Tag Archives: Indonesia

Filter Change

David Mamet wrote it beautifully in the play The Duck Variations “Nothing that lives can live alone.”

It baffled me how much society tries to convince us otherwise. In order to find your way you have to go find your way alone! Sort out your shit alone. Be happy with yourself alone before you can be happy with someone else.

That is all good and I am sure to some extend true. I would never want to give back the time I was traveling alone and found out a great deal about myself. So many do that when they are in their thirties. They go on the self-discovery journey – alone.

I am back since three months now and all this time I was constantly asked where did you go, what did you see? I would talk about the magnificent places I have been and the wonderful beaches I surfed at. I would look at the pictures and was back there in my imagination, at the beach, feeling the breeze on my skin, smelling the salt of the sea through my nose, remembering how my heart was filled with peace…

When the grey rainy sky here in London seemed to put me back in to my old stress mode I would think of all these moments. I caught myself sitting on my bed and staring at my board wondering how could I bring this feeling back in to my life here?

And then it hit me! I realised that my journey wasn’t that extraordinary just because of these beautiful places but for the people I shared my journey with. It became clear to me that I wouldn’t even have seen these places, if it weren’t for these people. I would never have had ended up in Desert Point if it wasn’t for Jay and his friends who took me along on their ride. I wouldn’t have been able to hike the difficult route on top of the volcano if it wasn’t for ‘Made’, my lovely guide. And I would most certainly not have ended up in NSW if it weren’t for my new Australian friends!

To every deep memory of these six months there is a person connected to it.

As I was thinking about all of that I became aware how often we forget that it is only because of the others support we get so far in life and how often we forget to say thank you.

I dreamed since years of creating my own theatre company. I envisioned it and in my mind I had a clear picture of how I would want it to be. Even though the time might have been right, I started to see all the little yet big factors that led me to finally take the step. If it wasn’t for one special person who not only inspired me and made me think of a play I wanted to produce but who encouraged me and made me believe I could do this, I would never have gone home that evening after having had those beers outside on that cold patio in Shoreditch and I would never have started to write down the whole concept at once.
If it wasn’t for my founding member Mischa, this company would not be where it already is. And if it wasn’t for him I believe I would have never found Michael who helped us to create the writers-room.

The January blues did get to me, and the fact that the number on my bank account consistently seemed to get smaller and smaller, started to put me into a state of anxiety.
I didn’t do it on purpose it happened far more without being aware of it, but I started to focus on all the things I don’t have. I started to worry every day more and more. I would be disappointed in everything and everyone. Which led me to have my old problem of not being able to breathe. I could feel that my mind started to tell me again to walk. Something I would do in my past whenever I wouldn’t know how to handle a situation. I just left. But I couldn’t leave anymore because for the first time in my life I realised that I started to build my life here and that I didn’t wanted to walk away. Yet my ability to trust in my instinct and be patient with myself, others and life seemed not very encouraging.

Why is it that being able to be patient and trust in the natural flow of life is so much easier when you are traveling? Is it because you are far away from your known life?

I couldn’t figure it out what it was. All I knew was that in the mode I was in I felt like I have to actively fix everything. The lack of trust in myself and life, led to a lack of trust in the people in my life as well. Which then led to see things in a negative prospective.

Finally my friend Ikuyo came back from Japan. How long I have longed for that day to come. Since water always has calmed me down and here in London even though it is a bit dirty it is the only place for me to clear my head, I suggested to go for a walk along the river.

We talked about last year, her time in Japan and what has happened in our lives since we saw each other last. Ikuyo had the beautiful talent to see something positive in no matter what I told her. I was blown away by her perspective and she said: Sarah, you need to change the filter in front of your lens again!” “My filter?” I said. “Yes, like on a camera lens. You change the filter and suddenly a picture looks completely different. You have to put back the positive filter.” She said. I smiled and had to agree with her.

I loved her for these moments when she did make me realise how many good things were happening in my life. Without knowing I started to see all the good again.

I thought of my short visit to Switzerland at the end of the year to see my mother. The motherly love and the delicious home cooked meals she spoiled me with in these four days.

I thought of my new years eve and how I had for the first time in my life no urge to have a special night. I was actually really happy with my year with everything that came with it and I knew my next year was only going to be even better.

Ikuyo laughed and said she had a similar moment at her new years eve and I thanked her for reminding me to change back my filter.

In my opinion it is a luxury if you have people in your life who challenge you intellectually and emotionally. I couldn’t imagine anything more boring than to be in the company of someone by whom you feel not challenged in the slightest. I rather have once in a while a storm or thunder in my life than sail on a steady sea for the rest of my life with the sun shining bright on the blue sky.

Of course I must say that it is rarer than one thinks to have people like this in your life. Many feel like it gets exhausting with time or difficult. They tend to choose the simpler way in life. But for me it is the only way I can go about it to be able to grow. I want to feel that I am alive and I want to live life fully and not only scratch the surface of it. In order to do that, I realised I had to bring back patience in to my life and trust my instinct. No matter how uncomfortable a situation made me feel. No matter how much I would like to control it. I had to let go.

