- On Le Wagon -

7th October '18

Bangkok

For about the last 24 hours before leaving my apartment, I felt incredibly emotional about everything I was doing.

I'm getting into my bed... for the last time. I'm using my shower... for the last time. I'm sitting on my sofa... for the last time.

In no place on earth that I'm not able to return to, have I spent more time than my Bangkok condo.

I really loved that place. It was my home for more than three years. My safe place. My comfort. And I really struggled when it came to walking out for the very last time.

I'm going to walk outside, I'm going to close the door, and then this condo, this 30m² expanse where only I have ever lived; a space that defines me, and really is me. When I close that door, never again will I return here. Never again will I even be allowed through that door again.

I mean, that was hard. I struggled with it. But it's like I said in the last blog. These are the decisions I've made. Now I've got to live with the consequences of them.

Even though I'd already seen my ex-girlfriend for the last time, we were still chatting a lot, and that was equally hard.

You care deeply for someone, but you don't know when, or even if you're ever going to see them again, but from here you're just going to get further and further apart.

It was tough, I'll be honest. Tough emotionally, leaving Bangkok. Harder than any other time that I've left somewhere.

I was having to deal with the consequences in Bangkok, of the decisions that I'd made in London. Decisions that, given how hard they were to enact upon, I probably wouldn't have made had I been in Bangkok.

That doesn't mean that they were the wrong decisions, just that I needed to get away from the things I was emotionally attached to in order to see clearly enough to make them.

And when I was packing, by my standards I didn't pack lightly.

There were several things I put into my suitcase that I thought 'I'm probably not going to need that.'

Yet when I got to the airport, how much did my suitcase weigh?

14.1kg.

My life in Bangkok, reduced to 14.1kg.

Fuck I hope I don't live to regret that.

Bali

As the plane was coming in to land, an announcement came over the speaker system:

"Drug trafficking is not permitted in Indonesia and is punishable by the death penalty."

Alright. I'm not even off the plane yet and you're already threatening to kill me.

And one of the first things I noticed was... do you remember how I went into the store of my wifi/phone provider in Bangkok, about four weeks before I left, and the girl behind the desk who was supposed to be enabling international roaming on my SIM card clearly had no idea what she was doing?

Well guess what?

I'm abroad and my SIM card isn't working, so thanks for that. Luckily I hadn't been relying on their competence, so hadn't left very much money in my Thai bank account, because now I have no way to access it.

As I'd find-out a couple of days later, they'd also failed to disconnect my wifi as they'd promised they'd do, which my landlord is now taking care of, but seems to be encountering equal incompetence.

I mean seriously, how hard can that job really be?

Once through immigration, whilst I was waiting for my bag I instead connected to the airport wifi. And do you remember how when I moved back to Bangkok, with ominous timing I landed almost at the exact moment of the Bangkok bombing?

Well I did it again.

One difference that I've come to learn over the years, is you can tell how developed a place is, by how you're greeted by local taxi drivers as you walk out of an airport or bus station.

Some places it's completely civilised and comfortable, and others you're greeted by a rabble shouting at you and converging on you with zombie-like aggression, and unfortunately Indonesia ranks among the latter.

I honestly don't know why authorities, who rely on tourism dollars, don't implement something a little less overbearing, because it's not a very welcome experience for anyone, and first impressions count.

I had actually made a mistake, in that I was planning on buying a SIM card at the airport, as advised by my school, and was expecting there to be a physical shop, or at least a stall to do so.

So when I walked past some people with a little sign above their heads saying 'SIM cards', I assumed I'd find something a little more reputable further on.

Nope, that was all there was, and they were in a part of the airport that you couldn't return to once you'd gone past so... well I guess I'm not getting a SIM card at the airport then.

I was trying to wander around and get my bearings, but was being harassed by this taxi driver who, no matter how many times I told him to go away, wouldn't leave me alone.

I tried walking into a shop. He waited outside. I told him to leave me alone. He just kept on following.

Just... fuck off, you shit. It was making me both uncomfortable and angry.

Having just got off the plane and now taking my first steps in this new country, I was completely disoriented and wanted a moment to get my bearings, but instead was having to worry about this guy.

Until eventually, going against my better judgement, I wilted to his persistence.

Alright fuck-head, this is where I'm going, and this is the price I'm paying.

I offered him 200,000 rupiah (£10), which prior research had told me was the going rate for where I needed to go.

He tried to negotiate up.

'250,000 he said.'

No. You're following me. If you want me to take your fucking taxi, I'll pay you 200,000.

'Ok, ok, 225,000' he begged.

Fuck you.

I was just trying to get rid of this guy, and for each offer, I just walked away hoping he'd leave me alone. But he eventually conceded to my price and... fuck, I didn't actually want a taxi from this guy, but now he's agreed.

