First week in Lombok -

Just a couple weeks ago, I had never even heard of Lombok. Luckily, a friend I made in Singapore recommended it to me. He suggested that I skip all the touristy hustle and bustle in Bali and go straight to Lombok. He was absolutely right. I still plan to go to Bali towards the tail end of my trip, but I fell in love with Lombok so much that I extended my stay here.

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The vibe on this island is just what I needed. The locals and the travelers passing through have all been amazing and kind - and just in a week, I’ve already made some incredible friendships. Not to mention, the island overall is simply gorgeous. Whenever I hop on my scooter and cruise around enjoying the sights, I find myself with the biggest smile on my face.

So far my first week has been filled with:

  • Beach bumming

  • Surfing

  • Hiking/camping the crater rim of Mount Rinjani (more to come on this later)

  • Literally chasing waterfalls

I was supposed to leave for Bali today but I plan to get some extra surfing in and also enjoy the peaceful vibe before I head to Bali to do the usual Bali things…

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When I say the last couple days have been rough...

I mean they have been ROUGH! To keep it as lean as possible, here is a summary:

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  • I show up to the airport on Thursday 3/21 to depart to Bali then have a panic attack because I can’t locate my flight. I then discover I’ve actually booked my flight for 3/28 instead.

  • I frantically run around the airport looking for next flights outs but the cheapest option is the next day departing at 5am. I decide to just stay in the airport overnight.

  • I land in Bali but then have to frantically head to the ferry port in order to catch a boat to Lombok. I catch a 2 hour boat to Lombok but then discover my hostel is another solid 2 hours car ride away. As you can tell, I did not prepare for this very well at all.

  • Additionally, my SIM card that is supposed to work in Indonesia is somehow not working so I’m essentially doing this off of blind faith from the locals. I 100% got ripped off on a few deals here and there but whatever.

I’ve finally made it to my hostel and you guessed it, it is beer time. I’ll do my best to post pictures throughout vaca as best as I can.

Surf’s up…

An extreme dramatization of my surfing abilities. I’ll be on a longboard riding waves 1/4 of the size pictured here lol.

An extreme dramatization of my surfing abilities. I’ll be on a longboard riding waves 1/4 of the size pictured here lol.

I put pen-to-paper on my condo lease last night! Move-in date is technically not until April 1st, so I am hopping on a plane to Indonesia today for 2.5 weeks in the meantime! The plan is to spend about a week in Lombok, an island just off the coast of Bali, which is known for its surfing. This is only my second time surfing and the last time I went was basically a year ago in Costa Rica. I’m hoping a week will be enough time to shake off the rust and hopefully get even better. Now that I’m in SE Asia, I want to get better at surfing since it’s a more feasible option than snowboarding now.

After Lombok I’ll head back to Bali to spend some time there. I don’t really have a set agenda just yet; I plan to play it by ear. Since I’ve been volunteering at the hostel, condo shopping, and adjusting to the new time zone, I’m looking forward to finally being able to relax and reset. Once I come back to Singapore, I plan to conquer a few goals I’ve set for myself. More to come on that later…

Culture Shock (or lack thereof)

So I just realized I haven’t written much about my adjustment to Singapore in general. For those who are following me on social media, I’m sure it seems that all I’ve been doing is wandering the city and eating and drinking (you are not far off!), but here are some quick bullets about what I’ve had to adjust to:

“Singlish.” I found this meme on Facebook last night which is actually hilariously accurate.

“Singlish.” I found this meme on Facebook last night which is actually hilariously accurate.

  • Metric system: when I speak in feet, miles, or degrees Fahrenheit I get looked at like an imbecile. Seriously, America…why do we do this???

  • People drive on the left side of the road. I keep looking the wrong way before I cross the street, but this is something I already got a taste of in my trip to London recently.

  • People stand on the left of the escalator and walk on the right (same story as previous bullet applies).

  • The heat…or the A/C, actually. Yes, Singapore is hot, but since the bus and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is so well connected and air-conditioned, I rarely find myself dying in the heat. When I stop in a cafe or restaurant, it’s actually too cold sometimes and I welcome the heat when I step back outside.

  • “Singlish.” A few of you have been asking if it’s difficult to communicate with people. English is still the first language here, but locals have adopted what they call “Singlish.” It’s a particular accent/style and they have a few slang words that I’m still trying to get used to.

All in all - I have no real complaints so far. Of course, it’s only been a week and I’m still in “tourist mode,” but I’m sure I’ll hit some culture shock later down the road as this place slowly starts to feel more like home.

OK LIAO!!!

Things are moving along nicely...

It’s only day 3 here in Singapore and I’m happy (and relieved) to say that I’ve figured out my phone situation and more importantly, I’ve found housing already! I’ll be rooming with 2 others in a condo complex that’s centrally located to almost everything. The room has an awesome balcony view and the complex also has several pools, a gym, and a bbq area. And the very best part? It’s cheaper than what I would be paying if I chose to live in Arlington/DC back home. The internet always drags on about how expensive Singapore is, but if you do your homework correctly, there’s a lot of affordable options.

The only catch is that I won’t be able to move in until April 1st or after. Housekeeping duties at the current hostel are getting old very fast, so it looks like I’ll be taking an extended vacation here to kill some time and relax a bit. Time to go flight shopping for Bali…

I'm alive my friends...

After ~25 hours of travel I managed to sleepily make it to my hostel.  For the short-term, I’ll be volunteering for 4 hours a day at Happy Snail Hostel in exchange for a free bed.  This will allow me to save some cash while I adjust to the time zone, figure out my phone situation, find permanent housing, etc.  I’m just responsible for taking care of check-ins/outs and basic housekeeping.  Aside from my endless war with the fitted sheets, the work is easy enough.

Outside of volunteering and getting set up with the basic necessities, my current priority is just to eat.  I made my way to Maxwell Hawker Centre in Chinatown and got a few good bites.  I plan to check out the other famous hawkers in the next few days.  

If you haven’t already, give my food IG a follow (@GrubbinOnTheLam)! As a side gig I’m trying to become famous so I can eat for free - so please support my dreams. :P

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As I sit in Dulles Airport...

…waiting to board my flight, I’m a little surprised by my emotions.  I thought that by now I’d be filled with nerves and anxiety, maybe even fear, but in reality, I truly cannot think of the last time I was this calm about…anything.  

It was truly a beautiful moment when I realized I no longer had to participate in the same zombie-like routine anymore. 

  1. Wake up at 6:40am

  2. Angrily snooze for 20 minutes

  3. Sit in mind-numbing traffic on Route 66

  4. Work

  5. Sit in mind-numbing traffic on Route 66 again

  6. Lay on my couch and do nothing because I expended all my mental energy for the day

  7. Repeat

I have other things on my mind now.  How am I going to get to the hostel I’m staying at?  What do I eat?  When am I going to secure housing?  So many details of the next phase of my life are unknown at the moment, but it’s so refreshing knowing that each and every day ahead of me is going to be unique and present new challenges for me.