I know it has been a while since I last checked in, but, if I am being honest, I have simply been having far too much fun wandering to take a breath and write.
As of today, I have been on the road for 3 months…I am almost at the conclusion of what I like to think of as phase 3 of my life abroad.
I am not usually one to count off the number of stamps in my passport as a badge of traveler’s honor, but for the sake of updating you, here we go…in the last 3 months I have visited 5 new countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) and enjoyed another two weeks as a tourist back in Thailand.
Over the course of 90ish days, I have spent over 100 hours on 20+ busses, more than 15 hours on 7 flights and over 20 hours on 10+ ferries, plus countless hours riding in taxis and vans and on motorbikes and waiting at bus stations and airports.
I have slept in hostels, hotels, homestays, airports, on overnight buses and in bunk beds, twin beds and Queen beds. I’ve made friends with a cast of characters from all over the world, including locals and fellow travelers from the US, Canada, Germany, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, France, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovakia, etc.
I have trekked rice terraces, mountains and volcanoes; canyoned down cliffs; scuba dived off the coast of several islands; and motorbiked around a national park. Some days have been devoted entirely to sightseeing, touring or in transit, while others revolved around eating, reading, swimming and napping and even the occasional Netflix binge.
It has been a wild ride indeed.
When I started this blog, I was pretty bored teaching in Thailand. My schedule was absurdly light and easy, so I spent a majority of my week sitting at my desk, thinking about my experience thus far and reading travel blogs…both of which made me want to share my own thoughts. I also figured a blog was a good way to keep in touch with people back home and that when I started traveling I would update it every few weeks or after each country.
Well, something unexpected and yet fantastic happened…I found that once I started moving around, my desire to stop and write essentially vanished. You see, with the constant stimuli of newness that backpacking provides, I have been far too busy having a grand f**king time to stop and think about it.
Because that’s what the last few months have been. A grand f**king time.
I’ve heard from family and friends either directly (via emails and texts) or indirectly (via comments on social media) that my travels look amazing/unreal and that I am living the life. I will not lie or beat around the bush here…most of the time, it has been absolutely amazing/unreal and I am loving it.
But as anyone with a social media account knows, things are not always as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will have you believe. We all present carefully curated versions of ourselves and our lives on the interwebs.
For instance, I didn’t post about my week-long battle with bed bugs in Indonesia and my pictures cannot convey that in order to capture that amazing (yet still, filtered) volcano sunset photo, I had to endure a grueling 8-hour hike up that god-forsaken mountain…Oh, and that’s also when I discovered the bed bugs. On top of a mountain, overlooking a volcano. With no bug-free clothes for another 20ish hours. When I got off that mountain I looked like I had the chicken pox.
I also partially did not feel like writing because I recently read some articles highlighting and condemning the privilege that exists within the travel industry, especially among young, white, western backpackers. Some authors feel that there’s a certain level of entitlement and expectation we bring to the table when we brag about our life-altering experiences online, not considering the expense many local people and places must endure for the sake of tourism.
It is a controversial topic I do not care to get into right now, but it made me uncomfortable and feel as though I have no right to sit here and write (brag) about my own entitled experience. I am still unsure how I feel about continuing to blog, but I also do not want to not share. Maybe I am contributing to a problem within the travel industry – but I am also a pretty good and self-aware person who acknowledges my absolute privilege to be able to do what I am doing. So I will consider those moral implications later.
But for now, at the end of phase 3, after 3 months on the road, I’ll leave it here. Just wanted to send out a quick hello!
I will write again soon when I take another break.
Until next time. Stay tuned.