I hadn't realised quite how far I was travelling, and it turned-out I had to sit in a car next to this guy that I really didn't like, for about an hour until we arrived in Canggu, the part of Bali I'm staying in.

Enough time for the sun to set, and eventually arrive to where I was staying in the pitch black.

Thank God I'd had the common sense to download an offline copy of Bali on Google Maps.

I still don't understand how, but even with no working SIM card, Google Maps can track your exact location, and that helped me locate my guesthouse, roughly a minute's walk from my school, but down a very dark, stoney driveway that I'd have been apprehensive about walking down otherwise.

This picture that I took the next morning actually looks kind of pleasant, but imagine it in the dark of night.

I couldn't really see where I was walking, and I was having to carry my suitcase such was the terrain beneath me not allowing me to use its wheels. And after the drive I'd just had, I wasn't really taking to Bali by this point.

From that moment on though, everything kind of brightened up.

It looked like I was wandering down to a dead-end of nothing but derelict buildings on this unlit, uneven pathway, but luckily some little dogs resided there, who made enough noise to save me having to go looking for someone. And a woman came out.

"Jethro?" she said inquisitively.

In this light at least, it was almost bizarre how this quaint little three-room guesthouse could be at the end of what felt like a walk to your doom, but this place was nice.

Simple? Sure.

Just a bed, a small oak-type desk and a bathroom, with a short but deep swimming pool outside.

But it was nice enough, and I'm a simple guy.

I'd barely eaten since leaving my apartment 30 hours earlier, so along with getting a SIM, that was my next mission.

So I left the room of my guesthouse and was just exiting the property grounds, when coming the other way in search of me was the owner and her husband.

When she'd shown me the room a few minutes earlier, I'd asked her where I could buy a SIM card at this time.

She didn't really know, but now said 'my husband will take you to a shop to buy a SIM on his motorbike.'

I, uh... actually, fuck it. I'd appreciate the help.

I don't usually like to be a burden on people, and tend to like to figure things out on my own. On this occasion though, I really do need to get connected. Let's go.

On the drive from the airport, I'd been thinking about how dangerous the roads looked, even compared to Thailand, and no fucking way am I getting on a scooter here.

Fifteen minutes later I was on the back of a motorbike, not even wearing a helmet.

The shop was only two or three minutes away, and as we pulled-up, 'it's closed.'

'Never mind,' I said. 'I can buy one tomorrow instead.'

'Wait here,' he said to me, and he just burst through a gate and around the back of the shop.

Thirty seconds later, on comes the light in the shop, and someone comes in and opens the front door for me.

I believe that these were some people in his family.

I'm not sure of that; I don't think that he just went and woke up some random people to let me into their shop to buy a SIM card but... well, they luckily had the one SIM that I already knew that I wanted to buy, because by this point I kind of felt compelled to buy something.

And... I'm connected to the world again. Cool.

He drove me back, and the desire of the owners of my guesthouse accommodate me was nice.

They were genuinely making an effort to help me, so I was feeling a little more upbeat than after the unwelcoming welcome that I'd got at the airport.

The other thing on my list was food, and this was a big moment for me.

There was a vegan restaurant within easy walk of both my school and my guesthouse, so whether or not this place was any good or not, would likely determine how easy I'd find it to get food for the next two months. Otherwise there might be a lot of scavenging around for the solitary options available on the menus of other restaurants (or so I thought at the time, anyway) and... ah, this place is awesome.

It wasn't what you'd call 'healthy' vegan food.

It had only been open for a couple of weeks by this point, and it was basically an American-style fast food diner, with a menu of entirely vegan equivalents.

Burgers, tacos, hot dogs, sausage and egg muffins, milkshakes etc.

But it was so good. And it was so nice to know that I had vegan food, available from the early morning until late at night, right around the corner.

It might make me fat, but if there was one thing that I longed for in Bangkok, it was nearby restaurants that I actually wanted to go to.

All of my regular places there were train rides away, hence why I felt continually obligated to cook.

I lack the kitchen to do that here, but instead have food that I actually want to eat, right on my doorstep, so I was a happy man.

After a shaky start, Bali was quickly growing on me.

I would come to find on this night, that Reddit is banned in Indonesia, which was a revelation that I greeted with dismay because... well I don't really use social media. I don't care for it.

Reddit is my closest equivalent. That's how I get my news, that's how I keep up with the world, and that's what can draw my attention to my cell phone for way too many hours everyday. And for it to be banned here.

The fuck?

Luckily, thanks to living in China, I have lots of experience circumnavigating government bans, so it was really easy to bypass. But still.

What the Hell, Indonesia?

