When your Instagram is cool but your thoughts are just regular (Gili T, Indonesia)



Travelling, in general, is a lot of things. It’s humbling and eye-opening and grounding. It reminds you what’s important; what you actually care about and what you think you’re supposed to care about. It brings out sides of yourself you’ve chosen to hide or never even knew you had.

Travelling Indonesia has also been a lot of things – starting with absoluuuutely amazing. The food is insanely good, the heat is mind blowing, the culture is unique and the sunsets are out of this world. And yeah – every single day I’m in awe that this is my life. I’ll write in my journal about feeling free and independent and so appreciative of my place in the world. I’ll feel those eye-opening, grounding, humbling feelings and smile for no reason because LOOK AT THIS LIFE! And then I’ll immediately stress about my bank account or have a sudden internal panic about the future. So, we’ll pop a Bintang and laugh about life’s misfortunes. We’ll sit on the beach ignoring the ‘life is beautiful’ moment and instead recount Uni keggers and that time we somehow lost the shoes we were wearing while still at the bar (which like, actually though. How did that happen?)

And I love this. I fucking love that there are so many un-cliche things about travelling. That we can explore the world and be all #Wanderlust and #yolo and still just be people, feeling shit and talking about meaningless things and giving life a try.

And SO, in true travel blogger style, I bring you a round-up of my top 7. Because sure, I’m “living the dream”, but I’m still just people, feeling my own shit and giving life my own little try. Behind all the photos that couldn’t capture how beautiful it actually was; behind the wavy hair and sandy toes and inspiring conversations; behind all of that, these are the top 7 thoughts I’ve had in Indonesia:

Does my body look weird?

We’re drinking a traditional Lombok coffee in this funky little beach hut, staring at crystal blue water and listening to some dude playing the Ukelele. This breeze is blowing my hair around in such a comforting way and my legs are tanned and I just bought a bracelet for a dollar and life has never had such a picture-perfect setting. I look at Sabrina. She looks at me. We smile at each other.

“Does my body look weird right now?” I ask.

Like, why. WHY is this what I’m thinking about in this beautiful place in this beautiful moment. But it was, because I’m a regular, self-deprecating, second-guessing HUMAN BEING. And this doesn’t change when you go to Indonesia. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s actually the beauty of travelling, in my opinion. Being your own person in a new, cool spot. Like, you can’t wake up every morning and regale in the idea that you’re so damn lucky to be alive. You can know that, sure. I do know that. But I still think my body looks weird sometimes. And it probably does, and that’s probably okay.

Is there anything that might kill me?  

This isn’t Indonesia specific – moreso just a thought I’ve had every morning for the past 27 years that I’m continuing to have here. So far, so good.  

How much money is that? 

Blame it on the beer, the heat, or a general ignorance around how different currencies work, but man oh MAN I have never struggled this much at figuring out a foreign currency – which is embarrassing, because the Indonesian Rupiah is actually crazy easy to convert over to Canadian. Regardless, I just kind of hand over a wad of bills and ask them if that’s right – aka I’m probably getting ripped off left right and centre and will never know the difference.

Does he like me?

I mean, I really don’t think he does. And that’s a bummer. But you know what they say: EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON! And if anything in life was different , I would not be in this setting in this moment with this person. And I’m so  insanely glad that I am. So, this internal heartbreak is simply another reason to pop another Bintang and enjoy those views – but even though I know this, that doesn’t mean we don’t hash away at this topic ten times a day.

Does anyone like me?

I mean, some people die alone. They just do. Who’s to say that won’t be my own fate? But you know what they say: EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON! Read above for the rest of this thought.

Is it possible to sweat away into nothing?

I’ve had this thought once before in my life:  the first and only time I ever did hot yoga (which is an activity I will never understand the appeal of. I truly think it killed a piece of my sanity that I will never get back). Within minutes of the class starting I was drenched and delirious from the heat. Like, I couldn’t control my eyeballs. They were just these balls rolling around aimlessly in my head, loosened by the buckets of sweat pouring down my face. I must’ve had some dirt or something on my leg, but I thought it was a freckle. And as I went to grab my ankle during whatever warrior/bamboo stick/downward goddess pose we happened to be doing, the dirt rubbed away and I panicked, thinking all of the freckles were sweating off of my body.

Needless to say, they weren’t, which led to a pretty embarrassing convo with my yoga instructor and also leads me to believe I won’t sweat away into nothing here, either. But holy shit. This heat is crazy, and I think about it often.

Holy. Fuck.

Gili T is a tiny, 7km, car-free island – so to get around, everyone relies on the heel-toe express or a bicycle. My bike is purple. The road is bumpy and there are patches of sand which are impossible to get through , but biking is still the quickest and most satisfying way to get around.

After some sunset Bintang and a deliciously cheap street food dinner, we headed our bikes toward home, coming to this part in the trail in between villas. All we could see was the patch of road 2 feet in front of us, illuminated by our tiny, crooked bike lights and a massive starry sky, and all you could hear was the ocean waves (or is it the sea? I know alarmingly little about where in the world I am right now) and the sound of our bike tires in the dirt. And it was so beautiful and surreal and I had this overwhelming feeling of like, holy fuck. Who would have thought I would ever be in this moment; biking under the stars on this tiny Indonesian island with Sabrina Benzinger – a person I’ve known for years but really only ‘known’ for what, a few months? The world just happened to throw us together in a really wild and wonderful way. And fuck man. This is what it was all about. Everything else aside – the body issues and the boy problems and the lack of knowing anything about what the next few months would bring – like, fuck it. All of it. Every single decision I’ve made in life led me to that moment of biking with nothing but the stars and ocean/sea with me. And that means every decision has been the right one, and everything is taking me exactly where I need to be. And I can only assume this will remain the case.   

So no – I don’t have a final, life-altering phrase on how travelling will change you and make you appreciate the little things in life (even if that’s kind of true). What I do have is the reassurance that every cool travel photo and every #Wanderlust #Yolo is covered in emotions, both good and bad; in insecurities and regular bullshit feelings. But that’s cool. Because holy fuck. Look at all the places your little two feet can take you while carrying all those things along.

SO unbelievably worth it.



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