Before I left for Indonesia my friend Nyima mentioned this passage from an unknown author to me and back then I had to let go of different things in my life. Now all these months later, much more in touch with myself and at a totally different place, I feel it is again apposite:

“To let go isn’t to forget, not to think about, or ignore. It doesn’t
leave feelings of anger, jealousy, or regret. Letting go isn’t about
winning or losing. It’s not about pride and it’s not about how you
appear, and it’s not obsessing or dwelling on the past. Letting go
isn’t blocking memories or thinking sad thoughts, and it doesn’t leave
emptiness, hurt, or sadness. It’s not about giving in or giving up.
Letting go isn’t about loss and it’s not about defeat. To let go is
to cherish the memories, but to overcome and move on. It is having
an open mind and confidence in the future. Letting go is learning
and experiencing and growing. To let go is to be thankful for the
experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you grow.
It’s about all that you have, all that you had, and all that you will
soon gain. Letting go is having the courage to accept change,
and the strength to keep moving. Letting go is growing up. It is
realising that the heart can sometimes be the most potent remedy.
To let go is to open a door, and to clear a path and set yourself free.”

For the people in my life who make my life extraordinary! Who make me laugh, cry, reflect and grow. – Thank you

Made’s offering on top of Gunung Agung – He said thanks to his gods and his life on every step of the way!
Made's offering on top of Gunung Agung - He said thanks to his gods and his life on every step of the way!

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A thousand and more steps…

My mother always used to say that you can ‘walk off’ your sorrows. When I was angry or agitated she would tell me to go for a walk or a run because it would clear my mind.

I hiked up 3142 meters to the top of the Gungung Agung volcano in Bali and I sure had many steps in front of me to put order in to my thoughts. After the last, very intense 3 month in Indonesia, I had a lot that was going through my mind.

My guide, ‘Madé’, picked me up at ten o’clock in the evening and at eleven pm after signing in with the police (something that you have to do when you go on this route), we were standing on the bottom of the holy volcano. ‘Madé’, a local from the small village Besakih, looked exactly like I pictured a man from the mountains in Indonesia. His skin was wrinkled and dark from the cold air and the sun from the mountains and he was rather skinny. It was dark and all I could see would be my next step that the light of my head torch lit up for me. I have never been hiking in the dark and since in Indonesia the tracks are not loops like in Europe but more a vertical straight line to the top, you are forced to trust your guide a 100% and go literally one step at a time. You wont be able to look 3 steps a head of you nor can you see the top of the mountain, all you see is your next step and knowing that eventually if you keep going you will get on top!

I thought about this while I was taking my next step, how wonderful it would be if it would be so easy to apply in your life. But often we see the whole picture and not only the next step. We stress our selves out and we get frustrated with the current situation.
The path became quickly quite steep and I had to concentrate not to take a wrong step or I would have fallen in to the deep dark. Questioning the security and yet not surprised about it in Indonesia, I did wish at times that there would have been a rope to secure me to my guide. Putting aside this thought very quickly I put my focus back on my next step and ‘Madé’ and his life. I was amazed how many times a week he is doing this hike. Three to four times a week he is hiking up 3142 meters while smoking the strongest unfiltered cigarettes I have ever smelled in my life.

We took a break and he handed me half a clementine with a chocolate bar. ‘Madé’ asked me where I was staying in Bali and I replied – in Uluwatu. He lifted his eyebrow to a very specific expression that in my eyes was a bit belittling. He thought that I was doing the right thing by coming to the mountains then in his eyes the true Balinese people are in the small mountain villages. He started to explain to me that the people in the bigger areas or the cities have become greedy and lost track of what is important in life. “Here in the mountains people are genuine and polite.” – He said. And it was true. At the bottom temple where he worshipped his god and the mountain we met a group of men who were just about to enter the temple. The way they were greeting each other was so beautiful genuinely honest, that I couldn’t stop staring. Their voices were warm and kind and their faces seemed open in a way that you could see all the way down in to their souls. I have never witnessed anything like it. I was surrounded from this bubble of pure peace. It was beautiful.

Meanwhile the route has become quite hard and we reached already 2500 meters. Going from sea-level to 3142 meters is noticeable on your lungs. I started to breathe more heavily and kept wishing I was more in form. On the other hand it cleared my system, my over active brain started to slow down and listen to the breathing and my footsteps. It was calming and it almost had something meditative to it. Suddenly it felt like I was walking off everything that happened in my last four and a half years. I went back to the day my father passed away and never before I saw that day so clear as on that night on the holy mountain. At some stage it felt like my feet were moving by it’s self and I had time to focus on my thoughts. Step by step I walked through that horrible day and tried to come to peace with it. I saw myself standing next to that hospital bed again and I believed to hear the machine that helped my father to breath. I remember how cold and dark everything around me felt that day, but then something changed – I used to see my father lying there in pain but this time I saw him there sleeping and thankful for not having any more pain. Even though there has not one day gone by that I haven’t missed him dearly in my life, my heart started to relax . As if I could feel his presence on this holy mountain, I felt that he was with me every step of the way. He was an optimistic human being and had the ability to always see the positive. And there I was walking, my steps became heavier and slower, and I almost wanted to give up and turn around as I heard my dad say: “You can do it Sarah, you are going to regret it if you turn around now!” And he was of course right!

I thought about my past relationship, about that man I spent many years of my life with. I started to see the good and was thankful for what we had, but it also made a lot of sense to me that our paths have gone in different directions. I never held a grudge against him or towards what happened but I used to think I wasted my best years staying with and holding back for man who in the end betrayed my believes. Now it all started to make sense to me. I wouldn’t be here today if I wouldn’t have gone through all of these experiences in my life and I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I have today.

