I wasn’t supposed to go to Bali.
However… Shannon was getting married. Shannon was the first friend I made in Okinawa 100% on my own. She is not in the military, our husbands don’t work together, and we live on opposite sides of the island, yet somehow, ever since we met in November, we’ve become somewhat of a unit.
For months we planned her wedding together. I’d recently planned my own wedding, so I was still brimming with ideas! We scoured websites for dresses and shoes. We weighed the merits of what felt like hundreds of cakes and floral arrangements. We changed the color scheme half a dozen times (I’m not kidding). But the whole time, despite how much I wished I could be there to watch it all come together– I never looked at tickets.
Dane and I had booked our honeymoon for the beginning of June and her wedding was at the very end of May. It just didn’t seem possible for me to do both.
About a month before the big day, her mom mentioned how much she would like to hire a photographer to take some family pictures of Shannon, her sisters and their parents- separate from the wedding. Shannon had the photographer lined up for the wedding day, but it was not going to be cheap to line him up for a second day. I suggested maybe they hire a flytographer, a service I have always wanted to use that hooks tourists up with fabulous local photographers, but that was not a very affordable option either.
As I was researching flytographer prices on the desktop and Shannon was scanning photographer websites on the laptop, I quickly did a search to see how much a flight to Bali would be from Okinawa for the next month. You know… just out of curiosity.
Suddenly, without knowing what I was searching for, Shannon said, “You know, you could always come and take them yourself…” Now, dear readers, please remember, that at this point I am still marketing myself only as an enthusiastic “picture taker”… not a photographer. And my prices reflect that. “We just need a few good shots… plus then you could tell yourself you were coming to work.”
We looked again at the ticket pricing. “You could stay with my sisters in their villa,” she prodded. I started breaking it down in my mind. Maybe she was right. Maybe I could turn this into a working holiday after all. Sure, time would be kind of crunched, but as long as I have internet, I can work. If I brought my computer and promised myself to finish editing the milestone photoshoot, beach baby session, and newborn session I had scheduled the week before Bali, I wouldn’t be that behind. I could bump the maternity photoshoot I’d scheduled out one more week and do it in the week between Bali and Africa. Picture-taker-wise, it was doable.
Okinawa Hai turned out to be the real kicker. I needed to schedule almost a full month out in order to cover the time I was going to be away in Africa. I had promised myself that I was not going to do any work while we were on our honeymoon. I wasn’t even planning to check my email while I was gone. And now I was thinking about adding another week of being away from my desk. Sure, I can work wherever there is internet, but it’s hard to stay on top of everything when you’re away.
Then again… it’s Bali. And if you have to work from somewhere, it might as well be a villa in Indonesia. Plus- one of my closest friends was getting married. Plus- I had helped plan the wedding. Plus- I needed to see it come together! Plus- they needed someone to take family photos! I was doing them a service!
Done. I’d convinced myself. So with a couple of clicks of the mouse: I was Bali bound– for what I promised myself would be a working holiday. And it was. (For the most part.)
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.