Remote Asian Villages And An 800 lbs Albino Gorilla

“After considering suicide, I left my arranged marriage and started traveling.”

I turned around and looked my friend in the eyes, “Oh shit, are you serious?!”

He was dead serious, and to a 29-year-old Muslim man and their family, having the groom leave at 7 am before the wedding was a VERY serious situation. 

And first, let me take a step back and explain this more.

As any good digital nomad travel story starts…..

I was staying in a hostel/coworking space in Bali. Here I met many people and would spend my time exploring, surfing, and hiking around the island with them.

(For the sake of how personal this story is, let’s just call my Muslim friend “Ryan”)

And one of my favorite adventures was when Ryan asked me to go to a waterfall about 30 mins away, then right after we started the drive we made the impulse decision to drive 2.5 hours away to Mt Batur to go explore the north part of the island. 

Lucky for me, Ryan was from East Java and considered a local to the Balinese people.

This was great because he knew how to drive a motorbike in the hectic traffic environment of Indonesia. Not to mention, every time we would go to a super remote part of the island, the locals would charge me extra money for being white 🤦‍♂️. But thanks to Ryan, we had some local clout. 

After a few weeks of traveling around Bali with Ryan in my spare time, he headed back to a small remote village in East Java where he grew up. (and no, he hadn’t seen his family in person since he ran away from his arranged marriage)

He kept telling me to come to visit him in his hometown, but it was a 12-hour drive each way through a country I did not speak the local language. Not only that, the flow of the road is a very dangerous and unique thing here in Asia. Plus where I was going to sleep to break up the 6-hour drive?!

After some convincing, I knew I had to make the journey out to East Java. 

My god I had no idea what 12 hours of driving on the motorbike was going to do to my back and butt. 

After showing up at the wrong house, I met up with Ryan and went back to his place.

One thing became abundantly clear to me…..

I was perceived as an 800 lbs albino gorilla here.

They had never seen a foreign person in their village. And they definitely had never seen a 6’ 1” white person with blonde dreads. I towered over everyone.

In the 4 days I was there I had at least 150 people walk up to me excited and nervous to talk to me. I was surprised by how nice and friendly these people are. 

To my astonishment, Ryan’s entire extended family of about 25 people all lived in 3 buildings right next to each other. 

As a westerner, I was very shocked by how many family members lived in close proximity. 

Just about everything was self-sufficient within their own community, which made for amazing food.

The locals of this village were so nice I was taken aback by their friendliness. 

I even got to experience Eid Al Adha, a Muslim holiday where they sacrifice cows and goats. 

I was fortunate enough to have people show me around the village so I could check out beautiful areas like this waterfall. 

After being told by just about everyone that I needed to stay, I felt super welcomed and a little guilty that I was going to leave after 1 week. 

I was still confused about why I was so important to these people. Why did they feel this way? The only thing I did was show up and have a good time. 

While in this village, I spent a fair bit of time thinking about how I could help them by teaching them the ways of technology and processes we have in the western part of this world. Wouldn’t I be able to make such an impact in their life?!

Then it hit me……..

What did they teach me? What did I learn from a village of people who grew all their own food and 99% of the citizens had never traveled more than 2 hours away?

I learned that:

I want to leave you with one question to answer:

What do you fear in your life that is holding you back from adventuring? From chasing your goals? From building a business? Or anything that you would love to do or have?

Acknowledging your fears is the first step to overcoming them. 

And the best cure to fear is action.

So think of the simplest action step you can take towards your goals, and do it right now!