The Bali Shop


An orange poster in the window caught my attention, “Casual Help Wanted”.  The store had all sorts of Balinese exports.  The rowdy streets of Kuta and haggling over cheap treasures flooded my memory.  The main differences are that there was no haggling, no sound of motorbikes streaking by and the prices were 500% higher.

“Hi, my name is Ross and I’m applying for the position you have available.”  A middle age woman with a nose ring looked at me and stated, “I don’t know if you want the job.  We aren’t exactly paying minimum wage and we don’t know how long we will be here.”  I responded, “That’s fine, work is tough to come by here.  When can I start?”

The next morning I skated the 3 minutes down to the shop for my first shift.  Her husband, “Warren” was there in a pair of shorts that looked like they belonged on a teenage girl and I helped him unload imports into the store.  He began, “You from the States, mate?” I nodded.  “I love America!  I could live there.  It’s the best place in the world!” he gushed.  “We are pretty lucky,” I returned.  Warren continued, “Mate, you guys have the best food in the world…the all you can eat buffets are beautiful.  The entertainment is amazing…bloody hell, you have Gilligan’s Island!”  I affirmed (while chuckling), “Those are two massive contributions we have made to humanity.  Sounds like you have hit all the highlights of our country.”

Sue (the woman with the nose ring) told me they had filled a crate with stuff from Bali a few years ago and shipped it all back for an online store that never gained traction.  They were essentially liquidating the inventory.  I have never heard her say anyone’s name.  It is always love, dear, or sweetie…to everyone.  She caught a girl stealing and told the thief, “Love, either pay for the necklace or put it back.”  When I worked at Surf and Skate and we caught someone pilfering merchandise we would tackle them!  It was a peculiar approach but worked.  Later that day she told me, “If you don’t know the price of something, just charge what you think.”

Nug brought me lunch that first day and they asked if she wanted to work there too.  That was interesting since no less than 6 people had come in and asked about a job during the morning.  It has worked out nicely so far as we have been able to set our own schedule of 2-3 days per week.  Nug and I can split the 8 hour shift anyway we want.  They do not care which of us is there.  It’s definitely not going to further our careers but we will be free to hit the road when family and friends get here.

Work uniform

The Beginning


Can you recall an experience that, perhaps inconsequential at the time, with hindsight clearly led you to your current path?  For me it was family cross country camping trips as a little brat.  These trips opened my eyes to all the new things outside of my neighborhood and town.  My crush on traveling grew as I got older and I started focusing on new destinations.  My jaunts became more frequent, further away and for ever longer periods of time.  By the time I met Lianne, my fixation was firmly entrenched and I had to make sure she was on board with it.  Two years ago we had the opportunity to take 3 month leaves from our respective jobs.  I wanted to test Nug out on a longer term trip and see if she had what it takes.  I feel that you can find out the most about who someone really is when you are traveling with them.  We backpacked through Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  Her biggest test came in Lombak.  We had a $3 night room (pancake breakfast and coffee included!) which consisted of candles for light, no electricity, a yoga mat as a bed on a cement/dirt floor, a hole in the ground to deposit your “processed food”, and a bucket shower.  We stayed in this resort for a week and  I even left her alone  a few of the days to surf.  She was a an absolute champ and still had a great time.  One day as she was washing our laundry in a bucket in our bathroom a 6 inch scorpion started trying to box with her.  She was a picture of serenity as I karate kicked the arachnid into eternal rest.   As we left the island (which is absolutely amazing) to go back to Bali, I knew she was “The One”.  Fast forward 2 years and a few more quick trip strikes and we started to get the itch for a longer trip.  I have thrown around the idea of an Australia work visa for years and finally got Nug on board, but “only if we visit Greece and Italy on the way home.”  We were married October 1 and are booked to leave for our expedition on November 13.  As of now we will be in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) for a week, New Zealand for 2 weeks, and Australia for an undetermined amount of time.  We have booked a place in Rarotonga as that will be our honeymoon, but everything else is up in the air.  To quote Lao Tzu, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”