I slept well, and the next morning, I finally got to see Bali in the light.

I always find it a little uncomfortable when I go to a place that, from the taxi window the night before, even though most of the journey was after dark, my first impression of Indonesia was that it was kind of a dump.

But then we got to Canggu, and suddenly locals became outnumbered by (mostly white) foreigners, and it became really, really nice.

And having all the foreigners staying in the nice parts, and the locals living in the shitty parts, never sits quite right with me. But I guess that the only reason that it has the means to develop is the tourist money, so I suppose if you want it to become a nice place, then you've got to accept the tourism.

On this morning, I just wanted to wander around and get a feel for the place. And the first thing I noticed, was that once I got away from the immediate vicinity of the beach and all the guesthouses, not one other person was walking. Everyone was on a motorcycle.

I was still reluctant to get one for safety reasons, and thought that a bicycle might be a nice middle-ground between mobility and survival.

Walking everywhere just isn't especially viable unless I don't want to venture out of the cluster of guesthouses, shops and restaurants that I'm staying around.

As I said already, this vegan restaurant that I'd had dinner at the night before, only opened very recently. And I know that, because when I checked this area for vegetarian restaurants when deciding on where to do this bootcamp, it didn't exist. No vegan places did.

Another place had opened up in September too.

When, in one of the Le Wagon Bali Instagram posts I posted a couple of blogs ago, the caption ready "Canggu has been referred to as 'The Brooklyn of Bali' for its proliferation of eco, vego and organic food, drinks and bars popping up along the coast, fuelled by the countless ex-pats who seem to be moving there in droves', they really weren't kidding.

Six weeks ago when when I'd booked this bootcamp, there were no vegan restaurants within walking distance of the school. Now there were two, and it was overall about as vegan-friendly a place as I've ever been.

Almost every restaurant advertises vegan options, and highlights them on the menu.

Yeah, I'm really not going to have a hard time eating here. This is great.

I made my way down to the beach, and watching the hordes of surfers and thinking about how fun it looked, it felt almost a shame that I was here to do a bootcamp, because it'll probably preclude me from having the time to learn.

So no motorcycle and no surfing, it made me wonder how much I'd actually fit into the lifestyle here. Although one thing I'd kind of decided by this point, was that I'm ending my streak of sobriety.

That doesn't mean that I'm going to start going on raging nights-out again, blacking-out and waking-up in alleyways.

It was more just... if people are going out for a beer, having one or two isn't going to kill me.

Everyone from my school was 'meeting for beers' this afternoon, and I'd walked past the place where we were meeting, which was locked at that time of morning, but advertised craft beers and...

I'm an awkward enough person as it is.

I only eat vegan food, I don't drink alcohol, I don't drink coffee, and even though I've relaxed it now, I was previously fasting for sixteen hours per day.

'So... I'm available for vegan food between the hours of 11am and 7pm everyday.'

I mean, that's not the most welcoming way to be with people, and if I could relax it a bit to at least say hey, bars are ok to go to, then it might make getting to know people a little easier.

To be honest, I still don't get why food or drink always needs to be involved.

"Hey, let's get a coffee. Hey, let's go for a drink. Why don't we go for dinner? Shall we meet for lunch?"

I don't get why you can't just meet people.

"Hey, let's sit around an empty table and talk for an hour." That's my ideal way to get to know someone, but it doesn't really seem an accepted way of doing things.

So my hope was that this place we were all meeting at in the afternoon at least had something vegan on the menu, but if it didn't, then fuck it, I'll drink a beer, and I'll be happy about it.

I wandered back up from the beach and got the sausage and egg muffin from the vegan diner I'd had dinner at the night before, and was visualising a bout of obesity in my future were I to keep this up.

I went from there to the hotel that my school's located in, just to check it out.

I wasn't sure that they'd let me just wander into this hotel and go prancing around at will, so I just walked around like I owned the place until I found the school.

Locked, buy very recognisable through the windows from the photos I'd seen on Instagram.

So... this is it. This is my room of pain and suffering for the next two months.

I then went back to my room to relax for a bit and did thirty minutes of meditation. Then after a bit more procrastinating, it was time to head to this bar to meet my classmates.

And I was fully prepared to end my sobriety streak but... oh, everyone's drinking iced tea.

I was ten minutes early, and there were five or six people there before me; all staff of the school. And they were just sitting around non-alcoholically.

Well... I guess I'll just have an iced tea then.

Other students followed shortly after me, until I believe, every person taking this course now occupied the bar.

Some were drinking, some were not, but I certainly didn't feel any pressure to. So my streak lived on.

They were completely lying when they said 'meet for beers' then.

But everyone seemed nice. Most seemed motivated, and everyone had similar stories as to why they were here.

