This Expat Life: Month 25 (Bali)

After moving abroad in July 2014, I started compiling monthly roundup posts about life as an expat in Asia and all the nitty gritty that goes on behind the scenes here at Travel Lush. You can find all of my previous monthly roundup posts here.


As I’m writing this, all I can think about is how quickly the past two months passed me by. I can’t believe my summer in Indonesia came and went so quickly. July went by fast, but the month of August went by way too quickly.

I know, I know. Poor me. I mean how many people can say they got to spend the summer working, living and traveling in Bali. It’s pretty cool. But, to be honest, after having a pretty great July I started the month of August out in a bit of a rut.

Spending day after day staring at a laptop can have that effect on a person. But still, there were other things at play.

At the beginning of August I was only a month into my two-month stint in Indonesia but already I was dreading having to leave. I’ll get more into the reasons why in a bit, but when August rolled around it felt like my time in Indonesia was already up.


The reality was that I still had 31 days until my Indonesian visa expired. So instead of having a full on pity party for the rest of the month, something I’ve been known to do, I decided that perhaps a change of scenery would do Aaron and I some good.

After spending three weeks working out of a small studio apartment in Canggu I think we were both going a tad bit stir crazy. Sure having an apartment meant that working from home was easier – there was more room to spread out and we were able to cook our own meals. But I also couldn’t help but feel like we weren’t being active enough or taking advantage of being in Bali.

We loved Canggu, we even discussed how easy it would be to someday live there. We thoroughly enjoyed touring Canggu’s amazing street art, swimming in the ocean’s big waves, motorbiking through the rice terraces, and overindulging in Canggu’s ridiculously veg-friendly restaurants. But it was time to move on.

street art canggu bali 3 (1 of 1)

rice terraces canggu bali (1 of 1)

So, with only three weeks left in Bali, we strapped on our backpacks (and computer bags) and hit the road. During the next few weeks we had the chance to visit two of my favorite places in Bali — Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan.

First up was a quick weekend trip to Penida. Nusa Penida is an island off the coast of mainland Bali. I was lucky enough to visit last year, but because my trip was cut short I was only able to spend one fleeting day exploring the island. My time there was brief, but I fell in love with Nusa Penida and have been waiting to return. So when I first found out I’d be spending the summer in Bali, I knew I’d at least be making a stop in Nusa Penida.

One of the many seaweed farmers on Nusa Penida.

Nusa Penida managed to blow my mind, yet again. It’s a fairly big island, with confusing roads, and being back I quickly realized that I’d missed a bunch of amazing natural attractions during my first visit. This time around I actually made it to hidden Atuh Beach, jaw-dropping Broken Beach and otherworldly Billabong. And guys, there is so much more I didn’t have the chance to see. I might have crashed my motorbike once and then driven into a ditch but it was worth it. Nusa Penida is a beautiful island.

Broken Beach.
Atuh Beach (aka paradise).

After Penida, Aaron and I hopped a boat over to neighboring Lembongan and checked into a hillside bungalow overlooking the stunning Jimbaran Bay and a massive Balinese volcano. Waking up to this view every morning made me happy – and it made working from my hotel room a much more blissful experience.





After Lembongan, we spent the last few nights in Kuta, the place where all of our trips to Bali seem to begin and end. And after one final sunset beer on Kuta Beach, we said goodbye to Indonesia, yet again.

My two months in Bali had their ups and downs but above all I realized that there is something I love about Indonesia, something that makes me feel almost at home.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m not excited to be back in Beijing. I’m excited to be at home in one place, I’m excited to get back into my routine, I’m excited to explore more of this amazing city and to see the few friends I’ve made.

But guys when you hear that your apartment building has been turned into a full on construction site over the summer it makes it really, really difficult to get excited about going home. The building I currently live in has been almost completely gutted, aside from a handful of apartments that are inhabited by the lucky residents who were “allowed” to stay in the complex during the renovations. Given that the building is 10 storeys tall and that it currently looks like a bombed-out mess with no windows, missing walls, rouge wires and dirt floors it doesn’t look like the “one month” time frame we have been promised will come close to being met.

Hopefully it will all work out, and hopefully I can keep my sanity during the months it will take the workers to finish the project. But I can’t say I’m thrilled about living in a literal construction site…Deep breaths.

Work & Blogging

While I managed to blog fairly regularly (for me that means once a week) in July, I was so busy with work, freelance gigs and trying to travel on my precious weekends that I decided my time should not be spent blogging. I did write a great little guide on touring all the amazing street art in Bali though, so if you’re headed that way and you’re a street art enthusiast you should check it out here.

I also had an article published The Jakarta Post over the summer. When I lived in Indonesia I worked as a regular contributor for their lifestyle section so writing this article, reflecting on my experiences in Indonesia, meant a lot to me.


A lot of people go to Bali expecting picture-perfect white sand beaches with turquoise water. But the reality is that those beaches are few and far between on Bali. That being said, there are quite a few magazine-worthy beaches dotted around the island. And this beach near Uluwatu was ridiculously gorgeous.



How did your August shape up?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

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