Day 1: The first step – Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

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Michael asked a bemused shopkeeper for some cardboard so we could fashion a sign and thus a new routine we were to repeat on countless occasions was forged.

In order to form a successful partnership when two people travel together, I think they usually fall into their roles due to their natural abilities, their key skills, what they are good at.

Michael’s job, on account of his affable charisma, was to ask shopkeepers for cardboard whereas my job was to write out the sign because I could remember to put the marker pen back in my bag.

I scrawled “GILIMANUK”, a town on the west coast of Bali, about 130 km away, in big, thick, black letters.

I don’t know why, but as we approached the busy road with our sign, knowing for well that few of the locals would have seen anything like this before, I felt an unexpected prang of self-consciousness. Everything we´d read and researched about hitchhiking in Indonesia had suggested that it just didn’t happen here. This was it. We had meticulously planned this adventure for the last few months. We’d published our intentions to everyone we knew on Facebook; if we failed at the first hurdle, on the first day, we’d surely return home as the same losers as when we had left.

If Michael also felt a bit ill-at-ease, he certainly didn’t show it. He stood up on the elevated platform, between the petrol station and the road and, whereas I must have looked as assured as a librarian trying to earn a bit a cash on her first night dancing in a strip club, Michael held the sign high above his head with the brazen pride of a ring girl in between rounds at a boxing match.

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I took a step back from the platform in admiration and thanked my stars that he was with me.

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