Feeling Cabin Fever – Living in Bali

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.

Living in Bali 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.  

Living in Bali 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.

Living in Bali 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. 

Living Bali 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.

6 thoughts on “Feeling Cabin Fever – Living in Bali

  1. mike says:

    Hi Amber-

    You talk about the difficulty in getting 60 day visas. I have not researched the visas yet, but do travelers all get a 30 day visa on arrival? If I have plans to say for 60 days, what is the easiest way to either get a 60 day visa in advance. If I do not get a 60 day visa in advance, what the best way to extend a 30 day visa for another 30 days when I am already in Bali?

    If you were to recommend one or two guesthouses with the best atmosphere in Ubud (budget $50 US per night), which ones would you recommend that is close to town.

    Just curious since you are so close to Lombok, why not visit there (I heard Lombok Kuta is real nice) and the Gili Islands seem like a logical good place.

  2. Amber Hoffman says:

    Mike, yes most tourists receive a 30 day visa on arrival (assuming you are from US, Europe, Canada, Aus, etc.), then it is super easy to extend for another 30 days with a visa office in town, just don't wait until the last minute. As for guest houses, try Greenfields, which has rooms at all different rates, is relatively quiet, and still pretty close to everything. And, been to the Gilis, there is a blog about that … not a fan.

  3. Del says:

    Amber –

    I was really hoping to meet you in Ubud! I identify with what you are saying. We are month 7 of our who knows how long trip and my mind is looking for something to do. We have a housesit in Chiang Mai in a few weeks which will give some routine but I think for me it's not just travel burnout. can't quite put a finger on it yet.

    I think I've wound down from my Corporate job but maybe not.maybe I'm still healing. I also think I am so type A, my brain always needs something to chew on. I started and then stopped a blog because it felt like too much work. We (hubby and I) aren't working yet as we travel so I seem to be in this weird spot where I still want to be traveling but it's kind of meh.

    Anyway, we are currently in Laos and then headed south from here.

    Hope our paths cross! Been reading your blog at least six months before I quit my job!

  4. Heidi @WagonersAbroad says:

    I so get this! We have been in Spain for 19 months, but we take a "vacation" from Spain or our rented apartment about every 4-6 weeks. That helps keep things fresh. We will be nomadic in a couple of months, so that will be new to us.

    We will head up north for a month of Amsterdam, Belgium and N. France then off to explore Southeast Asia for a while. We aren't sure we have Bali on the list yet, but those photos of yours, make it enticing.

  5. Amber Hoffman says:

    Del, I am sorry we did not meet in Ubud, and thanks for being such a loyal reader! We will be in Vietnam in July, if that perhaps works. I wonder how I would do without the blog living this life. I think the blog, and writing in general, gives my day a little more purpose. I guess now I would focus more of my day on yoga, but while traveling long term I enjoyed the blog to keep me busy. Good luck to you!

  6. Amber Hoffman says:

    Heidi, Keep me posted as you get closer, and if you need any SE Asia advice, let me know. We have spent time all over, except Borneo and Philippines! And, looks like we will miss you in Spain. Headed there in October. We need wine and cheese and pork.

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