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Bali Diaries 🏝️

My first solo trip to Ubud ⌇ December 7–14, 2023

Despite the initial resistance, I slip back into travel like a second skin. Perhaps it’s because I grew up doing it — I traveled to 20+ countries before I turned 25 — but it felt easy, effortless, even after four years away.

Navigating my way around the airport. Handling security check. Making friends with my seat mate. “Where are you heading to?” she asked. 

“Ubud,” I smiled. “Alone.”

“OMGGGGGG! That’s SO brave,” she said. “I could never do that.”

That’s what I thought, too. Until I did.


At the Airbnb, I was led up a steep staircase to my room.

When I first glimpsed the balcony, I gasped. This was the exact room I’d been manifesting! I’d booked the room on the ground floor on a trigger-happy decision, but the one I secretly wanted was this one.

“Are you sure?” I asked Kadek, the house mother, tears glistening in my eyes.

She nodded. She was so kind. She made me feel right at home.

The room opens up to the most magnificent view of a Frangipani tree in full bloom. I twirl around the room, laughing. Miracles happen when you get out of your comfort zone. This trip has had no shortage of them so far.


My tummy was rumbling, but I was dying for a shower. By the time I hit the streets, it was nearly 3:30PM — five hours since my last meal. 

I wandered up the street, marveling at the perfect symmetry of entrance gates; the stone lions baring their teeth. I found myself standing in front of a staircase dotted with orange flowers. It looked like a stairway to heaven. 

I glanced up, and spotted the name: SUN SUN WARUNG.


This was the exact recommendation my seat mate on the plane had given me. 😮

I couldn’t go up the stairs fast enough.

It was the perfect first meal.


Full from arak and nasi campur tinged blue for the ‘gram, I was almost too content to stand. The server came over with the bill. 

“Here, a gift for you,” she smiled, handing me a bracelet. I’d noticed it adorning the wrists of locals and tourists alike: a thin, treaded bracelet woven from yarn of 3 different colors: black, white and red. Tri Datu.

“This bracelet was blessed in the temple before being brought here,” she said, showing me hers. I felt a rush of gratitude so profound, I could hardly speak. 

“Will you put it on for me?” I asked, shyly.

Her nimble little fingers tied the knot on extra tight. ✷

That night, picking up my GrabFood delivery (what a novelty!) from the driver, he gestured at my bracelet. Cantik,” he grinned, showing all his teeth. Beautiful.

It made me feel like a local. It made me feel like I belong.


I never thought my first trip after four years would be to Bali. When I decided to embark on this adventure — a whopping five days before my flight 😂 — I had no idea what to expect. I had no itinerary. No plans. Just a backpack and a dream, that I would find myself again.

In Bali, the sun sets by 6pm, and you’re in total darkness by 7. There is a heat and stickiness that no amount of showers can wash away. I am constantly dripping in sweat; constantly hungry; constantly on the verge of sunburn. 

But I’m also content. The people are friendly. The food is divine. The tourists are annoying, but bearable. I forget, sometimes, that I am one too.

I assimilated so quickly that by the second night, standing in line for ecstatic dance with my new friends from Italy, Indonesia and Korea, the latter remarked:

“What! You’re new!? I thought you were a local!” ✷ 

That’s the thing about Bali: it is a transient place. People are either there to party, heal, sometimes both, but never in one place.

After the novelty of travel wore off, the days started to bleed together. Going out for meals or wandering around town lost its luster. All the new friends I’d made — through cafés and yoga and ecstatic dance — had left the town for greener, more touristic pastures.

When the moon was in Scorpio and all my darkest thoughts came out to play, I found myself splayed out like a starfish in one of the most decadent massage villas I’d ever found myself in — and wishing I was anywhere but there.

I wanted to be home. I wanted to be with people who loved me. I craved comfort, stability. I felt driftless, unmoored. I felt like a piece of rock, floating through the frantic tide of humanity on this tiny little island, and I had a sudden, desperate thought that if I died here, so far away from everyone and everything I’ve ever loved, it would be devastating. 


