One of my favourite stories begins in Bali. It's the story of how I met my wife back in 2005.
In the years following the dot.com bust, I had a dilemma. I had graduated with an electrical engineering & computer science degree from UC Berkeley but couldn't find a decent job. I quickly realized that living in the San Francisco Bay Area would be no cheaper than traveling, so I took my savings and hit the road.
My journey took me to South America for a year, SE Asia for six months, China for two months and I took three road trips criss crossing North America.
Traveling the world in my early twenties. Partying at Carnaval in Rio. Hanging out with monks in Thailand. Exploring the ruins of Borobudur in Java.
Hugging a tree sloth in the Amazon. Hanging out on Ipanema beach in Rio. At Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
Nearing the end of my budget, I found myself on the island of Bali. I had spent 10 days on the island, exploring temples, sampling local foods, and hanging out on nice beaches. With only a few hours before my flight back to San Francisco, I suddenly came to realize that I had not yet gotten any gifts or presents for friends/family back home. I took a detour from the airport and wandered around Jimbaran looking for a good gift shop. I stopped at this tidy gift shop catering to Japanese tourists and wandered inside to take a look.
Back in 2005, I met Wayana at her gift shop. This was right after the second Bali bombing. I guess I might have been one of the only customers that week, so I got extra special attention from my future wife.
This Balinese girl with big eyes and a bigger smile took me around the shop. She asked if I needed help finding anything. I took my time asking as many questions and in as much detail as I could. Her friends at the shop would giggle, pass by and announce that she was single and needed a boyfriend. I thought that'd be a good role for me and it got me sort of excited.
The timing couldn't have been worse since I was just about to leave. So after buying four wooden elephant heads made from the roots of a teak tree, I bid farewell to this lovely girl, scribbled down her email and promised to return soon. Like in a year or so.
Turns out that I ended up missing my flight. Got to the airport with less than 30 minutes before take off and the gate was closed. I tried to negotiate my way onto the flight but it was futile. I remember feeling kind of dejected and silly at that point. I would have to spend almost the last of my savings on another ticket back home to the US. I was stranded in Bali. All of a sudden, another thought came into focus.
"Being stranded in Bali is not such a bad thing... Having met a beautiful girl that I was instantly attracted to was not a bad thing either. Better see if she'll go out to dinner with me now that I'm here a bit longer."
So I got up off my back and took a taxi back to the gift shop and asked her out to dinner. I thought it might be nicer to buy dinner than a plane ticket back home anyway. Wayana got very surprised that I returned so quickly.
The first dinner I had with Wayana. I didn't know where to go, so I let her choose. She brought me to this seafood shack on the beach. We had lobster, shrimp and fish.
The dinner went well and I found a good reason to stay in Bali a bit longer. To date my new Balinese girlfriend. And the longer I stayed, the more I felt Bali was home. I quickly got used to waking up to the sunny balmy weather, having the beach nearby and having the general sense of well-being from living on a tropical island.
I found my first job in Bali near Wayana's gift shop. I worked out of an office in a two bedroom pool villa and took wealthy clients out to construction sites, had lunch with them and tried hard to sell them a holiday home in Bali.
Well a few more years later, and we ended up starting a family together. We built a business and I even got the chance to work at Airbnb as the market manager for Indonesia. We worked on some awesome projects to promote hospitality culture within the Bali host community and travelled a lot to Jakarta to get more Indonesians to travel using Airbnb. We started our company BukitVista in 2010 to rent villas to students on study-holidays and eventually grew into managing hotels, rental villas, and ocean side apartments.
New Year's Eve in 2015 celebrating in Seminyak. Wayana's birthday happens to be on Dec 31st, so the whole world celebrates her birthday. 10 years since we first met.
Attending a Hindu ceremony in East Bali at my wife's village. I'm hanging out with Wayana's brothers. And the little girl in the purple is my daughter, Eka.
Our team as of late 2016
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