The best $20 bucks I spent whilst travelling.

I recently read this blog post

the best $20 I’ve ever spent travelling was

and it inspired me to craft the below.

I was on Gili Trewangen, a tiny island to the east of Bali in Indonesia. I had given up on the world, sold everything I had and left London with just my backpack, a laptop and a vague plan to write the novel that I had been dreaming of whilst squashed in commuter trains every day.

One day I was on an infamous swiping dating app and I came across a girl I used to DJ in the same bar as, a lifetime before back in the UK. I opened Facebook and sent her a message, we met up for a beer and she told me that her and some girls from her hostel were meeting up at the beach tomorrow and that I should come along.

The next day came and, well, to be truthful I spent all day in my room writing and revelling in the aircon. Eventually at about 5pm I dragged myself down to the beach bar they were at. We all watched the sun go down and arranged to meet back up at the night market for dinner later.

I went home, had a cold shower, (there only was a cold shower) threw on the clothes I had worn last night and put my daily cash budget in my wallet. I wandered down the dirt road that circumnavigated the island, dodging tourists and locals on mad bicycles and moving well out of the way of the cidomo’s, the donkey powered taxis that plied their trade on the road.

When I reached the market, it turned out that only three of us had made it to dinner. Myself, my ex DJ colleague and another girl, a New Yorker I hadn’t noticed at the beach, as she was sat at the other end of the line of sun loungers. We picked our way through the market, ordering what took our fancy from each of the vendors, obviously washed down with a large bottle of Bintang! I forget the exact amount dinner cost now, but in Australia it wouldn’t even buy you a small beer.

The three of us stayed and chatted for a bit, then decided to head to the local reggae bar. My DJ friend left us to go back to her hostel after the first round of drinks had been consumed, offering for the other girl to go with her, but my new friend was determined to stay at the bar with me. I bought us a round of drinks, and another, then the band came on filling the dancefloor with flip flop (thongs for you Ozzies) wearing travellers, so we decided to join them.

We danced for a while, I managed to get over my British reservedness and settled in to the laid back groove. When the band took a break I needed to cool down, so we headed outside, I bought us both an ice cream, which we ate whilst sitting and watching the life on this small island go by. Then we danced a little more, drank a little more, before my new friend leant over and said:

“Have you seen the sea glow when you kick the water?”

I shook my head.

“Come on, I’ll show you!” she said, dragging me out of the bar to the beach.

She ran in to the shallows once we got to the beach, splashing about like a small child and sure enough the water glowed around her feet. Smiling she ran back up the beach to me.

“See!”

As she held my hand I finally got the signs she had been giving all night and leant in to kiss her. We walked back to her hostel hand in hand, I gave her another kiss as we said goodbye, promising to meet back up tomorrow.

On the walk back to my accommodation I remembered I had run out of water, so dashed in to a convenience store to pick a bottle up. I opened my wallet to pay and had just enough left for the water. I had fully spent my daily budget of 200 thousand rupiah (20 bucks) that night. Why was it the best 20 bucks I ever spent travelling? Well, the girl I kissed that night ended up travelling the whole world with me. We are now settled in Australia and I am proud to call her my wife.

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