We got higher and it was freezing. The three sweaters that I was wearing clearly were not the right choice for these conditions. By now we were somewhere close to 3000 meters as ‘Madé’ suddenly decided to take a break and have a rest. I thought he meant a five-minute break but he had more a 30 min nap in mind. He packed out another jacket, thick and warm, a cap and gloves, and lied down in the corner of a little cave and went to sleep. Jealous of his jacket I stared at him, shivering on every single part of my body, thinking ‘you must be joking’! Since he took the whole space that you would be hidden from the freezing wind I didn’t have much more of a choice than to huddle down and trying to give my body parts as much heat from my own body as possible. I learned my lesson to never go so unprepared on a hike like this again. The alarm went off and ‘Madé’ got up and asked me if I was ready to go up the last part. Believe me – I was ready!

The last part was very steep and slippery. The sun was about to come out any second and I was able to see the top summit. It seemed so close and yet it didn’t seem like we were getting any closer! How much I know this feeling from my life and my work! If you keep working for a goal and it seems to be right there in front of you, you can almost reach it but just not yet, it can be frustrating. Having this thought I wanted to get on top of Gungung Agung like nothing else!

And there it was – my reward – the sky started to lid up red, purple, orange and blue. The deep colours got stronger and stronger the higher we got. I almost started to run up at the end because I was afraid I couldn’t see the full sunrise. Again I was afraid I could be missing out or late. But the conditions of the mountain forced me to go at my guides pace and so I followed him step by step, taking the time to let this magical view that nature has given me, sink in. As we reached the top I was speechless! I have never seen such a view – such a sky – such colours in my life! I forgot about being cold and tired, it was like I was revitalised by nature and its beauty.
‘Madé’ brewed me a coffee and offered me Balinese biscuits that his wife made for me and I gratefully slurped my hot coffee with a huge smile on my face.

As I stood alone with ‘Madé’ on top of Gungung Agung, watching the sunrise and being totally at peace, I felt like someone pushed the ‘hold’ button. Time seemed to stand still and it was like the universe gave me the chance to make a choice right here right now about my self and my life and in which direction I want to go. I waited a while with releasing the ‘pause’ button – I wasn’t ready yet. I still had a view thoughts running through my mind and I felt that this was one of these moments where you can get a major insight about who you are and what you want for your self.

After leaving my known life behind me, and going on this journey, I went through many stages. Doing things I have never done before, interact with completely different people and living life from one day to the other I did find out a tremendous amount about my self. I started to respect my self again and more importantly love my self again. I had moments where I thought I will change my life completely, live in the wild away from everyone and everything known to me. But the funny thing about finding yourself is that sooner or later you understand who you are and you come to terms with your past and it all seems to make sense. As much as I loved my time living from one day to the other I knew right there, that I had a purpose and that it was time for me to get back on it. The theatre, the literature and the arts as well as the interaction with people who want to make a difference were calling me. I knew more than ever ‘who’ I was and that I want to go back to the theatre, writing and work. I knew that I want to become a mother one day and show my children that where there is a will there is a way. Anything is possible!

Away from everything and everyone I was happy and I knew that I have learned from my mistakes and experiences in the past. Often we try to be someone else for a loved one or we hold back on our own potential to fit in, to make it work, or to make someone else feel better about them selves. We all know that we can always change to become the best of what we can be, but it has to come from your own within and because YOU want that change.
Right there, I saw my potential and I knew that I will never hold back or be someone I am not for anyone anymore!

I have been told a couple of times in my life that my expectations are enormously high and that it is impossible to live up to them. Well I believe that many people do not out live their potential and settle for less. But are they really happy? Scared of ending up alone or out of the ‘group’ which gives them security, they try to hold on to something that often holds them back. I love people and I believe that we all are beautiful individuals with a positive centre and the capacity to make a difference in this world no matter in what way. It is only the question if you have the guts to go against the stream or if you want to flow with all the other fish in the river so-called life.

I released the ‘pause’ button and the sun fully came out and lid up the whole sky with light. It was a new day, a new beginning. I knew in that moment that my life will take a major turn soon. Not sure how or in what way exactly, but I knew that as long as I will stay true to myself and my values I will be happy and on the right track.

It was the perfect ending to my time in Indonesia and the start of a new chapter in my life. I was ready to descend Gunung Agung. I took one last look over Bali to Lombok and even Java and said goodbye for now.
Walking down in full day light I caught my self looking too far a head of the track and I stumbled because I was rushing. I tried to remember what great lesson I just learned a couple of hours ago. Step by step and with patience having the big picture in your mind and you will eventually get there!

Sunrise on top of Gungung Agung

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Desert Point

The road was tricky to get through with the car and it seemed there was not going to be anything at the end. Here and there was a little hut with kids who played in front of it. I thought I saw the raw Indonesia when I was in Java but Lombok thought me different. There was absolutely nothing here and it was beautiful! The further we got, people started to recognize the guys since they have been here many times.

Hendra sat on the back of the bike of his dad on his way to school, when he recognized Ed who drove the car. He loves Eddy so much that a couple of years a go, Eddy would always find Hendra sleeping next to him in the morning when he was waking up. He is a remarkable boy. Five years ago his foot got stock in the motorbike and ripped almost the whole foot apart. He lost a view toes and a massive scar with a big pump has left a trade mark on his foot now. But today Hendra is walking and surfing as if nothing happened. When I saw his foot and looked around me I started to think where on earth they took him back then. There was no real doctor here and the nearest hospital must be hours away.

We finally made it and arrived in Desert Point. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life! There is nothing but may be five to six huts and the beach. Jay and Ed know them since years and are very good friends with the people who live here and host the huts. We were lucky and got one of the rooms right in the front.

