Published in South East Asia Globe Magazine. Photo by Johannes P. Christo.
When Budi pulls into 9 Angels, a quiet café tucked beneath a passion fruit grove just south of Bali’s yoga mecca of Ubud, he makes sure to stash his motorbike behind a jungle-green wall. As we speak, Budi is present but not really there. His eyes follow passing cars as he nervously stirs his tea, his forehead damp with sweat. He insists he’s in danger any time he’s in Ubud, that he’s a wanted man.
There was a lot riding on this trip, my friends. Japan has been my top destination for longer than I care to remember, and we had to cancel our tickets there in 2015 due to being, well, unable to walk or move. Fittingly, the trip got off to a fairly ridiculous start.
"Where is your girlfriend?" "My girlfriend?" I asked, staring at the Japanese gentleman at the AirAsia ticket counter in the Bali airport.
"I'm traveling alone."
"Yes, I see that sir. But where is she?"