On the brink of our 6 month mark, and with so much that’s changed in the past few months, here’s another look at what we’ve learned about the world, people and ourselves on the road.
- Plans change. A lot.
The other day, just for fun, we counted how many times our (admittedly loose) idea of a travel plan had changed over the past 6 months. Something around 10 major detours had been discussed, planned for and sometimes acted on over the course of our travels. Not only have we scrapped the plan to return to Europe via Tran Siberian train through Russia, but a half of a dozen other major decisions have left us with experiences or locations we never expected. We nearly went to New Zealand on a winter roadtrip. We almost visited the exotic island locale of Vanuatu. We almost spent a bundle on a cross-country train trip through Australia. But we didn’t. We did other awesome stuff instead like a dive cruise through Indonesia, skirting around Myanmar by train or enjoying the culinary delights of Nepal.
- You get good at shuffling cards.
Seb and I love talking, and we love talking to each other. But after 6 months, sometimes you just run out of things to say. A few months ago, we learned a few 2-player card games and we have since worn out 3 decks of cards. We’ve also picked up some very useful 3 or 4 player games for those times we’re hanging out with fellow travelers or locals. With little need to verbally communicate, this is a fun way to interact when you don’t speak the same language. Our trek porter Rupak turned out to be a total card shark and not only amazed us with some great tricks, but he kicked our asses in Spades every day.
- Something’s wrong with you every…single…day
I have literally lost count of the number of physical ailments we have endured in the past months and it would not be very interesting for me to enumerate them here, but we are continually amazed at how well our bodies are holding up given the fact that something goes wrong every day. We thankfully have had no serious illness or injuries along the way, and only had to seek out council from a couple doctor visits, but I kind of can’t wait until the scars and battle wounds stop accumulating. Anything from massive mosquito attacks to food poisoning and fatigue have kept us from feeling our best on any given day. We have to try our best to take care of each other and our infirmities, which brings me to our next point…
- You share all kinds of unsexy with your partner
Someone recently told me that successful backpacking includes lowering pretty much all your expectations – including seeing the clean, kempt, groomed, ungross partner everyday. While this was especially true on our recent trek, as a whole, backpacking is not likely to bring out your most glamorous side. Checking out weird fungus or infections, cleaning dirty body parts in front of the other and unfortunate lapses of control for pretty much every bodily function, I am not proud to say, have become somewhat normal. We do try to plan some date nights from time to time where we put on our best clothes (ie: least stinky) and put on some perfume (or at an extra layer of deodorant) and have a romantic meal in a nice restaurant where we connect over subjects NOT linked to our next travel plans.
5. You get homesick
This is an unexpected one for both of us. We have both traveled quite a bit, I have even lived in a foreign country for almost a decade, and although sometimes we’ve missed aspects about home, this is the first time in a very long time either of us have felt homesick.
The thing is, we don’t actually have a ‘home’ right now – having left France and not yet moved to the US, we are figuratively and geographically in between the two countries. But we increasingly feel the longing to be settled, to dig in some roots and to have our chez nous. We feel excited to get back to the grind of work and we are more than ready to enjoy Western plumbing. For these and some other personal reasons, we are planning to end our Asia travels around the 6-month mark instead of the previously anticipated full year of travels. We are so happy with our decision and have no regrets about anything we’ve done (or haven’t yet done) during this year (with the possible exception of one very sketchy massage experience in Vietnam). We feel full and happy and also very ready to come ‘home’, wherever that may be!