Last year I came across a post on Hacker News about a startup called The Caravanserai which was attempting to create a global co-living and co-working community and whose name evoked images of travelers on the Silk Road in ages past. I signed up to be a beta tester and promptly forgot about it. In January, I got an unexpected email from someone at The Caravanserai about coming to their soon-to-be-opened location in Bali in March. I also discovered that they had renamed the company to Roam. Apparently caravanserai was too hard to say and spell. I think I agree.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Indonesia before I came here. I knew it was an island country somewhere between Australia and Thailand and that it was an international surfing destination. I did a little research, found a reasonably priced flight to Bali via Tokyo and Singapore, and decided to go for it. I signed up for Roam for the full month of March and started packing my bags while dreaming about the sun and warmth of Bali.
The end of February approaching, I headed to good ol’ GSP airport. After my 14 hour flight to Tokyo from Portland, I had a too-short 20 minute layover and boarded my next flight to Singapore. I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity to visit Singapore again, so I decided to stay there for a couple of days to visit and begin getting over my jet lag. I liked Singapore more than I expected.
The flight to Bali was only a couple of hours. Roam had arranged a driver to pick me up from the airport to take me to Roam in Ubud, situated towards the center of the island. It was my first time having someone at the airport holding a sign for me! The drive to Ubud was not far, but it took about two hours due to traffic in Denpasar, the capital city. I had seen videos of the scooters and motorbikes so prevalent in Southeast Asian countries, but this was my first time actually driving amongst them.
When we arrived at Roam, I was shown to my chic comfortable air-conditioned room where I promptly fell asleep in the middle of the day (not over the jet lag yet). I awoke in time to have dinner at a nearby warung, a traditional Balinese open-air restaurant, and had some excellent fresh food and a Bintang (Indonesian Heineken). I settled down in my room and started working through the night. One of the only downsides of living here is the 12-13 hour time difference with the United States.
Since that first day, I have:
-Participated in a local temple ceremony dressed in a batik (sarong), sash, and headband. Afterwards we watched a traditional Balinese dance.
-Watched the Ogoh-Ogoh parade the night before Nyepi
-Participated in Nyepi Day (Balinese new year) by keeping the lights off, and quietly sharing dinner with the other members of Roam (affectionately called Roamies)
-Climbed Mount Batur at sunrise, hiking through volcanic steam around the caldera
-Surfed for the first time in Canggu (way harder than it looks, and it looks hard)
Now I’m sad to be leaving Bali but happy to have met so many interesting people and to have been a part of such a rich culture. I’m also grateful for having the opportunity a new way of life that is certainly the future of living and working at Roam.