I could feel how my lungs opened up and were able to breath deeply. After the hustling ferry-ride through the night and the last view weeks in Uluwatu it was such a big relieve to be out here in the nature surrounded by nothing but beauty. Bali has become such a hip place and has grown immensely through the last view years that it is no longer the peaceful place that it used to be. The locals started to smell the money and keep building hotel after hotel for more tourism without the thought of the future and what will be left for their children. Never the less, Bali is amazing and still beautiful. You just have to know where to go.

It was hide tide when we arrived and perfect for me to go surfing. The reef here in Desert Point is crazy. When it is low tide you can walk out all the way and the big waves break right in front of you. It is quite dangerous and you need a certain level to be able to surf it. For me the only chance to surf was when it is high tide.
I paddled out and still saw the reef below me it was so shallow. But I was taken in by the share beauty of the clear blue water, the sun and everything that surrounded me that I didn’t pay to much attention to the reef.
Jay came out and gave me some more instructions on my surfing and I started to improve on every wave I took. He pushed me harder and kept saying: “Come on hurry up get back on the board there is another wave. Paddle – paddle harder – NOW get up – look up not down!” I wouldn’t say it, but I really liked the fact that he cared and pushed me so much. I couldn’t believe my life, my heart was literally jumping up and down of happiness. Here I was in one of the most amazing places I have ever been with a man I meet out of the blue who seemed to love me for just the way I am. A man who couldn’t be more different to me than anyone I met so far and still it felt like to souls that have been looking for each other all this time have found one-another.
His face lit up in a way that I haven’t seen before once we were at Desert’s. He got so relaxed and excited at the same time knowing that soon he will be able to finally ride some big waves again. It was like a kid in a candy store, who just got told you ‘can eat whatever you would like’. When he asked me if I like it here and if I am happy his smile got even bigger after he heard my joyful yes!
The boys were surprised that I liked it so much and they also were scared that after a day or two I would be bored to death because there is nothing here but nature and no luxury at all. Apparently most women wouldn’t like it here and would never join them on a trip to Desert Point, which I couldn’t understand at all. From all my travels this is exactly what I have been waiting for!

Sidi is one of the women who lives here at the huts we stayed at and she is also one of the best cooks I have encountered so far. Her and Ratni, which is her sister in law cooked for us everyday and made us feel home form the first second we arrived. Ratni who speaks more or less no English at all seemed to like me for some reason. She would always say Saraaaahhh whit a big smile when I walked by or asked her for something. I wished I could speak her language then I wanted to know so much more about her life here in Deserts. For us having the luxury to come and surf, enjoy life and go again when ever it pleases us is something else but for them to be born here and life here all their life must be a totally different story. And I was determined to find out more about it!

I was sitting on the bench, relaxing and happy after my surf which was fantastic –looking out in the ocean and when little Hendra crused by on his bike. The pure joy of life that Hendra carries in his eyes showed me again what I was looking for, ever since I left London. Gratitude for being alive and what you have! That little boy is ten years old now, survived a massif accident in the desert where you get boils so easily due to the fact that you are in the tropics. He has two books that he keeps reading over and over and it made me think of all the kids I know back home and the amount of toys and cloth they have and still need more. He learned surfing on have of a surfboard and now has one Karne, the son of Eddy gave to him. Karne who is eleven and Hendra surfed every day together. Karne who is already a top-notch surfer, finally became a kid again once he had some other kids around him. Since he is often just with the boys he forgets sometimes that he is only eleven years old.

I was so thankful to be able to experience all of this, especially after last week when my old life seemed to creep back in to my present. I was frustrated that I left so far and yet still I felt haunted by the things I left on purpose behind me. I had good reasons for leaving even though there might be people who don’t understand my point of view or my actions. I didn’t come so far to be back in the same boat. I wanted to find my own way regardless of how I was brought up or what I was used to. Regardless of what may be my family members think I should be doing in my life. It is harder than one thinks to go out in the world and find your own way that makes you happy. Often we are marked by what we know since we were little and the people that surround us that we think we have to continue life exactly the same way. We don’t take a second thought or better the risk of finding out what sort of life would fit perfectly for one self.
Hendra reminded me with his smile on my luck.
It is like in Gregory David Roberts wrote in his book ‘Shantaram’:” …try to relax completely, and go with the experience. Just … let yourself go. Sometimes, in India, you need to surrender before you win.” I believe this sentence is not only true for India but for your whole life. At first it was hard to let go of my old habits and known circumstances. And it is funny how long one tries to hold on to them. Almost feeling guilty of liking the new life you catch yourself bringing back up the past, which evidentially will bring back those thoughts and fears in to the present. But if you let go you will change too and you will never be the same person that you used to be. Which can be scary and liberating at the same time.
I had it the other night when I took a walk at night at the beach. Millions of stars were shining bright and with the milky-way the universe created a marvellous painting in the sky. I sat down and looked at it for a while. I could feel that my feelings were all over the place. I didn’t yet surrender, forcefully I tried the last couple of days to control my feelings again. I caught my self how I started to relive habits from my past relationship and of course I wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t want to do it but for some reason my body and mind were acting on its own. While looking at the stars I realised that ever since my father passed away I fear I could get too attached to someone, and so I looked for things that could cause a problem or I manipulated the current situation unaware of that I was doing it. I decided to walk back to the huts and find Jay. I had the sudden urge to tell him what was going on with me. As I came back, he just got massaged by Amad, who is a medical healer in his own way. His treatment is not pleasant, but he finds the cause of your pain and relieves it. Underneath the pain from Amad’s massage, Jay asked me if I no longer show him the cold shoulder. I was quite surprised that he noticed it so quickly. He pulled me down next to the floor and asked me how my walk was. My words seemed stuck in my mouth they didn’t want to come out even though my heart wanted nothing more than to tell him all of what I just realised. All I could say was a whispering ‘yes’. When Amad was done with his work he jumped up with his fit body of his and lit up a cigarette. There is not one gram of fat on him. We call him the Bruce Lee of Lombok. Jay and I went outside with him and Jay pulled me to the side and asked me what was going on. My words were still tangled in my mouth and I couldn’t find a way to put them in order. He lifted up my head with his hand and said: “Look me in the eyes.” I could feel that he was looking right through me in to the deepest corner of my heart that I have been trying to hide and before I could say it he said: “Are you afraid you could get too attached to me?” “Yes” I said with a crack in my voice. And I told him all about my fears, about my Dad and how I didn’t want to have the same relationship like my last one. And he said. “ You gotta let go of the past. It is no longer here I am your present and future now.” It was in that moment that I let go and I just gave in. I opened up my heart even more to myself to him and to the present.
The next day I woke up more at peace with my self than I can put in words. I realised that I took a huge step and that I was ready to go further. Ready to live my life my way and stop forcing a life that others want me to live.

