Mimi: My Happy Hour Buddy
Indonesia: Gili Air, Bali.
Like many of the people in Bali, I met Mimi in Canggu – the hub for most travellers to go and party until their bodies were depleted of energy, joy and sense. But any traveller can testify to say it’s all worth it. After spending a certain amount of time there, though, you needed some serious R&R. Mimi and I briefly met there but she left our hostel on that day.
Luckily, our paths crossed again on the small island to the east of Bali, called Gili Air. Turns out we were both there for the same reasons – to get out of Canggu and take it easy for a few days. I remember having arrived and not really clicking with anyone thus far. But then Mimi walked through the gates and immediately I went over, hoping she would remember me. I got back in touch with her recently and we caught up on our memories together:
“I specifically went to Gili air because I was so tired of people, I wanted to just do my own thing, didn’t want to talk to anyone and then you came along and I was like: I can talk to her! She’s good!”
Mimi is one of those people who has such an inviting energy and smile that makes you feel like you’re already her friend (even if you’d known her for approximately 7 minutes, as I had). We were staying at what was possibly one of the coolest-designed hostels I’d been to – it was – to match the hallucinogenic ‘shrooms being in popular supply/demand on the islands – mushroom themed. The pool was a giant Super Mario toadstool-shaped thing which was the first thing you saw as you walked in, with the modern, raised, straw-roofed huts dotted around the perimeter. It was a friendly place to be and I remember Mimi and I spending a lot of lazy mornings/afternoons just laying in the sun, bobbing in that pool to cool off every so often.
“I think we hung out for literally two days but it was a really good two days.”
We’d both wanted to get away from the party scene, so what did we do? Scoped out a beach bar to partake in their happy hour.
It was the perfect evening. The sun was a burning orange sinking into the horizon, where we snapped the Instagram-influencer money shot on the swings, sat on our beanbags, listened to the live music while stuffing our faces with delicious food. The next day we were going on the snorkelling boat trip, so we took it easy.
“I think we both went to Gili Air because we needed a break from Gili T and all the drinking, so then we went for cocktails, of course! And I got serenaded by the guy playing Green Day on the guitar.”
The boat zoomed around the neighbouring islands and we jumped off now and again to spot the turtles and other wildlife, getting back on the boat to sunbathe on the roof. But when we stopped for lunch, probably a combination of heat exhaustion, detoxing from all the booze and dehydration, poor Mimi fainted at the table! Everyone swarmed around her to help and I fetched something sugary for her to drink. She was totally fine but bless her, a little mortified:
“Oh my god, it was the first time I’ve ever fainted in my life. I remember we were on that cruise, on the top of the boat, having the time of our lives and then we went for lunch and suddenly I was on the ground! But great bonding moment, right?!”
What was so lovely about Mimi is how comfortable I felt with her – we had such good talks about boys, current predicaments and future anxieties. I remember us sitting on a quieter corner of the island, eating some gross food at a restaurant we’d settled for and just having a good heart to heart. The food sucked but just having that silence around us and a deeper human connection – compared to other times travelling, when people constantly come and go – was what I really needed at the time.
We also talked about where we were headed next, what our plans were – and over our zoom call she recounted her time after Bali in Tel Aviv, where she’s lived previously:
“Ah Tel Aviv: I tell everyone to go – I mean you need money to go – but the food is amazing and I’ve never been to a city with such an amazing atmosphere.”
We then got to talking about the States (where Mimi is originally from – Rochester, NY to be specific) and how underrated the landscape is there:
“People never realise this, but the States have the most beautiful nature, especially out west. But no one ever goes to the US for the nature; they go for the big cities and I’m like GO CAMPING! Go to Utah, go to Colorado, go skiing, it’s amazing.”
We discussed from which parent we developed the travel bug: me, my dad, and Mimi her mother, who flew out to meet her during her 6 months travelling:
“I started in Cambodia and flew to Hanoi and met her there. Initially we were going to meet in Laos, but she changed her mind and we motorcycled around the north of Vietnam for 3-4 weeks, which was awesome.”
