Barry & Deanna are an Australian couple who relocated to the remote Indonesian island of Sumbawa early this year. Barry works as an expat at a copper & gold mine on the island, while Deanna documents and shares their experiences with beautiful words and photography through her blog, 10 Kilograms. Today, Barry and Deanna are featured on littlegreybox and Deanna is sharing their incredible journey and a little piece of their travel-loving hearts.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m so much cooler online than in reality. It all reads so well – adventure seeker, nature lover, artist, creative heart, bird nerd, stargazer, storyteller… but the reality is I’m an awkward person in reality. See? That’s something I would actually say. Sometimes I don’t communicate very well in person, my words all tumble out at odd angles and run into each other. That’s why I write – it gives me hours, days – even weeks, to figure out exactly what I’m trying to say, and to say it in an orderly manner. I’m a bit of a hermit and I prefer my own company over the company of most other people. I’m happiest when I’m barefoot on the grass or a beach, or when I’m on some sort of adventure that involves scaling a rock wall or hiking up a mountain. I’m a big believer in collecting experiences and moments – not things.
What made you decide to move to Sumbawa?
We had been open to the idea of Barry (Bazil) taking on an expat role overseas for a while, as he’d already been approached a few years ago about working on this jungle island in Indonesia called Sumbawa. It didn’t work out at the time, but strangely enough the same exact opportunity presented itself again at the end of 2013 at a much better time for us and we thought ‘It’s now or never, let’s do it’! I’ve always been open to a new adventure, and while I didn’t ever expect to find myself relocating to a remote, developing island in Indonesia I was determined to embrace the whole experience with an open mind, and while we’re still in the early days of our adventure – so far I have no regrets!
How long did you spend planning for the move?
It was very much an ‘I’m going, see you later” decision! After we were presented with this opportunity, we went over to Sumbawa mid December last year for a ‘site visit’ where we were shown around, and told what we could expect and how we’d find living there should we decide to go through with the move. We liked what we saw, so we signed our contract then and there, and upon our return to Australia, we had just a few weeks to pack up our house, rent it out, sort out a shipment to send over to Sumbawa, settle our Buddy dog into a new home, and wrap up our lives here.
Where have you been and what have you seen?
Bazil works 6 days a week, so we haven’t had many opportunities to go far from ‘home’, but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of long weekends away. On our site visit we spent a few days in Lombok, and also visited Bali briefly. We’ve since been back to Lombok a few times as all of our travel to/from Sumbawa is from Lombok. We’ve also spent a couple of weekends in Bali, stocking up on meat and other grocery/house essentials! We had a few issues with our visa’s (well mainly mine) in the beginning, and as a result we visited Singapore on two occasions as well which was fun.
What have been your highlights, what have been your lowlights?
There have been so many highlights – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said ‘this is one of the best days of my life’ in the last 6 months! Hiking through the jungle to the top of the mountains or to a hidden waterfall. Exploring. Days spent at our own little beach – not another person in sight – swimming, snorkelling, collecting shells and coral. All the beautiful sunsets and dinner dates we’ve had beside the ocean. Afternoons on the golf course – just us (and the occasional local looking to retrieve our lost balls and sell them back to us). Little getaways to Bali and Lombok – the massages, amazing food – so many food highlights alone! Friendly people, so many laughs as we try and communicate in Indonesian. Stargazing on a remote beach, surrounded by fireflies – watching the little lights from the fishing boats dotted on the water.
Lowlights. The hardest thing was saying goodbye to my Buddy dog. We were lucky that we had some kind friends who agreed to look after him for us, but even knowing he was being well cared for didn’t make it any easier to leave him. I couldn’t even talk about it without tears for weeks! Then there were the many frustrations associated with the relocation process – our delayed shipment, visa problems etc. The first week in the jungalow with just the contents of our suitcases.. The days I spent on my own while Barry went to work – without an internet connection, or any method of transport. I didn’t know a single person, and I was unable to successfully communicate with anyone anyway!
There was also a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the mine Barry was working at from day one, that ultimately resulted in production being halted and our untimely return back to Australia, indefinitely. It was frustrating – not knowing how long we’d be there, and now that we’re back in Australia it’s still difficult as we’re not sure if or when we’ll be returning to our jungalow! You can read more about that here
How has this experience changed you, what impact has it had on you and your life?
The whole experience of living in a developing country where people live in poverty, has made me so much more conscious of all of the things we take forgranted living here in Australia. We all hear about it often, but until you’ve existed using only bottled water for everything – drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth etc., you can’t really appreciate what a convenience it is to turn on a tap and having a supply of clean, safe drinking water readily available. That’s just one example of something that has made me appreciate more the comforts of home!
I’ve also learned so much about myself, and my ability to adapt and improvise.
Would you recommend other people do the same thing?
Definitely. Even if it’s just to venture out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Travel gives you a fresh perspective, transforms your thinking and opens your mind.
What has been the best thing about the whole experience?
It’s been good to grow as a person, and learn more about myself but I think the best thing has been the way the whole experience has brought us closer us a couple. We’ve faced so many challenges and shared so many memorable moments together. It’s also been handy on the odd occasion since we’ve been back in Australia to have a mutual understanding of some Indonesian words, for subtle communication purposes!
Just do it. I always think of these words: “travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer”. So pack your bags and throw caution to the wind!