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Chez Maddy’s

It has been pouring down rain like I have never seen before. I always thought it rains a lot in London, but this kind of rain is a whole other level.
The skin feels sticky because the humidity level is extremely high.
I have been sitting with my friend Luiza from Brazil and a bunch of other buddies on the porch at Maddy’s, staring out in the sea and wondering when the rain would stop. To pass the time we ended up playing “Bullshit” and drunk Indonesian rum that tastes a bit like cherry and is absolutely not delicious.

Maddy’s is a fantastic little homestay all the way down in Padang Padang. It is hidden from all the rest and not that easy to find. After a small path on the bike you have to go down quite a view steep steps that you hate every time you have to go back up. It is extremely basic but you can’t help your self but love it!
There is something about Maddy’s that makes everyone join together and you end up being almost like a little family. You feel home at Maddy’s and you don’t want to leave Mamma Maddy’s house anymore. A view steps down and you can jump straight in to the water and go surfing. I haven’t stayed anywhere so far so long as here. And even though I decided to go with Giacomo, whom I met at Maddy’s, to go hike the Rinjani Vulcano in Lombok I already feel a bit sad by the thought of leaving this place. Uluwatu and everything down here as grown close to my heart.

I have had time to come down here at Maddy’s, the constant moving can be tiring and you can’t really process what you have experienced. Once at one place for a bit longer you come to realise how much you have seen and explored. How many interesting people you meet along the way and how much the cultures and costumes change. It is a real privilege to be able to experience all that.
My travels have thought me to be more open as a person and be a lot less judgemental towards people and their background.

The other day when I was surfing in Uluwatu I was struggling to paddle back out. Tired from the night out before I still decided to go out in the water but my body kept telling me to rest. I wouldn’t listen and paid the price. I didn’t catch any waves because I was too slow. There are always so many people in the water in Ulu that you have to be quick or you wont get a wave at all. After I decided to paddle in, the current took me out all the way and I had a long paddle in front of me. Angry and frustrated, I paddled back out convinced I could take one last good wave so I would feel good and could be content with the surf of this day. Suddenly someone paddled up next to me, quick and very easy, I got already annoyed about that, because I was so tired and nothing seemed easy to me at this moment. “Hello?” Was all he said and I wanted to response in a feisty way: “What do you want?” But in stead I turned my head and all I said was: ”Hi.” He smiled at me and I recognized him from before in the water. He caught every wave and was doing all sorts of tricks. “Long paddle, ei?” I could feel how my ambitious personality wanted to fight back and make sure I wouldn’t look like a fool, but instead I gave in and admitted totally honest: “Yes, it is not my day at all. I am so tired and I am not catching any waves.” “That’s ok, there are days like that, we all have them.” He smiled and after inviting me to have a drink later he paddled off.
I was left behind, thinking: “Was that an invitation now or what, and where and when?” I continued paddling and watched how he already caught the next wave. I tried to figure out if I do want to have a drink with him or not. I decided o go out and headed for the reef. The reef cut in to my feet while walking over it and my tempo was slower than the one of a snail.
“There you are, I thought I lost ya!” Said a very strong Australian accent behind me. I turned and there he was again walking a lot smoother over the reef than me. He offered me to carry my board but of course I wouldn’t allow that. We walked together over the reef and I accepted his help of getting my balance by holding on to his shoulder. I could feel that I liked the fact that someone was looking out for me. I noticed a bunch of stickers on his board and it was obvious that he was sponsored, but I didn’t want to ask if he was a professional surfer. He must have caught my eyes checking out the stickers but he didn’t say it yet. Instead he asked me for how long I have been surfing and I honestly told him that I have only been surfing for one month. His eyebrows went up with a slight tilt back of his head, which indicated the surprise of me surfing at this spot. I wouldn’t admit it, but that little gesture made me feel a lot better about my shitty day.

On the little hill in Uluwatu, which you walk back up along surf shops and bars, he introduced me to his friends. Never in my life I met a group of people like them. They were all Free-riders and just came back from a two-week boat trip in the Mentawi’s. They have been on that boat in the jungle away from any sort of civilisation that at first they seemed a bit rough and I felt a bit lost in their world. But shortly after I felt so welcomed and comfortable that I accepted his invitation to dinner.
He told me he will pick me up later and I tried to insist to get there with my own bike. He made me laugh when he said, that he is old-fashioned and that he is the man and will drive. He seemed to be everything but old-fashioned! I can’t remember the last time I was being picked up for a dinner. I realised I am so used to be on my own and pay for my self, that all the feelings that crumbled up inside of me, were confusing me. I decided to just go with it and enjoy the moment. It was worth letting go, the evening with him and his friends was beautiful.