All of the students this term are male which... well it's probably a good thing. It removes ego from a room full of guys if there are no girls to show off for, although a couple of the teachers are female.

There's also a mix of nationalities, from Jordanian, to South African, to French, and even one other British guy.

Well, Welsh if that counts.

Most were of an age similar to mine, or a bit younger.

This meeting somewhat appeased my fear of having demotivated peers, although I was yet to see if it translated to the classroom.

The manager of the school was very open in saying that there are always one or two students who spend the entire course hungover and drop behind, so I was trying to spot who that would be.

All in all though, it was a nice introduction. Good to meet people.

I also learnt that all of the teachers are former students.

That seems to be a very viable way to make a living and improve your skills once the course finishes.

As I found out, the first ever Le Wagon students were being taught by industry professionals with fifteen years of experience, and it was just very hard for them to learn because they didn't really understand what the students were going through, and it was like they were speaking a different language.

Then they started hiring former students to teach, and it seemed to be much more effective, having just gone through the course themselves.

It was a similar thing when I was in the London branch. Most of the teachers were students of a term or two earlier. And of course having to teach something, is a way to refine your own skills.

It seems to be you're a student, then you maybe work as a teaching assistant for a term, and then teach from the term after that.

In places like London, with many former students hanging-around, you'd maybe only teach ten days per two month course, so it's not a living. You'd have to do some freelance work on the side, which seems to be a very common path to take.

I've been aiming for employment this entire time, but apparently once you've found your feet, freelancing can be more lucrative.

But for somewhere like Bali, they can't entice people to come here and only give them ten days of work per course, so the teachers here work enough to make a living and... well wouldn't that be a nice option?

No one was really in this bar getting hammered, and by 8pm numbers were dwindling, so I too made my exit, going back to my vegan diner for dinner.

I'd certainly figured-out how I could eat in Bali.

With a couple of nearby vegan restaurants, and vegan options at almost every restaurant, that wasn't going to be an issue.

There was a distinctive lack of fruit compared to Bangkok, where fruit vendors lurk everywhere. Here I was yet to even find a restaurant offering a fruit salad. In fact I was yet to find anywhere to simply buy some fresh fruit. So for someone like me, who's started their day with a fruit smoothie everyday for years, it was a bit of a change to find fruit so hard to come by.

But it was still going to be easy to eat healthily, were I to opt to.

What I was yet to figure-out, was how to eat cheaply.

I was yet to find a market or a supermarket within walking distance. All the convenience stores just sell junk food. And each restaurant meal was ranging from about £4-7, which isn't too expensive, although I don't want to be spending £10-15 on food everyday for the next two months if I can help it.

Day 1

The next day was the start of the bootcamp, and despite being awoken early by a nearby rooster, I made the very conscious decision not to have any breakfast before the bootcamp.

As I've talked about in previous blogs ad nauseam, I'm a creature of habit, and at this stage I was busy setting the precedents for how the rest of these two months would be.

How I eat and live now, is likely going to be very similar to how I'll be eating and living in two months.

I know from my fasting experiments that I can go twenty four hours or longer without food and still be productive and feel normal. So why set the precedent of having breakfast, hence my body expecting breakfast everyday, when only eating in restaurants, it would mean an hour or so less in bed each morning, and the cost of buying another meal each day?

So instead, I got up and went straight to the bootcamp, saving on unnecessary calories and costs from what was clearly not going to be an especially healthy, active, or cheap couple of months.

I arrived to the bootcamp a little early, and took one of the tables close to the front. And... I had mixed feelings about this day.

Before lunch it was all about setting up your laptop with the stuff you'd need for the course.

That took a couple of hours, and was each person just following a list of instructions to get things configured correctly.

It went well for everyone, except the one guy with a Windows laptop, who I later found-out had to go and buy a MacBook an hour drive away, at a cost of about $1,500, and stay at the school until 12:30am the next morning getting it set-up, because they were unable to get his Windows laptop to work properly.

Then there was lunch, before returning for the first 'lecture' of the course, although it was something that, had you completed the pre-course work, was rather easy.

Then we were split into pairs to work through some challenges, to make sure that everything had been understood. And there's an online Le Wagon application, that includes loads of things such as the challenges themselves, lecture slides, student profiles, and also a section that (supposedly) randomly selects you a partner each day. And on this first day, I was with a perfectly nice guy. And having been a teacher for the last six years, I'm fairly sympathetic to the types of students that you'll get in a class.

And one type of student that you'll have in almost every class that you teach, is the one who doesn't get that it's not a race.

If you're studying English, the goal is not to complete the activities as quickly as possible. The goal is to learn as much English as possible, the activities are there as merely a way to help you do that. But working in pairs, finishing first just means that you had the shortest conversations which, when learning English, is a bad thing.

