JAKARTA – This story physically starts off in Jakarta, Indonesia, but technically it really started June 24th 2011 in Warrenton, Virginia. I was attending the grand opening and Anti-Gravity master  training at the Vertical Girl Fitness Studio in Virginia. My good friend & colleague Bonnie invited me to come out and participate. That’s where I met the creator and master trainer Christopher Harrison. That first night we all went to have dinner together at a Middle Eastern spot chosen by Bonnie. On that fateful trip to the restaurant I starter talking to Chris about his many travels. One of the many questions I asked him was, “What is the most amazing and beautiful place you have ever been to?” His answer was with no equivocations, “Ubud!”

Jessica (I think), Bonnie and Chris

Jessica (I think), Bonnie and Chris

Up until that point I had never heard of this place. I had to inquire further. Once I saw the bright expression on his face and felt the energy in his description on how delightful this place was I immediately Googled it and when I saw the pictures I had no breath in my longs to express my amazement of how beautiful it was. As soon as I could catch a breath I told Chris and everyone who would listen that I would be there. I think my exact words were, “I don’t know when, but I am definitely going to Ubud!” Didn’t realize it’d be so soon.

Since the day I heard of this place I have been trying to find an excuse to get there. Enter the internet. I met a girl on the internet. Its 2011, get over it. She actually lives and works out of Abu Dhabi (UAE). She is from Canada. Through a series of emails, messenger chats, & expensive phone calls we got to know each other rather well over a period of 3 months. One day within those three months I suggested that we meet. I told her, “Name a place, I’ll meet you anywhere in the world.” I meant it. Befuddled with a myriad of choices I tickled her ear with the notion of Bali. It was a winner. Soon after the trip was booked and in a month or so we’d be in Bali. Crazy it seems to meet on these circumstances. I just thought it’d be adventurous. How right I’d be was not a concern, but the type of surprises I got were not expected. Let the adventure commence.

We were to meet in Jakarta and stay for a night. Then we would catch a flight to Bali the next day. The plan was to get separate rooms and go from there. What ensued is one of the main reasons I don’t plan that far ahead. My flight arrived in Jakarta about 45 minutes earlier than hers. I didn’t do too much research on visas and what not so it was a surprise to me that there was a $25 charge to enter the country. No worries, I just walked over to the ATM to get the necessary rupiah (Indonesian currency). I paid it and patiently awaited the arrival of Desirae. I failed to mention her name at first, but the story is all true so what the hell.

Jakarta’s airport is straight out of the 60’s. There was little way of me knowing that her flight had been delayed from Abu Dhabi. I waited for damn near two hours and then I said, “Fcuk it.” and caught a cab to the hotel. Not before I visited the ATM one last time for cab fare. I remember thinking to myself the first time I used the machine that I almost left my card inside the machine and that it would have been terrible if I’d have done so. Well… that thought came to existence because that is exactly what I did the second time I used the ATM. Of course I wouldn’t notice this until I made it all the way to the hotel. If you don’t already know, Jakarta traffic is probably some of the worst in the world. It is insane how bad it is. It took almost an hour to get to a destination that wasn’t really that far.

Jakarta Traffic

Back to my dilemma at hand… I was in the business office upstairs when I discovered I was in some deep shit. I walked down to see if I could use their phone to call the airport when I saw Desirae with my own eyes for the first time. I didn’t know at first that it was her. Lets just say that in this case the camera actually shed pounds. She knew it was me right off. I had to un-bug my eyes and escape my Shallow Hal moment for a second just to speak. I think my voice cracked a bit as I spoke. This was not really a deal breaker because I’m not really shallow; but If you know me then you know I’m not used to that. I explained my situation to her, and to her credit she actually tried to help me resolve the situation. We tried to have Chase Bank  ship me a card, but they were wholly uncooperative. She finally just said that she’d loan me some money and cover some expenses until I could find a way to get her the money. I thought that was nice of her. Fast-Forward to the next day.