I asked her if she had any other particularly memorable experiences travelling:
“I have to say Java, in general. I loved it; it was the place I saw the most nature. Quite often, when you’re travelling, you tend to go from city to city and there it was just so stunning. I did so many hikes that were so difficult, but then you’d get to the top and have this sense of achievement and awe. You’d see the sun rising over these mountains or volcanoes and it was so special.
“I also went to Malang where you walk into this area, which is supposed to be a slum, but the whole village has been painted into these beautiful rainbow colours.
“I went snorkelling with a German girl and it’s the most beautiful coral I’ve seen – like it’s alive, not dead. It’s this vibrant tiny little island off Java where the locals go for tourism, but no one knows it exists!”
We both got to talking about climbing Mount Bromo in East Java, which is one of the things to do there.
“You know you can walk to the crater – I went in the afternoon [when there were fewer tourists]. I was told about this secret passage where I didn’t have to pay. I went down and I was literally the only person there walking around this huge crater by myself. I remember looking around like ‘holy shit’ it was so quiet. But just imagine you’re in a volcano crater, there are rocks everywhere, you’re by yourself…”
We got to talking about just how small the world is, when she told me a story to underline really just how tiny it is:
“I was on the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai [Thailand], and it turned out I got chatting to a girl and a guy next to me. It turned out he literally lives in the town over back home. I asked if he knew my mutual friends (and he did!). We hung out for a while and it also turned out he was living in Berlin and his female roommate was a girl I went to high school with, who I was also in a sorority with!”
It gets weirder.
“And she’s the girl who hit my little brother with her car (but it’s all good he’s totally ok!). But man, seriously – what a small world. I went to Berlin to visit the same guy and he came to see me too – he’s a really cool person.”
ALL OF THE CHILLS. And I can confirm once again her little brother is totally fine!
I had something similar happen, where I bumped into a friend from high school in the rural town of Cat Ba, of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Then I met a girl who’d gone to high school in my sister’s class and lived in the same town as me in Chiang Mai. I can’t tell you how spooky and wonderful it feels when those encounters happen – but as you can see, they happen far more often than you’d expect!
It was Mimi’s idea to catch up and do the interview over Zoom in the first place and I’m so glad she suggested it. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known how happy she is in the Netherlands and how she’s planning on staying out there long term:
“I love it here. I’ll definitely live here a few more years. I like Europe, I like the people and I know for sure I won’t go back to the States. I wasn’t sure for a while, but now I know. I think the Netherlands will become my home, but it depends on who I meet and if I can create a life here.”
When she told me that I felt so warm with joy for her – she’d really found her home in the world.
Finally, I asked her what the 3 main things she’d learned while travelling:
- Be yourself unapologetically. “Before I started travelling, I’d actually started seeing a therapist because I wasn’t happy with myself; I just thought people wouldn’t accept the ‘real’ or ‘weird’ me. But when I was travelling I was like ‘Fuck it, I’m just gonna do me, who else am I gonna be?’ But then I realised people like me for exactly who I am. So I’d say the number 1 biggest thing I learned through this trip was learning to be comfortable with myself. Travelling really opened those doors.”
- Be a ‘yes’ person. “Experience everything – don’t always say no. There’s sometimes stuff you aren’t sure about doing that you get pushed randomly to do and it ends up being the best night of your life. You never know what’s going to come so stay open to all possibilities!”
- Gain the weight!!! “You may not be happy with it at the time, but God, you won’t regret that food. Do I regret anything I ate? Fuck no!”
Words we all need to live by.
We closed our call by promising to be one another’s tour guides in London/Amsterdam respectively once all of this is behind us, Mimi getting particularly excited about all the things Harry Potter. I look forward to catching up with her over some girly cocktails (or butter beers) again hopefully in the future!
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.