Back in London I only had friends who are in the same industry as me. Never in my life I would have thought that I open up to such a different lifestyle and would feel comfortable. As for now, for the first time I can just go with the flow and see where the wind is blowing me.

The surf, the sun, the nice smell of the incense from the offerings everywhere, the people, the fact that I can get up and read a book and write – all together is magical and I sometimes can’t believe my luck!

Maddy's


Seminyak and the villa Paris

The moment arrived that the swell was going to be so big, that it was not possible for me to surf at Balian beach and I needed to get my visa sorted out anyway. What a perfect moment to do that.

I met Paris in Balian and she not only offered me a ride a long but also to stay at her place while I had to fix my visa situation. We got along really well from the first moment we met. It almost felt like we knew each other since many years, so I gratefully accepted her invitation.

As we got to her house I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stayed rather in very basic places while traveling through Java and there I was standing in the entrance of a fantastic villa with pool. What a luxury!

The next day we went together towards Keramas where the Oakley Pro contest took place. The chance to see Kelly Slater surf with all the other best surfers was a must for me. Finally, I could realise another dream of mine. It was mind-blowing to see what they are capable of. It certainly was a whole different category. On the second day of the contest I finally fixed my visa and left for Kuta to find my own new board. What a hustle that was. I probably went in to every surf shop there is in Kuta, but finally I found it – my own board. Happy and so excited I couldn’t wait to try it out! I went to a beach in Seminyak, which was not the best decision since the surf is not the best there and the amount of rubbish that floated by me every other minute was absolutely shocking. It is sad how people here do not have a sense of what this does to the nature. They throw everything in the sea and on the ground as if it was their bin. If they are continuing this habit, this beautiful country will soon be destroyed!

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Paris showed me a bit around in Seminyak and I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the people who surrounded me. Back in civilisation, back in a city, it took me a while to accumulate and I made for the first time in my life the experience that I missed the small place where there where not many people, no clubs, no big hip bars just nature. Since I didn’t bring a big wardrobe along I felt totally under dressed between all these stylish girls. I am used to live in a big city and I know that kind of live like my backhand, that being in that situation was extremely new to me. I could tell that my travels have made an impact on my personality and me.

I didn’t feel like staying at this hip fancy place and wanted to walk along the beach at sunset. Already putting my feet back in the sea calmed me down. At another beach bar that was more relaxed and less hip, started Paris to tell me about her life and I couldn’t believe her life story. What an impressive life she had and the amount of suffering she went through moved me to tears. It is funny how you attract the right person for what you have to process for yourself if you travel alone.
Traveling alone is already very intense and you get to know yourself in a way that you couldn’t imagine before.
I believe I had to meet Paris to get to the next point of my self-discovery. I wasn’t aware of it at the moment but looking back now it all makes a lot of sense to me.

It was during that time with Paris that I hit that phase where you feel extremely alone and lost. I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me at this moment. I had a new friend in my life and wasn’t actually alone. I stayed at a beautiful place and was back in an environment that I should be more used to. The fact that I have changed and was surrounded by known circumstances may be provoked all this to happen in that particular moment.

I came to realise that I am no longer just an actress or the person I thought I was. I suddenly realised that there is so much more in me. I think I wasn’t aware of my own potential before, or may be I was scared of it . . .

Paris and I decided to go to Canggu beach, which is a 20 minutes drive on the motorbike from Seminyak up northwest. I wanted to go surfing and she wanted to have a relaxing day at the beach. It was early morning, when I suddenly had a breakdown. Tears started to roll down my cheeks and I could feel the ground underneath me opening up to this big black hole. I felt like I was going to fall and I didn’t know where. Paris took me in her arms and congratulated me. I looked totally startled at her. A bit embarrassed about the fact that I was crying over something that I couldn’t really explain I asked her: “Why are you congratulating me?”
She said: “Because you are making the biggest gift to your-self. You are freeing your-self from your old box and you opening up to an even more authentic person. I call it ‘peeling an onion’! The closer you get to the centre the stronger it gets. You are getting to know yourself on whole new level. This experience will teach you more than you ever can study for your whole life and it is a gift. It is scary because you can’t yet see what’s on the other side, but give it time and be patient and the reward will be tremendous.”
Blown away by her words and her empathy I thanked her from the bottom of my heart and we left for Canggu.

As soon as I was in the water surfing my mind calmed down and I forgot my sorrows once again. I felt so much better afterwards and sank absolutely tired in to bed. It all got even better after the next day when we made a day trip to Uluwatu in the south. What an impressive sight that is. You can stand on the cliff and have the perfect view of the surf. It was too big for me so we went to Padang Padang and I surfed there and as well as at Impossibles. I got totally smashed by a couple of waves but I kept going out and wouldn’t give up. Absolutely powered-out and feeling great we ended our day with a fresh red snapper right at the beach in Bingin.

I could feel that I reached the next phase and also that it was time for me to move on. It was the perfect ending to this very intense time with Paris. I loved it so much down in the south that I decided to leave for the next view days to Uluwatu.

Seminyak was great but I couldn’t wait to leave the city again.
The next morning I packed my bag, but my board on the surf rack of the bike and with some upbeat music in my ears and a really big smile, I couldn’t help but love the feeling that I was back on the road!

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A breakthrough moment in Pacitan

Pacitan what a great place! I was in heaven once I arrived and was able to go to bed with the sound oft the waves. I slept like a baby and left the city smog behind me.