The guy I was working with today was very similar. Determined to race through the activities as quickly as possible, not really stopping to think that hey... if I slow down a bit and go over things a bit more concisely, I might benefit a bit more.

In his defence, these first day challenges weren't very challenging. And they seemed to have allotted two or three hours for something that took about twenty minutes. So spending the remaining time just kind of... staying busy, but not really doing anything productive, did make it feel like a bit of a waste of time.

We had dinner as a whole group at the school (which is in a hotel) afterwards, and one of the teachers brought up the idea of going to another part of Bali on the coming Saturday; just one of three Saturdays that we'll have off over the next eight weeks. So that was a nice way to finish the day.

So I left this day feeling... mostly positive.

I didn't feel like this day had been especially beneficial, but I felt like the entire course would be.

Most people seemed pretty dedicated, and seeing as the majority of each day is working with a partner, that's important.

There were a couple of exceptions but... well as I kept telling myself as I was sat there frustrated by how little I was doing through the afternoon, you've just got to approach this in the way that you'll benefit the most.

If I'm working with someone of a lesser ability than myself, then teaching something is the best way to ensure that you fully understand it. If I'm working with someone more advanced than myself, then use the opportunity to learn from them.

And if I'm working with one of the minority yet to show and real motivation then... fuck it, just take from it what you can.

For lunch I'd been to this vegan fast food diner for the fourth time since arriving in Bali less than 48 course earlier.

For dinner I went to a different vegetarian restaurant and got a sweet potato burger and...

Even only being here for two days, I was already feeling less healthy than when I arrived.

Although I was eating mostly whole foods still, I definitely felt like my diet had taken a nose-dive compared to Bangkok, where I'd start each day with a fresh fruit smoothie. But I was lacking the kitchen to really do anything different here to what I had been already, so I was starting to become resigned to my fate of eating in nice restaurants 2-3 times per day for these entire two months. Fuck's sake.

That was the first day of this course. And I had at one moment, just stopped and thought to myself... fuck me, I'm really here.

It almost felt like a place of fantasy, having dominated my time and my mind for so long, like a movie you've seen over and over again. I'd just got used to this school not actually existing in real life. Then I was all... oh fuck, I'm here.

Day 2

The next day was the first 'proper' day of the bootcamp, and despite being up by rooster fairly early, I again resisted the urge to have any breakfast.

And on this day, we started at 9am sharp with a lecture for a couple of hours.

Then, just as the day before, we split into pairs to work for the bulk of the day. And on this day, I gelled a little better with my partner.

Apart from after taking a break for lunch, I asked him if he wanted to sit in the same place as before, which was outside on the balcony, working on some bean bags and looking out to the beach (although in fairness, rarely looking up from our screens, the view was perhaps wasted).

He replied yes, so I sat down in the same place, only for him to come out a couple of minutes later and decide that he wanted to work at a table.

Now unable to see each other's screens, and with him resting his feet on a lower table way, way too close to my face for comfort, then commenting about a foot injury that he has and hoping that it doesn't get infected, it didn't prove conducive for a productive working environment.

But... we got through it, and ultimately got through all of the challenges that we had for the day.

Most of the groups did in fact, which I think surprised the teachers, because they were somewhat challenging.

And I was enjoying it.

I didn't feel lost or out of my depth. I felt like I was learning and was enjoying the challenge of figuring-out how to code. It was good.

This day and each day since has finished with a 'live code', which is when you get put into groups of around four, and working on just one computer, you have to solve a problem that you're set.

And after a shaky start, where all four people in my group had different ideas about how to complete it, my group was the one group to fully complete this challenge as well. So it was a successful day. I enjoyed it, although was cognisant to how fried my brain was feeling after a whole day of coding, but was thinking to myself... well it's going to be like this for almost six days a week for the next eight weeks so... get used to it.

We even finished the day in time that a few of us went to the beach for what remained of the sunset, and threw around a frisbee for a bit before getting dinner together.

It was nice. There was a good atmosphere and a good rapport building between most of the people.

One thing that I hadn't considered when coming here, was that were I to study in London say, many of the students would be from London, and already know the city and have their own friends to hang-out with.

Probably the same in many of the other branches around the world.

In Bali though, no one taking the course is Indonesian. Every single person has come from somewhere else in the world, most people alone. Which means that the other people on the course are the only friends that we've got. So it's a very social atmosphere.

Too much so for me if I'm honest, as someone who craves their independence. But better too much than too little.

As I said before, Canggu is a very strange place, in that even though it's in Indonesia, foreigners, mostly white, vastly outnumber locals.

