I thought that last year would be my year of travel but it turns out to have been this one. So far I have been to Marrakech, Rome, Paris, Lisbon, Bali, and now I’m in Singapore.
I remembered, on the beach in Bali, that not that long ago days out in Brighton felt a stretch.
I am glad that things can change.
I have been thinking about the things that I want to take away from here with me because, in the same way that London has mysteriously faded, I know that the skyscrapered skyline and blanketing heat that have become home will soon feel like a world away.
So many things.
In Bali, I watched the waves breaking as they hit a reef. First one end, and then the other, they met in the middle like a fuse. The sea was as warm as a bath and I had forgotten how fun it was to let yourself be carried by the waves. At night and under the moon, the sea was more exotic. In the day, it made me feel carefree; at night I felt seduced.
A monkey stole my boyfriend’s glasses at Ulu Wata, where we were visiting a temple perched on a cliff. He thinks that they were trained but I felt like the rules were different there. As though we’d stepped into a magical place. As though our arrogance is slightly silly. In England or on the sidewalks of central Singapore, it is easy to think that it is our world; in the sweltering rain forests, or above the crashing sea, or surrendered by swinging and leaping monkeys, it is less so.
On the first night, we chose bowls full of fish and then ate them, barbecued in banana leaves, with the tide licking the tables in front. We drunk cocktails on the second night, lounged on sofas above the beach and with the murmur of heat in the background.
On the Saturday, we drove to Ubud. Slowly, along teeming roads filled with mopeds and trucks of people, and through incomprehensible towns that were filled with shopfronts and falling down buildings and statues and temples. In the middle of the town, we walked through rice paddies where the green was only broken by the flare of multicoloured scarecrows or the occasional picturesque house.
So many things.
The taxis smelled of lemon incense.
In the morning, the air hummed and vibrated with birdsong from birds that I rarely saw.
The statues were wrapped in checked fabric. The roofs, curved and slanted. The buildings, alternating between ramshackle and ornate.
The pavements were slippery with heat and, in the evening, the air was smokey from the fires amongst the scrub.
In the forest, the monkeys ran and climbed silently. Their cackles and snarls made me jump.
Night fell dark and thick and hot.
There are very few things that beat watching the waves crash on the shore with a glass of wine and people that you love.