At Harry’s Ocean House you get invited quickly in to a community, I loved it straight away. I also got to cook for the first time in Indonesia my self and really enjoyed going to the market and buy fresh vegetables and tofu with a lot of chillies of course.

Pacitan is rather small and there isn’t much going on. You won’t find any touristy things and I really appreciated that fact a lot. You go there because you love the nature and you surf. There is not much else to do.

Getting up in the morning and having at first a look at the surf then jump on your motorbike and off you go to one of the three main surf spots in the area. There is also one spot that I call “my secret beach”. To get there it is quite an adventure. After a drive on the motorbike in the hills on a road that requires a certain driving skill, you have to put your motorbike on hold and hike the rest. It was burning hot on that day as I made my way to the secret beach. On the way I came across an older Javanese man, who decided to walk me to the beach. He spoke not a word of English and we walked rather quietly side by side. We came across farmers in the hills and I was amazed how they live and work up there. It seemed like a different world.
They road made it’s way downhill and suddenly I saw beautiful rice fields just like I pictured them before coming to this country. I could hear the waves a bit further a way and I knew I couldn’t be too far away. And there, peeking out between the palm trees and rice fields was a cove like I have never seen before in my life. As I reached the beach with the old man I was lost for words. The pure beauty of nature was mind-blowing. The water was turquoise and blue, the sand white with palm trees greener than green. Not a single other human being was on the beach. I sat down and just looked out in the sea and enjoyed the beauty. The old man sat next to me and he kept pointing to my board that I carried with me with the hope to be able to surf. I smiled and tried to explain to him that the current was to big for me to go out alone. He smiled and I wasn’t sure if he understood what I was trying to say. We sat a bit longer underneath a palm tree and later made our way back towards the bikes.
He seemed to have known every farmer we came across and eager with a big smile pointed towards me. I figured he said he brought me to the beach but wasn’t sure what he really said to them. As we reached the motorbikes I tried to give him a little bit of money as a thank you but he refused it and I finally gave in. I thanked him gratefully and we tried to get back with our bikes, which was harder than I thought.
It was a beautiful day and I was thankful to have met such a wonderful man.

In Pacitan I finally got my answer from RADA. I was waiting for this now since Mai. All this time whilst traveling I asked my self “what if” I get in “what if” I don’t get in. The funny thing was the longer I travelled the more I kept thinking that I get in and that it would be a nice way of knowing which direction my life would go. I would sort of have something to return to, something that defines a plan.

I have experienced so many wonderful and beautiful things so far on my journey, and there hasn’t been a moment in which I was bored or didn’t know what to do. Nevertheless you live day by day, not knowing what will be tomorrow. For me something I am not used to. It needs a lot of confidence to trust your self to know that it will all be just fine. I think the reason why we all make these plans and put our self’s in to these boxes, so-called career or social agendas, is because we are scared of the unknown. It is ten times easier to make a full worked out life plan by what time you have which degree ad which job title, when you want to get married and have children than just live your life. I have always admired people who are able to do that. I am someone who always had a plan. I always knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Here I was about to open that certain message that again is putting me in that box that I was not that happy to be in anymore and all I could think was: I hope I got in! I have to admit that the last few days I got a little scared of not knowing exactly how my journey is going to continue. By the fact of a “yes” from this school I could plan out the whole next few month till I would have to go back to London.

I opened the message and I couldn’t believe the word that stuck out to me in huge letters. “Unfortunately”! I didn’t even have to read on, I knew in that moment it is a “no”!
I got so angry, frustrated and also sad. Why didn’t they want me? Why didn’t they accept me? I had a “kitchen floor melt down “ moment. I could feel how my whole world collapsed. What was I going to do now? I suddenly realized that I fooled my self. I did say I wanted to go on this journey to find out what I really wanted to do. And there I got exactly what I asked for only that I didn’t count with the possibility to be literally so exposed to it and that in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia. In a way I think I never even considered not doing it or doing something else. The share amount of possibilities what I could do now was suddenly frightening to me. I could travel everywhere and I could work anything. What am I going to do? What is my purpose now? That was the question!

That night I went to bed with tears rolling down my cheeks. I tried to be quiet since I was sleeping in a dorm and didn’t want anyone to know that I was crying because I got rejected from RADA.
I got up very early and went straight to the beach, jumped on my board and started to paddle out all my anger. It felt good that I could feel my body, but I wasn’t there. My thoughts were still circling around that letter and my situation. Therefore I didn’t surf well because I wasn’t in the here and now, which then of course frustrated me even more. I felt like I was doing worse than before.

Actively I reminded my self why I love surfing so much. That moment you connect with the nature and you feel your body. You put your self in the here and now and it is almost like a way of meditation. In that moment it seems there is nothing else that matters. And it worked! My heart relaxed my brain stopped running in high-speed motion and I felt happy. In that moment I took my best wave so far and the feeling was extraordinary!! I was filled with joy and all I could think of was that I was thankful for being in this beautiful country and get to live an amazing life!

I didn’t spend one more negative thought on RADA and the whole story. I understood why it had to happen like this. And even though it is scary and unknown what will happen in my life, one thing I was certain of: I was one more step closer to my true self because I put my self for the very first time in the present. There was no plan that I could think about there was no past that I was missing, there was just the now. And in that particular “now” I was just happy and that felt great!

