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I Scrapped My Job and Headed to Bali

May 7, 2014

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Shauna McKenzie, beachside in Bali. (Courtesy: Shauna McKenzie)

Who: Shauna McKenzie, 40. After 10 years in retail management in Minneapolis, I switched jobs and moved to Portland. In between, I had some time to travel.  

Where: I took a solo trip in Singapore and Bali. I pulled the 12-day trip together with just three weeks’ notice.

Why: The universe presented me with an opportunity to change the course of my career direction—and to explore and travel. About six months ago, my partner Denise saved an episode of a show called “Super Soul Sunday,” where Maya Angelou said: “In everything, in every experience, say ‘Thank You.'” In Maya Angelou’s message, I deciphered that I needed to take time for myself by planning a last-minute trip to Asia. 

The Cost: $3,038, for hotels in Singapore and Bali, plus economy airfare on United, All Nippon Airways, and Singapore Airlines (I paid a little extra for a seat with extra legroom).

What I Loved: Singapore was clean and safe, and everyone was warm and patient. I also loved the street food scene at the hawker centers. Bali was magical—full of grace, humility, and respect. I saw the most stunning sunset on the beach at Seminyak. It was easy to eat clean in Bali: there were organic restaurants with fresh juice everywhere.

Sunset at Seminyak Beach. (Courtesy: Thinkstock)

What Did You Learn? Travel is not about money—it’s about courage. I am so proud of myself for finally speaking up about where I wanted to go. I now know that I can have it all, I just have to ask for it.

Travel Inspiration: "I’m so in love with people I’ve never met in places I’ve never been.” This is an unknown quote that has meaning for me. Many years ago, I created an organization called Food Chain Cincinnati, geared at making random connections at ethnic restaurants. I am a believer in the power of random human encounters—especially on the other side of the planet.

Singapore Highlights

Where I Stayed: Hotel Re!, a funky little affordable find in Pearls Hill.

Most Memorable Meal: The infamous chili pepper crab at Jumbo Seafood, an al fresco spot near Clarke Quay.

Most Unusual Meal: Frog legs and black-egg porridge at Tiong Shian Porridge, in Chinatown.

Here I am, at the Ku De’ Ta bar atop Marina Bay Sands, with astounding rooftop views of Singapore. (Courtesy: Shauna McKenzie)

Top Shopping: Textile stores in Little India; Haji Lane, lined with hipster boutiques

Secret Address: Cocktails at the hidden bar, 28 Hong Kong Street.

Best Sites: A walking tour of Chinatown and a visit to its Sri Lankan mosque and Chinese Buddhist temple.

A must-do in Singapore is a visit to a hawker center, a great place to meet locals.

Bali Highlights

Where I Stayed: The Grand Sunti Ubud, where my room was just $55 a night and a 2.5-hour Balinese massage and facial was $47.

Most Memorable Meal: Dinner at Nomad in Ubud for chicken satay and raspberry mojitos.

Favorite Bar: The Delicious Onion, which also hosts Balinese performance art.

In Bali, I hired a taxi driver to drop me off in a rice field near Campuhan, so that I could hike. It costs about $50 to $60 a day for a personal driver.

Top Shopping: Tankulak, Chilok, and Maspilet, for hand-carved objects and silver jewelry.

Best Dollar I Spent: Tong Guan to see the amazing waterfall; admission: $1.

Quiet Afternoon: The beach in Seminyak is great for lounging—and temporary tattoos.