So, it turns out I have a million travel stories. Most of them involve me getting into some ridiculous situation, being horribly embarrassed, being awkward, making a fool of myself or just being generally uncool/freaked out. This is my life on a day-to-day basis. I’m not a cool person!
What I realised over the last few weeks was that I have all these hilarious, weird and wonderful travel stories that I really want to share with you guys. So I thought I’d make a start today. If you love reading this, let me know so I can keep sharing these stories with you from time-to-time.
Let us begin…
Matt and I had been dating for a few years and had talked about getting engaged quite a bit. We both knew we were in it for the long haul and we both knew we’d get engaged, we just didn’t know when. So, when we started planning a trip to Bali, all my girlfriends began telling me to expect it to happen. It’s a romantic place, we both love Bali, it’d be perfect for a proposal! At first, I didn’t want to buy into the idea, but when enough people tell you it’s going to happen, you can’t help but get swept up in it all.
We arrived in Bali and each day I was on the lookout for a sign it might be going to happen. After a few days passed, I got the feeling it just wasn’t going to happen on this trip and was just about to give up on the idea altogether when Matt, out-of-the-blue, suggested we climb to the top of Mt. Batur and watch the sunrise over Bali. I didn’t really hear the words, “It’s a big hike up a hugely steep mountain,” I heard the words, “Engagement is imminent. Get your ass up the mountain.”
One very, very important thing you need to know about me is that I hate hiking. I don’t like it one little bit. Normally the idea of hiking 2-3 hours up a very steep mountain in the dark would not appeal to me at all. However, the lure of a proposal at the end of it changed everything. I immediately agreed to do it and, judging by the completely shocked and joyous look on Matt’s face, it wasn’t the response he was expecting either. He was so happy! “I can’t wait,” he said, “It’s going to be amazing. It’ll be something we remember for the rest of our lives. I’m so glad you want to do it.”
We booked the trip. The tour/organiser guys told us we’d be picked up at around 2am because it was a 2-hour drive to the base of the mountain, then a 2-3 hour hike up it in the dark, to catch the sunrise.
Knowing there’d be a proposal at the end of it, I felt unusually motivated to look glamorous. I mean, after I said yes, there’d, of course, be romantic photos and I didn’t want to look feral announcing my super romantic engagement to the world. Duh!
I set an alarm for 1am and snuck around the hotel room in the dark, preparing my pre-engagement self. I straightened my hair, plastered on a flawless face-full of makeup and selected an appropriate, yet cute, hiking outfit. When his alarm went off at 1am, Matt just about fell out of bed in shock. It wouldn’t be completely unlike me to cancel the hiking trip altogether at the very sound of the 2am alarm, so to be up, dressed and ready to go was unheard of.
I sat on the bed and watched him get ready, a little buzz of excitement swelling in my tummy. My mind was racing with a thousand questions, ‘Where was the ring? What did it look like? Where was he hiding it? What was he going to say?’ I eyed him carefully, watching for any signs of a ring being sneakily tucked into a discreet pocket.
We walked out of the hotel room, but once we reached the elevator, Matt made an announcement, “Oh, shit. I’ve left my wallet back in the room. Better go grab it.” I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “Oh yeah, your wallet. Sure, yeah. Better go get that.” It was obvious he was making that up to go back and grab the ring without me seeing him. Nice try, Matt. Nice. Try.
After a very long 2 hours in the back of a car, we arrived at the base of the mountain. We began the climb. It was really hard going, especially for someone who doesn’t hike and really doesn’t enjoy doing it in the first place. My legs ached and my head began to swim, my tummy doing flips and knots and all kinds of weird things.
About halfway up I started to feel really nauseous. “We can go back,” offered Matt, “You don’t look well, we don’t need to do this.”
“NO!! ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’M FINE!” I shot back, in a really cool, calm manner. There was no way this hike was going to stand between me and the most romantic moment of my entire, stupid life. I kept going, but about 100m further up the sheer cliff-face, the nausea got worse. I ran off into the bushes and threw up.
Now Matt was really concerned. “That’s it, we’re going back. This is too much, it’s not worth it.” I refused, pushing him out of my way and taking off to scramble up the rocks. I don’t really know who was more shocked, Matt, at the sight of his hiking-loathing girlfriend tearing up a mountain like a madman or our guide, watching a pathetic white girl, way too dolled up to be hiking, throwing up in the bushes but attacking the cliffs like a pro.
After a LOT of strenuous work, we reached the top of the mountain. Not surprisingly, Matt suggested we sit somewhere secluded, away from the other sunrise-gazers. He led me to a comfortable little clearing, secreted away, with the perfect view to watch the sunrise. After getting me a sweet cup of tea, he snuggled me in close to his chest and we sat, waiting for the sun to peep over the horizon.
I stilled myself. ‘This is it,’ I thought, ‘You’ve always wondered what this moment would feel like and now it’s here. Enjoy it, it’s going to be perfect.’
As the sun’s first bright orange rays lit up the darkness, I began to tremble with excitement. It was about to happen. Within a few minutes, the whole landscape came alive. The sun burst over the horizon and lit up the valley with shades of bright red, orange and gold spilling over the lush greenery, it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen.
Matt pulled me close to him and kissed my temple. This was it. “I love you,” he said. Oh my god, it’s happening, bitch! “I can’t believe we’re here, in such a beautiful place,” he continued, “I love sharing my life with you and I’m so happy to have moments like these. There’s nobody I’d rather be with and nowhere I’d rather be.” Just bloody say it already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He paused and looked at me, taking in a breath then letting it go. He took my hands in his and looked at me longingly, “Well, Phoebe, I thought about proposing to you up here, but, ahhhhhh, yeah, I’m not going to. So, do you want another cup of tea or what?”
My jaw actually dropped. The shock took the wind right out of me. “What the HELL? What do you mean you thought about it but you aren’t going to? What are you DOING?” I asked in a totally cool, not psycho way.
He laughed, “Yeah, well, I thought this would be perfect but, I don’t have a ring and stuff so, yeah. Also, there’s no rush or anything so I’ll do it another time.” It suddenly dawned on him, “Oh my god. OH MY GOD! Is that why you’ve got so much makeup on? Is that why you said yes to hiking? I thought that was really weird. You HATE hiking,” at this point he began laughing uncontrollably and rightly so because I’m an idiot.
And THAT is the very real story of how I busted my ass, hiking up the side of the world’s biggest mountain, all dolled up like a Barbie, expecting to be proposed to but being met with the words, “I thought about it, but I’m not going to.” What. The. F#!k.
Matt did end up proposing many, many months later eye roll and it was romantic, but the story of how we actually got engaged pales in comparison to the hilarious story of how we didn’t and it has become the story people request when they want a laugh at my dumb-ass expense. “Hey, Phoebe, tell this guy the story of how you didn’t get engaged.”
Oh, you may be wondering, as most people do when I tell this story, “Back at the hotel, what did he go back for?” his wallet. He really did forget it. There was no secret ploy to sneak an engagement ring into his pocket. My insane mind dreamed that up.
Note: there are very few photos from that trip, so all the photos used in today’s story are from a different trip we took to Sumbawa, Indonesia)