Photo Credit: Courtesy of Taliya
The Black Expat: "I'm More Productive In Bali's Tropical Weather"
Taliya Maya is a 23-year-old world traveler from Chicago, IL. She owns the T World Tours group travel agency and also works as a producer and travel planner for Passport Heavy, one of the largest travel channels on YouTube.
She had a goal of visiting 23 countries by the time she reached 23 years of age, and she achieved that goal, having traveled to Cuba, Canada, Puerto Rico, Spain, France, Poland, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Denmark, the Netherlands, Morocco, Czech Republic, Portugal, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Indonesia, all over the U.S.
One of her favorite countries to visit has been Colombia.
“Colombia will always be one of my favorites,” Taliya told Travel Noire. “I was originally supposed to be staying for two weeks, but loved it so much I stayed for two months. It was surreal how different one city was from another. You can be in the hustle and bustle of busy Medellín, and after a one to two hour flight you can be in the middle of the jungle or on a white sand beach. The people and the nightlife there are like no other. It’s the perfect place for someone who wants a good balance of city life, water, and mountains.”
Indonesia is another favorite destination of Taliya’s, which is part of the reason she chose to move to the Southeast Asian country.
“Indonesia is amazing to me, from the culture and traditions to the overall beauty of the country.”
Another factor leading to her decision to ditch the United States for Bali was the climate.
“I moved with my Passport Heavy team, so we can stay focused on all of our personal and professional goals. We were shooting documentaries throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean over the fall, and found it so much easier to stay motivated. I’m ten times more productive in Bali’s tropical weather.”
Taliya and her team made the move in December, right before the start of 2021. She says that while the process wasn’t difficult, there were a lot of elements to it, including some surprises.
“First, we had to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before boarding our flight to Tokyo, as there are no direct flights to Jakarta. From Tokyo, we flew to Jakarta, where we were informed we had to quarantine for five days.”
“When we landed, we were directed to a bus that would take us to a quarantine hotel. They had just changed the rules the day before we arrived, and at the time there was no option to choose which hotel you would quarantine at.”
“We ended up at the Holiday Inn Express, which we had to pay for out of pocket. It was around $50 a night, which included three small meals. The morning after, we had to take a COVID test at the hotel, and another on the fourth day. Both tests were paid for out of pocket, as well.”
“Now, you are able to book your quarantine hotel stay in advance and choose where you wish to stay. It was definitely a process, but we appreciate what Indonesia is doing to keep the country safe.”
Taliya has spent the past several weeks getting acclimated to life in Bali. She says that so far, the experience has been amazing and that the locals have been extremely warm and welcoming.
“Living in Indonesia has been pretty mind-blowing. The locals are so sweet and greet you in the most positive way with the biggest smiles, versus in Chicago where everyone just minds their business and doesn’t make much eye contact.”
“There are some things I’m still getting used to. Instead of shaking hands when greeting someone, like we do in the West, in Indonesia, you close your palms and bow slightly. In addition, lots of businesses expect you to take your shoes off at the door. Driving on the left side of the road is still confusing for me sometimes, as well.”
“Aside from those things, everything else has been very easy to adapt to. I haven’t experienced much of a culture shock. I feel very comfortable living in Bali as a Black woman.”
Some countries, however, have left Taliya with feelings of discomfort and unpleasant memories.
“The main places I felt uncomfortable were the U.S. and Czech Republic. I was borderline kidnapped in Los Angeles while traveling alone on my 19th birthday. I had a guy try to rob me in Ecuador.”
“The craziest thing that has ever happened to me though, was when I saw a woman getting raped on the beach. While everyone was standing around pointing and video recording, I ran up and tackled him. Every time he tried to escape, I would have to run and tackle him again. All in all, I held him down for about two hours until the police came.”
“Right before that incident, on the same day, I drowned and had to be rescued by a lifeguard. Mind you I used to swim professionally. That’s just to give you some context into how rough the water was. It was a tough day to say the least.”
“Oh, and once my hostel burned down in Puerto Rico. I have had so many crazy things happen so far, whewww. I can go on for days but travel is something I will always prioritize in my life no matter what comes my way!”
“Traveling allows me to become the best version of myself. I’m the happiest and most positive person when I’m traveling because I love being out of my comfort zone. Traveling has taught me to become extremely adaptable, so now I feel like I can handle any odd and unusual situation that I’m thrown in, and can find the beauty in every little thing, good or bad. It also keeps me motivated to stay focused on my goals and create a lifestyle where I am able to show my family the world.”
As for her upcoming plans, Taliya says she’s looking forward to exploring more of her new home.
“We’re planning to travel to some lowkey islands and areas of Indonesia that not too many people have discovered yet. I’m extremely excited for that. Later on in the year, we’ll be visiting Croatia, East Africa, and West Africa.”