A 25 day blind date across Malaysia & Indonesia


“You are saying this is a trip for the purpose of ‘tourism’ and you will return to India after 25 days?” 

“That’s right.”

“Can I see your hotel bookings for the entire duration?”

“I haven’t booked them yet.”

The lady at the counter looked at me as if I had used one of those words that are forbidden in an airport. The mid-September evening conversation went on for 15 minutes. 15 long minutes, at the end of which I was duly checked-in so I could start my blind date exploring the world. 


Colours of the world leave love birds on a blind date enthralled

As I boarded the flight that night, there was an unexpected thrill. This was an absolutely last minute trip and I barely had a plan in place. For someone who usually has a big excel sheet ready detailing every tiny bit of the itinerary even before a weekend trip begins, this felt like a mammoth undertaking.


Right now all I knew was that I was headed to explore peninsular Malaysia and some of the Indonesian islands. I was all set to arrive in these new lands and take the experiences as and how they presented themselves to me. This was a date- an unplanned, blind but trustworthy one- with the world. And like all dates, excitement and anxiety had taken over equal portions of my brain.

The cabin crew might have wondered why I had such a huge grin on my face all throughout the flight.

Over the next few weeks, my date kept getting more and more interesting as I got to know it better and it kept surprising me with unforgettable and enriching experiences from my blind list. The world was showing me how, at times, it is so important to let go of strict schedules and plans, our inhibitions and insecurities, and instead explore each moment with an open mind as it showed up. 



An open mind is all that is required to explore the world and enjoy it

Lunch with the blind date

Say for example, the first local Malaysian meal I had in the country. It was at a street side restaurant in Penang and nobody spoke or understood English. The moments that followed brought in the universally understood sign language into practice between me and the world. Well, in this case, it was simply lots of pointing, smiling and hoping I am understood. I ended up with a huge bowl of Noodle soup. It was called Ee Mee Soup and it tasted good. Although I didn’t know half of the ingredients in the soup, the date turned out to be flavourful.


Adventure with the blind date

The day I arrived in Malang, a town in Central Java, I didn’t know how long I was going to stay there or how I was going to visit the attractions without burning a hole in my pocket. Irul, a local guide had got in touch with me following my enquiry on a facebook group. We visited one of Indonesia’s best kept secrets, the Tumpak Sewu waterfall. Located about 2 hours outside Malang, reaching the waterfall’s view point is quite straightforward and simple. The challenge begins next. Through a path made of bamboo and ropes, we climbed down to the base of the waterfall. 

The hike takes 20 minutes and involves rickety and hanging bamboo sticks, walking through a waterfall and slippery rocks while holding on to knots in a rope, and crossing a stream with fast flowing knee deep water. Once Irul guided me to the base, I finally looked up and the most amazing sight greeted my eyes. I was standing in a ravine with a U-shaped waterfall splashing water all around me. There was no one else there. It was an incredible sight. In moments like these we realise how tiny a part of the world we are and how much of it remains to be discovered.


A minuscule me standing at the base of Tumpak Sewu as water cascades down the waterfall


What if the date goes sour?

Then there was the time in Bali when my dorm-mate Jacob, who I had just met, and I rented a scooter and went on a 3-hour ride to visit a temple. Neither of us was confident of driving in those narrow streets. But we trusted each other and the desire to see this part of the world made sure a good friendship was forged between the Kiwi and Indian guy. The 3-hour ride began with a flat tyre in the first hour itself. Dates do go sour at times, don’t they?

We quickly found a puncture shop and the translation app on my phone ensured we had a fun conversation with the local mechanic who spoke only Indonesian. Our spirits weren’t hampered even a bit. In fact, Jacob and I ended up traveling together for five days that involved snorkelling with giant turtles, getting lost in the dark riding bicycles without GPS on an island, getting to know how different our part of the world is from the other’s, and sharing our most embarrassing stories and making fun of each other. Shall we ever meet again? We don’t know. Our future blind dates with the world perhaps will ensure our paths cross some time again.


What happens when the blind date invites you home?

On one of my last nights in the country, I happened to be in a hostel in Seminyak and was having a fun chat with the other hostellers after dinner in the common area. Striking a conversation with strangers in a hostel is never difficult even for the big time introvert that I am. It all begins with ‘Hey, where are you from?’ and the conversations follow quite easily if you are openminded enough. 

So this evening everyone decided to head over to a local friend’s house nearby for a house party and play games by the pool. I joined in the plan without much of a second thought. The hours that followed involved a group of 18 strangers from all over the world sitting together and playing ‘Truth or Dare’ and ‘Never Have I Ever’. The late night blind date with the world did turn out to be one of the most fun experiences. Not only did we have a great time, it made me realise how similar people are all over the world. 


