Monday, July 26, 2010

That's All, Folks!

Davo and I left New Zealand three weeks ago.  Three weeks.  Twenty-one days.  I've been in four countries in less than a month.  Crazy.  Indonesia has been great, but lately I have done a lot of thinking about where I'm going, when I'm going there, and what I'm going to do once I'm there.

These questions raise others...  why I'm wandering, how I want to wander, and what I hope to give and get from this experience (oh, and how the hell to negotiate all of this with a partner).

Getting to the point...

ONE:  I don't like traveling.  You read that right:  I dislike suffering through bus rides, buying place tickets, figuring out where I'm going to sleep every night, and all of the other crap that goes with being on-the-move and gets in the way of being fully present in a place.

TWO:  I'm not doing too well with being a tourist.  I can't handle rolling into a town, well-thumbed Lonely Planet in hand, to "do" a place, checking off each of LP's "must see/ do/ eat/ sleep" locations.  I really can't handle being herded onto a shuttle bus with 20 other white people to drive to a national park, step outside, take two pictures, and drive on.

THREE:  I think I need to find a new way to travel.  Right now I'm in Ubud, the second most tourist-friendly place on Bali.  In the city, the only people who talk to me are the guys who want me to buy a taxi ride.  Shifting gears (literally), Davo and I took a bike ride into the countryside this afternoon.  EVERYONE said hello.  EVERYONE smiled.  Little kids chased my bike down a hill.  I don't want to be anonymous in a tourist city.  I want to stay in one place for a while, get to know someone and someplace.

And a few thoughts about travel blogging:

FOUR:  I don't find blogging to be useful.  Just because every other traveler out there has a travel blog doesn't mean I need one, too.  I'm not kidding myself--a 200-word post on wayang kulit or some place that I visit isn't going to broaden anyone's horizons.  If you want to broaden your horizons, get up off your ass and go to Indonesia, or wherever it is that you've always wanted to go.  The only thing holding you back is that you haven't bought your plane ticket yet.

FIVE:  I don't find blogging to be a rewarding form of introspection.  I'm very conscious that these words I write can be seen by everyone, everywhere.  I write very differently, and about different subjects, when I'm writing for an audience.  Sadly, my personal writing has suffered quite a bit on this trip.  I simply won't make the time to write both a public journal and a personal journal.  I'd have to sit in an internet cafe for hours per day.  I left Ithaca so I wouldn't have to sit in front of a computer for hours on end.  And what's the point of a new experience if it's viewed through the lens of "how will I blog about this?"

SIX:  In a weird way, I'm sick of having even the slightest feeling that I'm doing something for the viewing and/or approval of others.  I don't want to write this to show off what I'm doing.  I'm not cooler than you are, and I don't think that I am.  I don't write to rub it in that my life is more interesting and exciting than yours.  It's probably not.  Maybe I'm just sick of being part of the Facebook generation.

SEVEN:  This blog does not provide an accurate representation of what it's like to travel for an extended period of time.  Really, you don't get it (unless, dear reader, you are on a journey of your own).  I don't write about the awful public transport experiences, or the times that I've had to walk around the same woman begging on the street for a third time, or seeing tooth decay in a young child, or the times that Dave and I can't seem to communicate clearly to each other, or the times that I'm just sick of it all, homesick, feeling like all my friends have forgotten about me and moved on with their lives.  I write about the good stuff because that's the easiest to process and to share.  I take pretty pictures so I can remember the good parts, because dealing with the bad parts is pretty tough.  Besides, I hate the feeling of voyeurism, that the rich white woman with the digital camera is taking a picture of the filth, the poor, the worst of a developing country to show her friends at home, "Yes, I survived this."  I know exactly how I would feel if I were begging on the street and a rich white woman stopped to take a picture of me.

Maybe I'm reading too much into my experiences.  Maybe I'm looking for lessons and generalizations where there are none to be had.  Maybe I'm just cynical.  But I think I'm done with the tourist thing.  And I'm especially done with writing into the void of the internet for armchair spectators at best and no one at worst (or should it be the other way around?).  Writing about myself feels like a form of vanity at this point.  Most importantly, I think narcissistic writing for no one and everyone is incompatible with the type of wandering I hope to have the privilege to experience over the coming months.  If you want to know where I am or how I'm doing, please ask.  I miss you.  Otherwise, this will be the last post about our One Great Dewdrop for a while.

P.S.  I will continue to post photography at  Even though I have a crappy camera, photography is one of my two favorite forms of self-expression.


  1. "If you want to know where I am or how I'm doing, please ask."

    Hey lady, how do I reach you now? I can't call you (inexpensively) and I've emailed you a few times and have gotten no response. Your blog was the only way I knew you were alive and relatively well - and admittedly, it was one-sided...cuz I can't really have a conversation with you in this blog.

    I would love to hear your voice, the full story of your adventures- good and bad - the real stuff. Are you "skype-able"?

    Alternately, if you don't want to be reachable by me, then please let me know. My personal email is (you know my work email address).

    Thinking of you!
    Chris Balestra

  2. Nicole,
    One Great Dewdrop icon has an auspicious location on my browser toolbar...right next to the TOI website that i must update regularly. When i visit your posts, i send a silent prayer of thanksgiving towards you,Dave and all you it human, animal or natural encounters. Some of us may never take the journey that you're currently on...some of us may take it through the mundane cirucumstances of our lives. I hope that your journeys, from now on, are ones that find peace to all...whether you document them on paper, on a blog, or only on your heart.