I met Hans and Wolfgang when we first sat down to dinner aboard our ship bound for Halong Bay, Vietnam. Two middle-aged German men, each with a dry sense of humor and an air of familiarity that instantly made them feel like family.
Wolfgang had lived in Indonesia for over nine years in addition to living in parts of Malaysia and, of course, Germany. Hans, from what I understood, had lived in Germany, always. At breakfast on my last day on the boat, the topic of conversation turned to the next destinations on my travel itinerary. I explained that I would be flying directly from Hanoi that evening to Hong Kong, spend a few days in Hong Kong and fly from there to Australia then Indonesia, and would finish up in Singapore.
Wolfgang compared me to a Japanese tourist, “Europe, OK, I can see in 10 days” while he mimed taking pictures with an invisible camera. OK, I got the message, I was rushing it. So, I asked Wolfgang where he thought I should go instead. Without hesitation, he responded, “Bali.” Just Bali? I told him I’d think about it.
A few hours later, I brought a book with a map of Indonesia when I joined Hans and Wolfgang for a mid-morning coffee on the top of the boat. I opened the book and pointed to the map, “I’ll spend 3 days in Bali, maybe climb a volcano, visit a few other islands, perhaps go to Jakarta.”
Wolfgang grabbed my pen and book. He pointed to the map of Bali and said, “you spend 4 weeks in Ubud, 2 to 3 weeks in the east, and another 2 to 3 weeks in the south.” I laughed and responded, “but I only have 10 days left.”
He said, “OK, 10 days in Ubud.” So I agreed (at least to an extended stay in Bali). It was as simple as that, I had completely rerouted my trip.