After one decent night, glimpses of this woman’s true character started peaking out. It seemingly became clearer to me the moment we landed in Bali. A dear friend of mine, Valou, had put me in contact with on of the best people I was ever to meet in life Gusti Brada. We were in contact via Facebook briefly before arriving to Bali. Bali is an island with several villages and districts. As aforementioned I was all set on going to Ubud. From some source unknown to me she told me that Ubud was only good for a day trip. “A bunch of rice fields and grass.” is what she muttered. I must have given her my signature cocked eyebrow at the time and just dismissed it. I figured I’d be able to sway her one way or another to stay in Ubud longer. The only thing she was really interested in was the palm reader from that movie “Eat, Pray, Love” I will discuss that movie and its wackness in full detail later. If I’d have watched it I’d have know right off who this was I was traveling with.

Me and Gusti instantly took to one another. Kindred spirits. Then enter Desirae. She has a habit of sticking out her bottom lip like a spoiled little kid. It was off-putting. Gusti asked us where we’d like to go. She said Kuta Beach. I could immediately tell from Gusti that this was not what he wanted to do. I could tell he wanted to show us the REAL Bali, but he succumbed… er we succumbed. I had no choice because I was still stuck in a moneyless situation. This is when I got the true Desirae. We hadn’t booked a hotel before arriving so we had to search. As it turns out, it didn’t matter where we went because none of the accommodations would suit her “standards.” Let me say this, the grounds of each and every place we went to were amazing. Every one. The rooms, were a bit quaint but it was to be expected since she said the budget was from $60 – $90 USD. We went to at least 10 different hotels and it was getting to be very cumbersome.

Kuta Beach Main Road near 2005 bomb site

We finally decided on a place that was probably in the middle as far as standards from what we were looking at. I can understand not staying at a place of your choosing (most of the hotels were booked) but what she was doing was extreme. I thought at first she was playing around, but then I saw that she was really anal about it. She put a pashmina scarf on top of the pillow before she slept and would not let the sheets touch her face. It was a sight to see as it looked as if she thought she was going to be eaten by something. It was not even close to being that bad. I thought she was being a bit snobbish.

Kuta Beach Night Life

The next couple of days were a blur really. I got a motorbike and went out on my own most of the time. I met a couple of her friends who traveled with her to Bali. Now I understood. These cats in the UAE are banking hard! Its normal to make $6,000 a month there. The dude I met and probably her too, are making about $15,000 a month in oil and gas. In Abu Dhabi they are used to having lavish parties where they’d easily spend a few grand a night and up to 20 grand on a good night. They looked at the locals as nothing more than peasants and servants. I know this because she whispered to me, “These are the same people that we use as maids. Everybody gets an Indonesian maid.” I played it off for what it was worth, but that was their collective attitude the time I spent with them. I thought to myself, she is a full on snob!

Kuta Square (Best part of Kuta)

So I started thinking to myself, “How the fcuk can I get away from this situation.” I was literally not spending any time with her outside of one night there where she expressed to me what has happened to her in the past. She said that dudes would use her for her money and she was always the one paying for everything. I felt awkward then. I wasn’t purposely there on her tab, but shit happened. So I made it a point not to ask for anything. I was just thinking of a way out of this awful situation. I was enjoying my time a bit, but it was wearing on both of us I could tell. Finally she voiced it in a manner to which she felt that I was her charity case. I thought to myself, “Finally, I don’t have to say it.” I literally took whatever she said and used it as an opportunity to split. Gusti was coming the next morning anyway and I’d be out of there. I had enough money presumably to last me until I could figure out my situation. I was cordial the rest of the night as I lasted out my prison sentence and broke free with Gusti in the morning knowing full well I’d never see her again.

Temple at Kuta Square

I’m trying to judge anyone, but the way she treated the countless hotel staff and the comments she made to me behind the back of the locals made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe I didn’t pick up on the snobbishness of this girl via email. I’m a pretty good judge of character. Alas she probably concealed that in the same manner she took those close up cleverly angled pictures of herself to hide the girth. I’m not small by no means, but I’m not around looking for cream puffs and chocolate croissants everywhere I turn either.

As soon as I was in the car with my good friend Gusti I felt so relieved. Not knowing what was in store or how I’d make it we embarked off to Ubud, Bali. Where I wanted to be in the first place. Little did I know how much I’d really love as Gusti calls it, “The Real Bali.”

To be continued…

Next: NEIM’s Bali Adventure: The Heart of Bali