Pacitan

Pacitan


My little secret of Yogykarta

Lock in Yogykarta

As I walked trough the Sultan Palace in Yogykarta I suddenly realised that my Star of David is no longer around my neck. I lost my necklace that I carried everyday because it reminded me of my father. The first one that I received from my dad, got stolen while I was on a shoot for a Film. Now the second one that I specifically bought to remember him is gone as well. I didn’t even flip out or got really sad or mad. I only said to Emily, with whom I made the trip that I could use a drink now. As we were walking through the market, the sun was burning down and I felt like I was about to melt, I thought about my necklace and what it represented for me.

Did my necklace represent another box, a box that I have to leave as well? Was this meant to happen because I am on this journey? I never wore it because I felt that I was very religious not at all, but it was always very important to me to connect it to my father. Since my father was an orphan from the Second World War and he never really knew where exactly he was from, this was what was left in terms of roots. He wasn’t religious ether but the only thing he would say was: “I am Jewish”. I always wanted to know where I was from and it is still a desire I carry around with me. So in a way I continued what my father did.

I had a big sip from my beer and I could feel that through the heat it went faster in my bloodstream than usually.

Who am I without my necklace, my father, my job, the theatre and my comfort zone?
It made me think of the Sultan Palace I just saw. All these pictures of the whole monarchy, that went back over generations. The whole palace and even the water palace, which was the Sultans bath, made him in a way immortal.
Did I really need a necklace to make my father immortal for myself? No, I don’t even need him to be immortal. I loved my father more than anything and no matter if I carry a necklace to remember him or not, I will never forget him and nether my roots. In a way I felt lighter. Unusual and constantly with the feeling of that my neck felt very naked, I decided to embrace this new opportunity.

And then something interesting happened. Since my dad was a big fan of culture, travel and art and as a child we would always have to go see every temple, monument and museum etc. as soon as we were on a trip, I started to look out for things he would have liked or we would have talked about. I suddenly started to look at everything with him in my mind and I saw things that I would have like better and things that he would have found more interesting. Ever since he passed that was the moment I felt my roots the most. My father thought me so much through his work, his interests, and his travels that “this” was in a way him. I carry on what he thought me, how much more can you ask for when it comes to roots. Yes, I might not know exactly which country and what cultural influence I carry in me but I know where I am from. From my father!

In a way Yogykarta showed me a hidden secret about my self almost like it’s hidden street art, which is also my favourite thing of Yogykarta. If you look for it you can build your own city map just with the street art and you will know where to go. On my way back from Pacitan to Yogy I found myself being pretty secure with directions due to my own “city map”.

Another very impressive moment was when Emily and I went to go see how they built the Shadow puppets. It is fascinating how delicate this work is. To finish one of the puppets it takes one week and that is without colouring it. The artist who explained to us where the puppets come from and what their meaning is had a so much passion whilst talking about it, that I was totally captured by him and the whole art. I wanted to know everything. Every figure has its own story and in the whole design you can find their power and purpose. Very Impressive! One of them stuck to me, it was the one with a big bum. And if you looked closely you saw three major circles in the figure. One was the bum, one the stomach area and one the head. The three represent the three centers in the body:
Mind – feeling – instinct.
He explained to us that there must be a balance between all three of them otherwise it wouldn’t be healthy. I had to smile a bit, then he was so right. How often do we not succeed in finding the balance between all three of them! Often in the Western civilisation we are more mind oriented. We believe we can control everything with our thoughts and it will all work out. We have fix plans on how things have to turn out and by what time we have to have accomplished certain things. It made a lot of sense to me what he said, but I also thought it is easier said than done.

He saw my temporary tattoo on my wrist, which represented for me the waves, life, vitality and creativity. He looked at my tattoo and said: “This is very you. You are a very passionate woman and you care more for others than your self. You have a very deep character and you take a long time to decide. You think about it for a while and once you know you want it, you go for it. You connect quickly to people and you give them your trust. But often you don’t stay true to your self. You let other people influence you. You have to trust more your heart!”

I stared at him and at first I couldn’t say anything. How right the man was! One of the reasons I left was exactly that I wanted to learn to listen to my heart and not be influenced by others. And still on my journey when I spend a few days with someone, I always want to make sure they are happy. Day by day I am learning more to do what I want to do, regardless of what others think or want to do. And it gives an inner peace to your heart, because you can feel that the decision was the right one.

The next day Emily and I took a trip to Borobodur. It is Javas biggest Buddhist Temple. We rented a motorbike and I enjoyed that part very much. Driving in the city with the locals, surrounded by thousands of motorbikes, I was finally part of the “honey bees”. I was happy to see that Emily trusted my driving style and I trusted her with finding the way to the temple. We made a pretty good team. Once we arrived at Borobodur, we had to see that this place is a massive tourist attraction. Nevertheless I wanted to see it. We put on our sarong’s and made our way to the top. Pretty quickly we had to realize that not the temple was the main attraction, we were. All the Indonesian tourists asked all the Western tourists if they can take a picture with them. We were literally followed around the whole temple. I didn’t like this at all. I wanted to get a feeling of the temple and its history. Emily and I started to hide in places where they wouldn’t go. Once there, we realised what an incredible place this actually is. The enormity of the whole temple is incredible and beautiful.

On our way back we not only had to get the tire fixed but almost back in Yogykarta we ran out of gas in the middle of the highway. So I started to pull to the side and saw across the street a little place who would sell gas. I started to talk to them and they were laughing so much, but a split second later the older man ran across the street and filled our bike back up with gas. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t a problem for anyone. No one honked the horn no one screamed: “Get out-of-the-way”.

I learned in this country that the people here always see a solution when there seems to be a little problem. For them it is more about finding another way to solve the situation. They don’t seem to get stressed out that quickly at all. I am so grateful I get to experience this culture and I have learned so much from them already.

street art in Yogykarta


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