It's not a reflection of Indonesian culture in the slightest. So there's one part of me that wrestles with how fake it is. Almost an ideological town built by dreamers, with vegan food, organic cafes and smoothie bowls.

Kind of like if a bunch of hippies built a town, but the people in it actually showered.

So on the one hand, it doesn't feel like a real place. But on the other... I mean, it's paradise.

Amazing weather, a beautiful beach a five-minute walk away, many restaurants are health-focussed, with most notifying vegan and gluten-free options.

And the local people that are here, are just constantly happy. Everyone says 'hello' to you and is always smiling.

At first I thought it was faked, with the foreign owners of many of the businesses here, telling the staff to smile all the time and talk to people.

But I've started noticing it from people who're under no obligation to.

Just random people, sitting outside convenience stores for example, say hello to you. It's bizarre how happy everyone is, all the time.

But at the same time, life is so good here, I guess that it's not a surprise.

Clean air, clean food, good weather. Why wouldn't everyone be happy?

So I am a little conflicted with my feelings.

Should I really be enjoying a place, essentially built on the dreams of people who aren't from here, for people who aren't from here to enjoy?

I guess that the simple answer, is yes.

I've really taken to Canggu to be honest.

For lunch on this day, I got a smoothie bowl from a dedicated smoothie bowl shack. For dinner, those of use who went out, went to this amazing little vegetarian restaurant.

Skipping breakfast everyday, not including accommodation I'm typically only spending about £10.

That's £10 for two healthy, delicious, sit-down meals in nice restaurants.

And they are really my only expenses.

I'm hand-washing my clothes at the end of each day, and a week's detergent cost me the equivalent of 10p.

My guesthouse has free drinking water, so I don't even pay for that. And to this point still resisting getting a bicycle or motorbike, I really don't have anything to buy other than food. And in that sense, this place is almost too good to be true.

My accommodation is about £15 per day, so £25 per day? For this life?

That just doesn't seem fair.

Day 3

I had been feeling that if I'm going to be up by rooster every morning (and he seems to wake-up between 6:00 and 6:30am) then not only should I start getting to bed earlier, but I should also start making use of this extra time in the morning.

I'd set my alarm to either 7:45 of 8:00am each day depending on if I needed a shave, because without breakfast, it was just get up, have a shower and brush my teeth, and walk one minute to the school.

However in not sleeping even close to when my alarm would go off (thanks rooster), why not get up and... I don't know, got for a run on the beach? Go for a swim in the sea? Even just splash around in my guesthouse pool to get my body moving.

Yet instead on this day, as I'd done on each day prior, I just lay in bed on my phone.

Ok... tomorrow then.

And this was the first day of the bootcamp that everyone started to look and feel weary.

By the end of the day, I'd lost count of how many people I'd heard say 'my brain is completely fried.' And I was among them.

Like the days prior, I had a different partner.

We got along pretty well, although at times when I was faster than him, he was determined to complete the challenges on his own.

There's nothing wrong with that, except it did mean that I had a bit of sitting around and waiting for him, but that probably wasn't a bad thing.

Like I said, this day really pushed you, mentally.

Just thinking about code endlessly, your brain became... fried.

I did start to wonder how people would be after eight more weeks of this, six days per week most weeks.

But... well that's what we signed-up for. It's called a bootcamp for a reason.

By this point I'd reluctantly settled into my routine of getting all of my meals for the next two months in nice restaurants. And I got a black bean burger and fries with a fake milkshake for lunch. I got a pizza with vegan mozzarella in a nice restaurant for dinner.

And then I did exactly what it's recommended that we don't do, and spent the rest of my evening sat in front of my laptop coding.

I just had some things I wanted to go over so... I get why they recommend that we don't do this. Because this course is mentally taxing enough already, so you need to give your brain a break.

But at the same time... fuck it.

I also extended my stay in my guesthouse for an extra month through Airbnb.

For some reason, they limited the booking to a month, so my final couple of weeks in Bali are still unaccounted for. To be honest though, I've been very happy staying here so far, so I don't see why I'd want to move.

The owners are friendly, and it's comfortable, cheap, and near to the school.

The only drawback being that it's not especially soundproof. And when almost everyone else in Bali is here on vacation, it can be a bit frustrating to have people in the two other rooms drinking beer until the early hours.

It's only been an issue on one night so far though.

Day 4

Despite my best intentions, this day started off like all the rest.

I was awoken even before rooster o'clock, by an almighty bang that sounded just like when lightning would strike right outside my apartment building during the Bangkok rainy season. But when I looked outside there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

To this point, I still have no idea what it was, but it was early enough in the morning that I thought I'd be able to get back to sleep.

