Yes you read the title of this post correctly. I travel to island nations based the contents of crystal balls.
Let me break it down for you.
In November 2014 I was lucky enough to attend a month long writer’s workshop in Ubud, Bali, during which time one of the more awesome attendees (hi Rachel!) put me onto a Balinese fortune teller/healer. Because, hello! Eat, Pray, Love! Who doesn’t want their very own “Ketut” experience?
When I finally sat down in front of Tunjung I was wide-eyed and trembling, because while I’d hoped she would tell me only good things, for some reason I expected it to be all bad. I shouldn’t have worried though. Thankfully I didn’t hear about how I was going to die in a freak hair drying incident during the next lunar eclipse. I won’t go into all the details. Mostly what she told me was centred around me needing to learn how to love myself or my time in this particular meat suit was going to be a bag of dicks.
One of the things she did say was that she knew I wanted to go to India. This was spot on because I’d been dreaming about running away to Goa for months, to write in a hut on the beach. But when she looked at the blubbering mess of tears in front of her (because: truth bombs) she advised that India would be too much for me. Apparently I still needed some work and its crazy energy would crush me like a bug (my words, not hers). So instead she gently suggested Sri Lanka would be more suited to a delicate little potato chip like me.
Fast forward a year. I’d been seconded into a role managing a team at work, to cover my manager’s maternity leave, and as a chronic people-pleaser with imposter syndrome, the role was stressing me out. I’d decided I was rubbish at my job and so, most mornings, I crept into work convinced I was about to be fired for knowing nothing about anything. In just under twelve months I’d ballooned, since most of my downtime was spent stress-eating chocolate in the foetal position, and I was chronically tired. (That particular story ends with adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, leaky gut and cracked teeth, but I’m trying to keep this tale mostly upbeat.) Even though I had a trip already planned for Zimbabwe and South Africa for several months later I asked my boss for a break. Luckily he didn’t make me beg.
So with my leave approved I quickly set about Googling where I could spend my precious two weeks of freedom. And then I remembered what the fortune teller in Bali had told me about Sri Lanka and it all got very easy after that.
And Sri Lanka didn’t disappoint.
The country is almost unbelievably beautiful, the weather during my time there was amazing and the people are warm. (Hot tip if you’re on international roaming don’t give your number to a tuk-tuk driver because him and his family will phone you every day just to say hi.)
I spent most of the time at a surf camp on the south coast, and I even bonded with a few peeps–until I told them why I was there. A group of us had jumped on one of the local buses that fly up and down the winding coastal road, to head out for a nice dinner. Sitting at a table on the beach, over a plate of grilled calamari with my toes stuck in the cold beach sand, I admitted that I was in Sri Lanka on the advice of a fortune teller. They thought I was a little strange and avoided eye contact after that.
The point of this post isn’t to perpetuate the romantic notion of “finding oneself”. I didn’t meet the man of my dreams or experience some life-affirming epiphany during a seven hour meditation on the top of a mountain. Sri Lanka didn’t “save” me. But it did give me space to breath and take a look at my life and realise that I was dying a little inside every day. The point of this post is to remind you (and me) that all we can do is follow the clues and see where they lead.
It’s no coincidence that a year later (almost to the day) I quit my job. And for the time being I’m getting on (more) planes and I’m writing stories; I’ll be trying new things and likely making mistakes while hoping something sticks. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t and I’ll be back at work, trying not to be such a weirdo. I don’t know but I’m giving this a try at least.
And in case you read this post in the hopes of actually finding something useful for any upcoming trips you might have planned to Sri Lanka I have included some links for you below:
- The surf school on the coast, which I’d recommend
- The beautiful little hotel I stayed in Ella
- The seriously dope hostel where I stayed in Colombo
- The tea factory I visited in Ella
- The company that makes the cool Endless Summer print (that I had framed when I got home)
And here’s the link for Tunjung, who I would definitely recommend if you’re ever in Ubud.
Please tell me someone else has more random reason than me for getting on a plane somewhere on a whim? I’d love to hear all about it over on my new Facebook page!