vertically (literally) for fun. I was introduced to Mark as “the overachiever”, almost three years ago. It’s apt, but he’s also a lovely bloke, generous, funny, and a proper go-getter. It’s hard to not feel inferior sometimes. He doesn’t have a blog though. Yet.
Mark’s Swedish girlfriend, Cecilia is also here (try not to sing the song as you say that out loud, oooooohhhhh Cecilia…), my sister, Charlotte, my long time friends Rupert and Melissa, whom I know from my time working at IBM a full ten years ago (holy shit!), my Aussie flatmate, Anthony. Anthony’s friend; Vietnamese born, Aussie raised, and perennially chirpy, Rosa. It was no surprise that her and my sister hit it off, Charlotte is a constant ball of positive energy too. We’ve also got Mark’s friend from the UK, father of three, Richard, easily one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. Richard didn’t know what a meme was until this week. He has now been educated. Rounding us off are Mark’s friends from work here in Sydney, Chris and Tamara (they own a boat – good people to know).
I’ve been on group holidays before, but for the most part they were lads holidays. This one has been quite different. I’m here with 4 couples, a married dad on a rare break from family duties, and my sister. Sounds like it could be a bit lame, as a 30-something single chap. Au contraire. The dynamic is different, but it’s been mucho funzo. However, I am aware that I’m now officially the anomaly. Couples are everywhere, the numbers of my fellow singletons are in terminal decline.
I’m not going to walk you through the activities of the holiday in detail. We’ve had meals – so many meals. We’ve had drinks -so many drinks. Singing along to Chris and Mark’s guitar playing – so much crooning, preferably to Coldplay. We’ve been to beach clubs, to hipster cafes, watched sunsets on beaches overlooking the Indian ocean, rainforests (I missed that one, thanks dodgy chicken nasi goreng), local markets, and yoga sanctuaries.
Incidentally Coldplay is playing on the UE Boom as I’m writing – Up&Up is the current song, it’s making me feel uplifted, or is that the mosquito repellent infiltrating my blood stream?).
I’m also suddenly aware that a bird is chirping in a tree nearby, why the fuck is a bird up at ten past midnight? Do nocturnal birds exist? I thought bats held the monopoly on late night flight. I have barely touched the surface of this island, home to 4 million. I’m definitely coming back. When I do, I’ll do more yoga, and less drinking, maybe.
Oh by the way, if you’re in the market for a new bluetooth speaker, the UE Megaboom is perfect for a party of 11 and fills a large villa comfortably.
So, the dreaded ‘Bali belly’ has struck 5 of the 11, I was one of the unlucky 5.
Update: this number rose to 6 on the final day.
I was, however, the luckiest of the 5. A single vomiting episode, and a mere 24 hours of fever and feeling weak AF. Some of the others have not been so lucky. Reports of “exits from both ends” have been rumoured. The poor bastards. I came armed with a large collection of probiotics, natural herbal antibiotics and antifungals, and I’m also a big fan of fasting. When I was struck down, I tripled the doses, and didn’t let anything but water touch my lips for a full 24 hours. Back. In. The. Game… Sort. Of.
‘Something Like This‘ just came on the MegaBoom, so let’s run with that. Chris Martin wants “something just like this“. What does he want? Well I know what I want. I want to feel these relaxed vibes that I’m currently enjoying – more often.
Why do I want this?
Because it’s how we’re meant to be.
Sure, we’re meant to work hard sometimes, but let’s dig deeper. We’re meant to be surrounded by our people, trusted people. We’re meant to eat wholesome food (the food in Bali is outstanding FYI). We’re meant to have fun, we’re meant to laugh, we’re meant to enjoy ourselves. We’re meant to be switched off. We’re meant to be free.
Conversely – we’re not meant to be connected to the internet 24-fucking-7. We’re meant to sleep when our bodies need to sleep. We’re not meant to be sat at desks tapping away at computers for 8-12 hours a day, crushing our internal organs. We’re meant to spend time surrounded by plants, by people, by other species.
Sure, we’re probably not meant to eat epic breakfasts of all sorts of wonderful foods every day, but heck, I’m on holiday. If I want three eggs, scrambled, with bacon, and spinach, and mushrooms, and tomatoes, I’m going to have it. Sod it, keep going, I’ll take the hashbrowns, and some hummus, pumpkin toast and pickled cabbage too. Just give me all the foods. Except the gluten. Or the E-Coli.
“I’m on holiday”
It’s a weird concept when you think of it. We take holidays to escape our day to day lives. Why do we need to do this?
BECAUSE WE LEAD CRAZY FUCKING LIVES.
We really do. I look around Sydney a lot and think to myself, “fuck, a lot of these people look unhappy”. Or they look like zombies, staring at their phone with no emotion at all. And to those of you reading this back in England, Canada, wherever. You lot often look more stressed and pissed off more than the Aussies do. Maybe the Vitamin D does them some good. For the record, I’m just as guilty of looking unhappy and stressed as everyone else sometimes. I’m not saying I’ve got it all worked out, I’m just aware that we have a strange status quo going on these days.
Bollocks, I said this wasn’t going to be a piece with a message or an agenda, but yet here I am on a full charge rant. I realise that many of you will acknowledge what I am saying is true, obvious even. This is nothing new, and I’m not aiming to preach here. To rant is one thing. To offer solutions is a whole different ball game. I don’t have a magic pill.
I do however have an intention. They talk in yoga of setting an intention for the class. The same applies in life – here’s my drunkenly compiled, tropical holiday-inspired list:
- Spend as much time with your loved ones as possible. Not just the immediate family and best mates. See everyone you like and care for. MAKE THE EFFORT.
- Get out and talk to people who you don’t know as much as possible.
- Get out in the sun.
- Take as much time off from the daily grind as you can.
- Do not put work above everything else. Trust me, health is way more valuable than financial wealth ever will be. You will never be healthy if you are chronically stressed.
- Let go of the shit. Especially if you’ve got food poisoning. Do not keep it in with closed loops of rumination. Or Imodium.
- Eat good food. Nutritious food.
- Turn off the technology every now and then.
- Play more board games.
- Re-learn how to sit and do nothing. The buzzword is meditation, but that’s all it is really. Do nothing. without distraction. We all have this in us, it’s innate. I think a lot of us have forgotten. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to relax once you re-learn.
- Find a way that helps you to relax and do more of it. If you don’t know what that is yet – just implement the 10 steps above as much as possible.
- Failing all of the above, book 2 weeks in South East Asia with a group of mates.
It’s getting late, even that chirpy bird has gone to bed. I’m aware I haven’t talked about the earthquakes, maybe I’ll go into that experience in some more detail another time. I will just say, for now, that it was quite a moving experience.
In keeping with the theme of the blog, ‘my best self’ (I’m aware what a slightly ‘wanky’ title it is, but, well you’ve got to stand for something…), I’m going to print up the list above and hang it on my wall at home. I’m not suggesting you quit your jobs and ‘follow the dream’, or some tired cliche like that. But maybe devise your own list of intentions, similar perhaps to the one above. Have it printed and framed, hang it in the kitchen, and it will serve as constant reminder to do the things that will, ultimately lead to a happier, healthier life, for you and your families.
Happy holidays you lovely bastards. Holiday is not a place you go. It’s a frame of mind.