I Didn’t Know I Kept A Priceless Piece of Trash

“This room is offensive!”

That’s how my mom described my room. Of course she wasn’t talking about the smell but probably about the way I arrange(okay, maybe “disarrange” would be a better term) it. Yes, it’s one helluva labyrinth in there and yes it sounds as bad as  it looks. So 2 days ago, I decided to clean my room. Wall to wall, Ceiling to floor. The cleaning process is still ongoing as of this writing though.

It was about 4pm and the sun was moments away from setting. The sun’s rays were concentrated on one corner of the room and I barely had enough light on the rest so I decided to start cleaning in that corner. I called it the “paper corner”. It was where all of the papers were stashed. From old and new bank statements to receipts, bills, certificates, old notebooks from school, books, maps, calling cards and anything that came from pulp. I even found my college diploma in the pile. I was surprised I didn’t find the Rosetta Stone somewhere in that corner.

I was trying to segregate everything into the ones which were important enough to keep, and the ones which were going into the drum of fire for incineration when I came across what I thought was a worthless old receipt. As it turns out, it was priceless rather than worthless. If you’ve read the post about my adventures in Bali, I mentioned something about a near-death experience. This piece of memorabilia holds every single memory I’ve had about that day. Memories that, to this day, still gives me shivers…literally.

bali scooter receipt

It happened on January 28, 2012, just days after my birthday. Just like, any other day in any other trip, I woke up all giddy with the thought of not knowing what this day has in store for me. The great rush of not having an itinerary and the ultimate adrenaline rush for any traveller. I immediately jumped out of bed and with eyes half-closed, went straight to the shower. The moment the ice-cold Kuta water splashed through my head and into my shoulders, I could feel all my senses start to awaken. I had that feeling that this was gonna be a great day to explore.  I walked out of my guesthouse room and started walking towards Jn. Legian which is a good 5 minutes away. At this point, I still didn’t know where to go or what to do so I stopped by a tourist information Kiosk at the corner of the street and started browsing through tour brochures. Just by skimming through the photos without even reading the description, a trip to Ubud was the obvious choice. Don’t ask… I just made a couple of inquiries about package tours and transport options but everything was way over my budget. Even the van ride was gonna cost me about 100,000IDR(over $10) which is more than half of the day’s budget.
This has become a major obstacle considering I was on a very tight budget.

I was on the brink of giving up the trip to Ubud when a “light bulb” moment struck me. I remembered seeing handwritten ads of motorbikes and scooters for rent so I thought, why not? 50,000IDR($5) for a 24-hour scooter rental was a pretty decent price. But there was a little problem…I don’t even know how to ride a motorbike or at least I didn’t know I did. But for some reason, my adventurous reckless alter-ego took over and without hesitation, I put on the helmet and hopped on the scooter. The owner of the bike rental shop then wished me a safe trip and just as soon as I made the first turn right outside his shop, it was obvious that it was my first time. His well-wishes turned to concern and his “drive safe” turned to “be careful”. I wasn’t sure if he was more concerned about my safety or if he was scared I might return his scooter in pieces. Either way, it was too late for him to stop me and there was no turning back for me. Armed with a helmet and a map, I set out to pursue my cultural trip to Ubud which was about 2-3 hours away from Kuta.

Just a few minutes after the “shaky” start to my first ever solo motorbike ride, I started to get the hang of it and I was a lot more relaxed. It was so liberating to feel the wind blowing stronger in your face as you crank the throttle a little more. Before I knew it I was going 80kph on a Balinese highway. What I didn’t know at that time was that making sharp turns at that speed isn’t that easy. It isn’t anything like riding a bicycle as what most people would tell you, not even close. I learned this difference the hard way. While I was cruising the highway at about 70kph, I didn’t notice the relatively sharp turn ahead and so I didn’t bother slowing down to prepare for the turn. I was going too fast to make that turn and I ended up in the opposite lane and right in the path of a small pick-up vehicle. I then swerved left and he swerved to his left as well, each of us trying to avoid a head-on collision with one another. My handlebar was within inches(yes, this isn’t exaggerated) from his vehicle. It could’ve been an ugly conclusion to my trip but I knew God has sent his angel to look after me that day. I wasn’t on a solo trip after all. I knew I had just barely dodged the grim reaper by inches. I felt my whole body tremble and all of a sudden I felt weak. Even my fingers barely had enough strength to squeeze the brakes. I was all jittery and I knew I was bound to make more mistakes if I carried on right away so I stopped at the side of the road to compose myself. I can still hear my heart banging against my chest at 200 beats a minute. It took me about 10 minutes of deep breathing and a lot of contemplating of what could’ve been to finally return to my senses.

I know I should’ve turned back, returned to my guesthouse, and took the rest of the day off but I didn’t. I went on the the trip and as a result, I ended up having one of the best experiences of my life, make that My 2nd life! Within hours from that, I was able to bathe and cleanse my soul in the cold waters of Tirtha Empul in Tampak Siring, marvel at the amazing view of Mt. Batur from Kintamani, watch a traditional Hindu celebration and get a glimpse of my future as told by Ketut Liyer(the Eat, Pray Love palm reader) in Pengosekan. But most of all, I learned a very important lesson on how fragile and uncertain this life can be.

When we travel, it is imperative that we take home souvenirs and memorabilia. Some more expensive than others and some we get for free. It be a key chain, a “beer brand” shirt, fridge magnets, postcards or whatever you feel like taking home. These items are more than just reminders of a place we’ve been to. Sometimes they hold memories, they tell a whole story of a major event that has molded us into the person we’ve become. Sometimes, they remind us of how great our perspectives has changed and how much we have grown. So the next time you ever think about throwing away a worthless piece of trash, think again. It might turn out to be something priceless. Think about it, would you throw away a memory card full of awe-inspiring photos?

Thought so…

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