“Don’t find love, let love find you. That’s why it is called falling in love because you do not force yourself to fall, you just fall.” – Unknown
While in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City), Vietnam, I began to get weak and the EXTREME heat was really getting to me. Covid-19 was ramping up and I was beginning to get scared that I would be unable to get home if my condition worsened. I ended up in a Vietnamese ER one day and I decided then I would need to return home when I could to be near my specialists. If you have been following along, you know I have ITP, an autoimmune disorder. This meant I could not risk catching Covid-19 and my peace of mind by being closer to my doctors would help me tremendously. Shawn was meeting me in Bali the following week and I decided I would stay in South East Asia and fly home with him.
Flashback: November 2019. I was preparing for my grand adventure to South East Asia. Spending time with friends, family, and enjoying my last few weeks in Nashville. I was out with my friend, John, for a drink. I was checking messages on a dating app and a guy staying in my building on a work trip was messaging me. I agreed to have him meet John and me for a drink. Not really expecting much of anything to come from it. Something unique happened in my gut within moments of meeting him. We ended up spending most of his free time together during his time in Nashville. He left town and I could not stop thinking about our chats and the time we spent together. So, I decided to keep texting him. This was much to his surprise as well. We continued to get to know each other over text, calls, and video calls. He drove to Kentucky to see me over the holidays and then drove me to Nashville to catch my flight. I left on my trip and we still continued to learn more about each other. This guy is Shawn. Fast forward…
My time was up in Saigon and I was ready for Bali. I had dreamed of Bali ever since I read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and saw the movie starring Julia Roberts. On my entire trip, I have been learning and trying to find that inner peace. The ability to just be, has long eluded me. My trip to Bali was going to look very different than planned because instead of four weeks I was only going to get one. Yet, I was not sad or upset because I knew the week with Shawn was going to be amazing.
My flight landed, I went through customs and prepared to call my car to pick me up. I turned a corner and there stood Shawn. Instead of a car, he decided to just meet me at the airport. So, there he stood with a cold Coca-Cola in hand. It was such a sweet gesture. We made our way to the resort. Remember, I have been staying in hostels for three months. Shawn had reserved a resort, M.A.N. Resort. I am not gonna lie, I was looking forward to a little luxury. Our room was absolutely beautiful and I knew it was going to be a great stay. Not only was the room perfect, but I also walked into the bedroom and there on the bed was a giant heart made of … GRIPPOs BBQ chips. Now, that is the way to my heart.
Dinner on the beach at sunset. Could it be more perfect? Nope! Shawn and I walked along the beach at sunset on our first night. The colors on the horizon, the soft breeze, and the distant sound of music were all so very much out of a movie. We decided on a quiet beach restaurant with lanterns for lighting, soft pillows for seating, right on the sand. The meal was delightful, the atmosphere was spectacular and the company was perfect.
The heat in Bali was unlike any I have ever experienced. My clothing was instantly drenched within 10 minutes of being outside. There were hot days during most of my trip, but this was a unique kind of hot. I spoke with the owner of the resort and he mentioned it was because they did not have a true rainy season in 2019. So, during the day we usually stayed near the pool. We did do some beach exploring and such, but usually, they were short trips to and from. The beach was almost as stunning during the day as it is at sunset.
It was time for our first excursion that Shawn had planned for us. I spent most of my trip abroad very unplanned. I was learning to let go, but for Shawn, he needed some structure, and to be honest, I did too. Our driver arrived and off we went. We arrived a bit earlier than necessary so he suggested we stop by the nearby coffee plantation for a tour. The two of us do not drink coffee, but we figured why not. Lumbung Sari Pecatu, the staff was brilliant and the drinks were actually pretty good. We did the sampler, free of charge. They just ask that you consider a purchase from the shop. We had all of their coffee and tea options and I must say they were very lovely. The Luwak coffees are interesting and watching them split the bean from the animal feces is something. I would definitely recommend it as a stop.
After leaving the coffee plantation we arrived at the entrance for the Ulawatu Temple tour and Fire Dance. It was so uncomfortably hot that it almost ruined this portion of the trip for me. Luckily, as the sun began to set, it became tolerable. The views from the cliffside temple were out of this world! The temples of Bali are very different from the temples of Thailand. Both beautiful in their own right. There were several services going on while we there and the tourists were plentiful. Everyone seemed to be awaiting the fire dance show. Just a short walk from the temple was an amphitheater on the cliff with perfect sunset views. The performance was the traditional Balinese Kecak and Fire Dance. It depicts the Hindu drama Ramayana, a battle between the monkey-like Vanaras and the evil King Ravana. Usually performed by a chorus of up to 150 men. It was spectacular to watch and the White Monkey stole the show by inserting a lot of humor into his performance. As we were leaving, it began to rain, just in time for our couples massage. This was much needed after the HOT day we had.
The following day Shawn made one of my biggest dreams come true. He booked us a sunset horseback ride on the beach. Horses have long been a passion of mine and in all my years, riding on the beach reigned supreme on my bucket list. Finally, the day had come to make it a reality. There was one other couple who was on our ride and they were very kind. Shawn is very inexperienced when it comes to riding, but he was willing to do this for me. Galloping (check my Instagram for video) through the waves and the freedom I always feel on horseback were awe-inspiring. I could write a whole post just on this one evening but I will spare you. If you ever get the chance to ride horses on the beach at sunset, I highly recommend it. The folks at Kuda P Stables were very nice and accommodating. It was definitely one of the absolute highlights of my time abroad.
The heat was really tying us to the resort and we both wanted to see more of the island. We decided to get order a car and head out on a day adventure. So we landed on a trip to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, in Ubud. It was a beautiful park, the monkeys are very curious and friendly, and yes, it was HOT! This was Shawn’s favorite part of the trip. He even got really up close with some monkey friends and he squealed. It was adorably hilarious. The park was not crowded, we were able to really take our time and explore. It was beautiful and the day was amazing.
Falling in love is weird, tricky, and fantastic. It can be confusing, scary, and wonderful. This journey to the other side of the world was meant to teach me to let go. I wanted to learn to just let life take me where it will. Over time and distance, I knew I loved Shawn. On this trip, it became clear I had fallen in love. Now, we are on an incredible new journey. Stay Tuned!