I am feeling some cabin fever, in Ubud, Indonesia, entirely of my own doing.
There are different types of cabin fever. I remember the weekends when it would snow in Chicago. We would watch it pile up outside of our basement windows from the comfort of our leather sofa, me generally under a fleece blanket, while we cleaned out the DVR of our favorite shows. I wore flannel pants and thick socks. Usually red wine was involved, drank out of very large crystal glasses, often opened many hours before the customary 5pm drinking time. This was mother nature induced cabin fever.
Then, there is the self imposed cabin fever that I experienced as a traveler not traveling. When I wanted nothing more than to hunker down in one spot, with the backpack unpacked, feeling normal for just a bit. Until it got a little too normal, a little too grounded. I started to itch.
I am sure many of you, who just experienced snow in the States in the middle of April, will feel no sympathy for me and my plight, as I am forced to take in the view over the rice fields here in Bali. Nor am I expecting sympathy. After all, yesterday was a lovely day in Bali. I never left the house. Practiced no yoga. I watched our gardner, Pak Mejo, build a new scarecrow for the rice paddies, to scare away the birds. I planned some travel. And here in lies the rub.
When we first secured our 60 day visa to Indonesia back in November in Kuala Lumpur, I knew we had something special. It is getting increasingly more difficult to get a 60 day visa to Indonesia, particularly from the embassy in KL, and particularly for people whose passports are loaded with Indonesian visas, like ours are. We knew we needed to make the most of it, which for us meant taking advantage of the possibility of four 30 day extensions, allowing us to stay in Bali for six months straight. At the time, it seemed amazing, as I was loathe to travel after our stint in Europe and the Middle East.
Now, I have Ubud fever. Some refer to it as island fever when you have found yourself living in Bali for too long and need a break. We are almost 5 months in and we have spent only 3 nights away from the house. I have not spent this much time sleeping in one bed in years, I might even say decades. In our old lives we were always traveling, for work, for vacation, always booking the next flight.
During the prime of my legal career, we took numerous trips in a single year, just for vacation. Normally, we would take one or two longer trips a year, mostly to Europe, sometimes to Asia. We have flown to Rome for Labor Day, Amsterdam for Thanksgiving, Argentina for a weekend wedding. We would do weekends in San Francisco, or tack on days to business trips to make the most of an already paid-for flight. Then, there were almost monthly trips to Palo Alto, California, where I was a regular at the Westin, always greeted by the same front desk guy. I was there so much he stopped asking to check my ID. I rarely lasted two weeks without taking a flight somewhere. During dry spells we would drive to NJ to see Eric’s mom, or at least spend a night in Maryland with Eric’s sister and her family.
We were always on the move.
Now, other than a few day trips to the beach, and a weekend at the luxury Viceroy just down the road, we have not left The Big Orange House. I think it is starting to affect my psyche.
For the first few months living in Bali I had no interest in going anywhere, planning any travel, whatsoever. We have thought about heading south for a night or two at the beach and I have been too lazy to find some place to stay. Or, I have not wanted to get out of my regular yoga schedule.
Now, I am finding it difficult to keep my regular schedule, not wanting to leave the house, and being uninspired by yoga classes that I generally love.
I need to leave. I need a remedy for my island fever. So, a traveling we will go. So, a travel planning I have done.
After 6 months of stillness, the last seven months of this year we will be planning at least 3 trips. Taiwan, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Some already booked and some in the process.
In the mean time, I am starting to enjoy the planning process a little more. I am getting excited to travel once again. At the same time, I am feeling a little bit of Groundhog’s Day, being so grounded in one place for so long. It is similar to the Groundhog’s Day life I escaped from when we left the US to explore in the first place. Life ADD.
My energy levels are low. I am finding myself less and less inspired to write, something I usually enjoy tremendously. I enjoy spending time with our friends here, but I am starting to tire of the restaurants and food options. I dream of dim sum. I know a simple solution to the problem would be to explore Bali more, or even Indonesia – there are like a thousand other islands we have not been to yet. But, I honestly don’t want to.
I just can’t explain my malaise. Part of me wants to be okay with my laziness, allow myself to work for a few hours on something, even if it is just booking a complicated itinerary to Central Vietnam, and then being okay with lounging by the pool. Or even in the pool. I worked hard for this lifestyle. I continue to. Sometimes.
But I think my current emotional rut is a result of my itchy feet, and my interest in exploring. It is about time.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.