Unfortunately the rooster had other ideas, as he woke-up about twenty minutes later. But I was still determined to try and sleep some more. Except by the time I realised that wasn't going to happen, it was too late to really do anything productive.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

And this was the first day that a yoga class was included as part of the day's activities at the school.

Myself, along with about half of the other participants of the bootcamp took part. And it was so nice to get this therapeutic break from an otherwise taxing day.

How hard on the brain this bootcamp was proving to be, wasn't anything unexpected. But knowing about it, and living through it are two very different things, and thinking about code for ten hours per day at the bootcamp, then coming home and thinking about it some more...

They say that we shouldn't code once we leave for the day; that we need a break. But then they give us a deck of flash cards to work through each night anyway.

Depending on how easy you find them, these can take upwards of an hour.

But this was the first day where I felt there were some things that I really struggled to understand.

It had been stressed many times to us that this bootcamp isn't a competition. We shouldn't be comparing ourselves to one another, and the only thing that matters is how much knowledge you're able to gain, so I'm taking that on board.

But at this stage, if I were to rank myself, I'd probably be somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of understanding and ability.

Some people have come here having worked with computers for years, coding in other languages. And I'm way behind those people. But then others have come here with no experience at all, and my self-teaching of Swift gives me a head-start on them.

But this was just a hard, all around day, broken-up for an hour by a yoga session.

And as my routine has become, I finished the bootcamp for the day, then went and got dinner, then went back to my room and hand-washed my clothes from the day, and then sat down to do my flash cards. On this day though... man, I just couldn't even think.

I'd become brain-dead, and I certainly wasn't alone.

Coding is a very enjoyable thing to do, but it's constant thinking. Holding thoughts, connecting them to other thoughts, holding this map of code in your mind as you figure-out how to type it all out. And that requirement of continual focus is hard.

Enjoyable, but it was definitely taking its toll on me and everybody else.

Although luckily, this was one of the weeks where we had a two-day weekend, so there was just one more day to go before a well-earned break.

Day 5

This was the first day when I actually had plans for my previously unproductive mornings.

Not only did I want to finish the flash cards that were too much for my brain to handle the night prior, but yet to do any meditation since starting the bootcamp, mainly because it's always been a more middle-of-the-day activity for me; something that was now impossible, I decided that I wanted to get into a routine of morning meditation instead.

So with this to do, it would typically be the one day that I managed to sleep right through the rooster. And to consequently rush through my flash cards and a short meditation before having to go to the school, probably caused me more stress than it relieved. Something that would be telling for how the rest of this morning would progress.

It was Friday; the final day of the bootcamp for the week, and mental fatigue was showing on a lot of people.

I certainly wasn't exempt, and this morning my brain just wouldn't function.

Coding, as I'm finding, is the most mentally challenging thing I've ever done.

It's not like teaching, for example, where you might have to think for a bit each day, but most of the time, you're not really being too challenged.

This is being mentally challenged constantly, and it takes its toll.

As we've been told many times, over the first three weeks we're learning what a computer science student learns in their entire first year.

I don't know the accuracy of that, but regardless... it's hard. And this morning was the low of the entire week for me.

The value of just stepping away from your computer can't be overstated, and when me and my buddy for the day opted to take our lunch break, I was just gone, mentally. I wasn't really functioning.

Like I said, this wasn't only me. I've never heard the sentence 'my brain is fried' used so much in my life. But still, I just wanted a quick lunch to get back and make amends for the unproductive morning.

And seeing as this is a town existing basically for tourists, being someone here studying like this, puts the pace of my day wholly at odds with most other people in the town.

I went to the vegan fast food joint that I'd been to so many times already, only to be at the back of a queue of four other people, who insisted on ordering individually despite being there together, before I could even place my order at the solitary till.

That alone took 5-10 minutes, but when I went upstairs to take a seat, it was with dismay that I realised that they were just part of a group of twelve to fifteen people, and my order was behind all of them.

Already stressed-out and frustrated, my anger grew with every second above the ten minutes that I'd usually have to wait to get my food.

My blood pressure must have been at dangerous levels when it finally arrived after about thirty minutes.

And this exact moment, right here, just before the food arrived, was my absolute low moment of this first week.

I'd struggled all morning. I was sat there, frustrated and angry. So much that even food couldn't console me. For some reason though, as I rushed back from lunch after inhaling my tardy meal, things just started to click.

It's why I say I cannot overstate the importance of getting away from your computer sometimes. Sometimes your brain just needs some space to make sense of things and to relax. And from there, everything got better.

One of the good things about the buddy system, is that if you fail, at least you fail together. And my partner had been struggling as much as me on this morning. In fact, as much as many people.

Not that I expected it to be, but this bootcamp really wasn't proving to be easy.

