The Last

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End May 08, 2007

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, May 2, 2007

For some reason, which I assume is my hair, everyone here in Kuta thinks I'm either Italian or Brazilian. This one guy who works at a travel company always sees me walk past. He calls me Valentino Rossi. The first time he yelled it I just ignored him, but the name sounded familiar. I stopped and called back, "Valentino Rossi the motorcycle racer?" I'd seen him race at Laguna Seca a couple years ago for the World MotoGP.
I was about to write that I look absolutely nothing like him being that he's 4 inches taller than me and 17 pounds lighter than me. Then I looked up pictures of him on Google, and sure enough he has the Italian version of the Jewfro. How about that? Good call, Balinese travel agent guy!

Of course the reaction to the truth is somewhat less flattering than being compared to the world's best motorcycle racer. Just after finishing the above paragraphs, I decided to take a break. This internet cafe is attached to a pharmacy. When I went up to pay for my time online, I received the usual question. You from Brazil? I said no, that I'm American. His face lit up and he was ecstatic to inform me that they carried Viagra which would make me a "very strong man". We Americans certainly have an interesting image in the minds of the rest of the world.

Today is actually my very last day here in Kuta. My last day on Bali. It is, in fact, my last full day of the entire trip. I've spent 5 days here in Kuta. Most were the same: shopping for gifts, tanning on the beach, reading, and going to a Japanese place T.K. told me about for dinner. That's right, I've had elaborate sushi dinners every night for the past five nights. I've always said that if I had to have one food for every meal for the rest of my life it'd be sushi. I stand by that statement now more than ever. And that is the last time I'll mention food on this travelogue.
There are a lot of lasts that I'm noticing. I checked into my last hotel (Maha Bharata); rode my last motorbike (the Honda SupraFit). Tonight will be my last night under a mosquito net. Tomorrow morning I'll take my last cold shower. I tend to get very nostalgic and very attached at the end of things, so I figured that writing this entry on my last night might lend it something it wouldn't otherwise have. This trip has meant everything to me for the last two and a half years. (That's when I first began planning this excursion). It's impossible for me to fully grasp the finality that tomorrow will bring. I'm sure I'll find myself on board my China Airlines flight tomorrow with little memory of how I got there; my backpackers' muscle memory having taken care of everything while my mind wandered.
I sat on the porch of my bungalow this afternoon and listened for a few hours. The sounds here are very similar to much of the rest of Asia. They couldn't be more dissimilar from the sounds I remember from home. I took in those sounds and let my mind drift over the last six and a half months. Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia. Eleven countries. Twenty-three major cities. Over a dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites. Countless locals and fellow travelers. I can't seem to decide which is more surreal: that it's ending, or that it happened at all.
I really have no idea of what to expect when I get home. I hope I'll be happy to be back, but realize that I might be disappointed. As with every step of this trip, Gretchen gave me some advice on returning home. I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her publicly.

"It's an odd phase, isn't it, the almost-going-home part. Some part of you is ready, the other isn't, the other is both trepidatious and bored simo. There is no real way to wrap your mind around what is next in terms of US life-what kind of job, grad school, ugh,... And it gets-in all honesty- worse when you get home. You've had all these things happen, all these sights that are imprinted on you now-how you filter light and thought and interactions-and to you it will seem like the rest of all of us are just going to CostCo. It's odd-be ready."

I'm not sure how ready I am, but that's really not the issue. At 3:20pm tomorrow I'll take off from Denpasar here on Bali to Taipei, then from Taipei to San Francisco. It'll happen whether I'm ready or not; whether I want it or not. At the moment, I'm entirely ignorant of how I feel. Anything compulsory, therefore, holds comfort. That includes the sleep I know I'll need to get tonight. And having now related just about everything I can, I'll go to that sleep.
Thanks for reading.
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