Turns out, this bout of existentialism is par for course for every solo traveler.


When you are alone — wholly, intimately alone — for a long while, you start to hear yourself… possibly for the first time.

I got to know the contours of my personality; the texture of my inner voice. She communicates not in yells or shouts, but whispers and nudges; a twist of the gut, a pang in my chest. I learned to fulfill her needs, to know that they are not ‘silly’ or ‘superfluous’ but rather, necessary for my own sanity. 

When I was lonely, I called someone. When I was bored, I wandered around the streets. When I was sad, I allowed myself to cry.


For the first 5 nights, I kept my Spotify permanently blaring; so terrified I was of being alone with my thoughts.

In my final two nights, however, I settled into a companionable silence. ✷ 

The day before the Sagittarius New Moon, I had the best day of my entire trip. 

My friend Ani lives on the outskirts of Ubud, and invited me to spend the day with her. I took a Gojek out to see her, winding through small village roads. 

Her house was a cute lil cul-de-sac, with a thriving garden and gorgeous art on the walls. We had a delicious home-cooked feast: fried tempeh, hard-boiled eggs, vegetable curry, and sautéed soy sauce mushrooms that were to die for.

“It’s been four years! How are you?” she cooed.

“Do you still do empathy work?”

“Not quite,” I grinned. “I’m an astrologer now.”

As I caught her up on my whirlwind year-long journey, I marveled at how far I’ve come in just a year. This time in 2022, I was fresh out of Level 2 of Astrology school. I’d just given my first reading to a stranger, and had just started posting regularly on Instagram

One year later, and I’m in Bali, taking my first solo trip and talking about my full-fledged Astro biz with an old friend.

“I just crossed the 80-reading milestone,” I smiled. She gasped and cheered.

Life truly is wild sometimes. 🏹


We changed and headed to the waterfall near her house. To get there, we needed to climb down a steep flight of stairs. The afternoon sun beat down as she turned: “Let me snap a photo of you!”. 

I marveled at this show of solidarity — I didn’t have anyone to take photos of me this past week. No one to cook me meals or take me on walks or simply listen. Companionship is so important to me, and this trip has shown me that

I will never take it for granted again.

The waterfall was majestic even in low tide. We let the water pour down on us; beating, cleansing. “This is the Balinese art of water purification,” she said.

I closed my eyes; the water a drumbeat on my neck, my back, my chest. I let my fears and worries and loneliness swirl away. “I call in a life of adventure,” I say.

I forget I am already living it. ✷


I woke up before the sun today. I sat and watched the sky lighten with streaks of blue before finally giving way to the light. Last night, I had a big epiphany about my life. It rocked everything. And I was sitting in the aftermath today.

Sadness and grief is something I have avoided my whole life. I would walk through fire, jump through hoops, take the long way around and then some, just to avoid being in this state.

This trip has taught me I cannot outrun the hurt. The pain. The loneliness.

I can only sit with it, and let it make a home in me.

And eventually, when it has had its fill, it will leave. 

And the cycle repeats again. 🌀

I am holding space for myself, perhaps for the first time in my life. That is the point of this solo trip, I realize:

I am coming home to me.

“Hi, do you know what the WiFi password is?”

The friendly blonde girl looks up from her laptop, smiling. “Of course! Here you go.”

I thank her, and return to my seat. 

Moments later, she approaches me with a card.

“A stranger gave this to me yesterday, and I wanted you to have it,” she says.

The card stock is thick, the font simple. It says: 

I hope something wonderful happens to you today.

I cannot hold back my tears. I thank her with trembling hands. 

I slip the card into my breast pocket, right over my heart.

It already did, I think, thanks to you. 


Thank you for reading!

This is an excerpt from my Substack newsletter, The Asian Astrologer, that I update every 1–2 weeks 🥰 If you enjoy my writing, consider becoming a subscriber there.

Much love to you always! Thanks for coming along my first solo trip.

with love & stardust,

— The Asian Astrologer


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