But after lunch, having feared that I just wasn't learning enough, on being able to complete this challenge that some people were unable to get for the entire day, I realised that actually... the knowledge is in there.

We were later given a pen and paper test to just see how everyone was progressing. And being able to answer all but one of these questions (and everyone got the final question wrong), it built my confidence up even more. And what had threatened to be an absolutely disastrous day, actually finished on a high.

Most people had a beer at the school to celebrate the end of the first week, although I continued to abstain. And then we all went to a bar/club/restaurant down on the beach, but again, I didn't want to drink, so just stayed for an hour or two before making my exit.

My logic was that my brain was completely broken at this point, and needed to recover and rebuild. And neither alcohol nor shortness of sleep would help with that, so I was more interested in getting an early night.

The Weekend

That took us to this weekend, and yesterday most of us piled-into a minibus and went on a school-organised trip to Uluwatu (another part of Bali), to firstly spend the afternoon on a beach, and then go to a bar/restaurant for an unhindered view of the sunset.

I'd been excited about this trip when it was announced at the beginning of the week, but come the end of the day, I regretted going.

You don't think of Bali as a place that would have bad traffic, but it really does if you want to travel any real distance. So just getting to the beach took us an hour and a half.

And the thing I always find with beaches, is they're fun for about an hour.

I swam for a bit, then played frisbee for a bit. But then I was kind of done.

The sun was getting to me, but being in a big group, I didn't really get much say in when we'd leave, so had to spend about three more hours there, just kind of wanting to go.

Then it was another thirty minutes in the van to get to this bar called Single Fin Beach Club, which was nice for the sunset. But by the time this hive-mind of people got around to leaving, I think everyone was kind of spent.

It had been a hard week, and the amount of sun we'd all got on this day really took its toll as well. So by the time that we did actually leave, I was endlessly frustrated that I'd spent the vast majority of my day-off doing things that I didn't really want to do.

And it got worse as traffic dictated that the ride home again took about two and a half hours.

I hadn't really enjoyed the day at all.

And if you know me, I'm always trying to figure-out how my brain works.

That's one of the great questions of life in my opinion. Is my brain smart enough to understand itself.

By the time we got back, I was just really frustrated. Trapped in a minibus with people who were annoying me.

But I was so dehydrated by this point in the day, I wondered how much that played a role.

I'm a very independent person. Always have been.

It's not that I don't like socialising ever, but I do need my space. I can get very frustrated spending too long around the same people, and I'll reach that point of frustration faster than most other people will.

It's why this attitude of nineteen people coming to Bali, mostly alone and not knowing anyone so forced to exist socially together, is kind of nice.

By this point though, I was just... I need some space from these people. I just want to get away from everyone, but instead we're all trapped in this stationary minibus.

That was yesterday. And so today, despite people meeting to watch the Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov fight, I opted to watch it alone on my laptop. To just do something by myself, for myself.

And compared to yesterday, I'm feeling so much more relaxed.

I don't know if I can quite say that I'm ready to start the next week. But I'm definitely feeling better now than I was yesterday.

So... that's it. That's the first week of Le Wagon.

When I really stop and think about it, my lifestyle perhaps hasn't quite changed as much as I anticipated.

Everyday since I got here, I've successfully closed all three of my Apple Watch rings, so even if that's just from dancing around my room at the end of the day, I'm keeping myself moderately active.

Not once since I got here has my night-time fast been less than the thirteen hours that I was doing in Bangkok. Not once have I drunk alcohol.

Sure, my life's got shaken-up pretty badly, of which if I ever wanted reinforcement that my time in Bangkok is over, I got it today when my former landlord messaged me to ask how the hood above the cooker worked, because the new tenant couldn't figure it out.

I mean... damn. I wasn't expecting my apartment to sit idle forever, but I only moved-out a week ago.

For all the stuff that I left behind, like my bedding, and my bread machine, and everything else, it's kind of disconcerting to think that someone else is already in there using it.

I guess it really isn't my apartment anymore.

So if I wanted any reminder that life has changed, that was it. But those lifestyle fundamentals that I had in Bangkok are still in place.

And if I am able to get into the habit of regular meditation in the mornings, then they will be even more.

And I think I feel positive about it all.

It's hard, this bootcamp, but I expected that. It's stressful, but I expected that. I am learning, and that's the most important thing.

Am I learning enough that I'll be able to make a living off programming afterwards? That's the million dollar question.

Or at least the thirty-thousand pound question anyway.

But I will say, don't expect another blog for a while. In fact I probably won't have the time to read-over and upload this blog until I have another day off next Sunday. So certainly don't expect me to find the time to write one anytime soon.

If I haven't had a mental breakdown by then, maybe I'll find the time again in a couple of weeks.

But that's a big 'if'.