The most dreaded question comes right at the end. Will there be a second date?

Will there be a second date?

In hindsight, my 25-day blind date with the world turned out to be one of the best dates I have ever been on- a highly fulfilling and enriching experience, with the perfect dose of shrouded mystery. But the most dreaded question comes right at the end of the date, doesn’t it?

As I got on the flight back home, I realised I didn’t want this date to end. 25 days suddenly felt like very little time together. I knew I was going to miss this time, this sense of freedom, this belongingness in a strange land, this thrill of not knowing where I am headed to next, and this rediscovery of my love for the world. I immediately knew I would want to head on another adventure soon. Probably to another lesser known part of the world. Sooner or later, there will definitely be another blind date with the world.

Perhaps Lufthansa will make it possible for me and for all the explorers out there who #SayYesToTheWorld to explore #TheBlindList. Have you seen this film yet?



Would you go on a blind date with the world? Tell me in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. You have beautifully captured the Indonesian islands, its people and the abundance of experience it provides. Having been there recently I can so relate to it and it took me back to my time flight - the excitement and the anticipation I had too.

    I haven't gone on a blind date, per se. But reading your experience think it's definitely worth going out without a plan. And just let the world take you to the unexplored places just so that you can explore yourself.

    Way to go, Antarik! Keep going on such blind dates.

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    1. Indeed. We stay so glued to our schedules that the freedom of letting go of the plan and enjoying the moment mostly never even occurs to us. You must go on a blind date sometime somewhere for sure Avani. It will be awesome! :)

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  2. What a beautiful way to describe your ''blind date". I hope you will be back to Indonesia again.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely! There is so much more to see there. Not to forget, I have some 'SRK fan' friends there. (The vlog will be out tomorrow) Haha..hope to see you again Elizabeth :)

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  3. The excitement in your post is very contagious. I loved it and now wanna go on a blind date with the world.

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  4. Real tourism doesn't lie in the guided tours across the most visited places. Sometimes it lies in exploring the unknown places without a plan. Till date, I never make an itinerary (thought I have a kind of mental checklist to visit few particular sites) and the fun of a trip lies in letting the new land guide you to its mysteries. I could completely feel the excitement you described when you saw the waterfall alone from a view that is not easy to reach. I could feel the language barrier coming into play at local eateries.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, I had started to roughly plan my itinerary for the last few trips. Your post inspires me to completely let go of any planning and just let the trip unfold. Somehow, I always have a trip limited to maximum 4 days. Your post makes me wonder if I should start taking really long trips until I lose myself and find myself, until I know the world in its pristine essence.

    Really exciting and involving blog entry!

    Keep it up, Antarik and all the best for your next blind date!!!

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    1. Thanks Pallabi!
      As long as you are comfortable with longer duration travel and are willing to go with the flow, not having a detailed plan should be good enough.

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  5. Hahaha, this was the one of most memorable first dates I have read in a long time :D
    Ee Mee Soup, some names are so intriguing. That waterfall is so huge reminds me of baahubali. Have you been to the Athirappilly Falls in Kerala?

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    1. I haven't been to Athirappilly yet but definitely want to. Perhaps some blind date with Kerala will happen at some point suddenly :D
      About Ee Mee Soup, you should check out the vlog from the day (Penang Hill) on my youtube channel and go through the comments on it. Got a very detailed answer as to what it contains from a local Malaysian viewer.

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  6. Your stories have a lasting impression that boggles our imagination into thinking that we are actually the ones behind the lens! I'm sure the voice inside of every reader or viewer of your blog/vlog would unanimously say "kaash humein bhi aise ghumne ko milta" That's probably the strongest and probably the most powerful response/comment/feedback you could ever get �� I hope all this makes sense to you. ��

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  7. This blog post is more like a (travel) column that I'd love to read on a weekly basis. The pictures are spectacular and the magic of words is spell-binding.

    The thing with dates is that you hope for the best and prepare yourself for the worst.

    Dates and travel have one thing in common. To get the best out of them, you must be open to new experiences and you need to learn and unlearn.

    Sometimes, blind dates turn out to be the best ones. ;)

    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks Surbhi. I can't promise on weekly posts on the blog but head over to YouTube and you can find weekly vlogs for sure on my channel ;)

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  8. After reading through your blog it feels like I had a short trip to Malaysia and Indonesia!!! Unconventional places have their own charm.. till now I have always travelled to the crowded commercialised locations..but this entry tempts me to explore the unexplored :)

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    1. Thank you. I wish I knew if this comment is coming from someone I know.

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