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Published: July 28th 2014
Greetings to all and everybody!!!
And I hereby welcome each and every one of you to my 100th
Travelblog post!!! Warning, it’s about to get uber nostalgic all up in here!!! So please, bear with me….
Yes, 100 times I have now posted awkward attempts at being funny onto this website, meaning if you are so inclined, you could click “Previous Entry” at the top of this page 99 times and read my joyous writing for, well however long you can stand to do it. So remember that the next time you are up in the middle of the night, hung over, or at work. That said the more recent entries are definitely better than those first ones, when I did not use punctuation, or paragraphs.
General highlights off the top of my head would probably be the many different episodes of me falling on my ass, getting awkward massages in developing countries, and the various encounters with cultural differences in toileting. These memories can be connected to almost every country I’ve ever been to.
Less abstract memories? Well I could go on for a while… Touring those world wonders Taj Mahal, Chichen-Itza, and Angkor Wat; hiking
the Himalayas; climbing a volcano at night; being one of 6 non-Laotians at a full night dance rave; being on a lagoon cruise with a drunken Kiwi woman when the boat broke down, and it started raining; hiking the Inca Trail with two Vikings; scuba diving with hammer head sharks in Nicaragua and bull sharks in Fiji; seeing rhinos in Nepal and hiking through the jungle for 7 hours to see tapirs in Malaysia; paragliding strapped to a Nepali Orlando Bloom lookalike; trekking in New Zealand/Middle Earth; having our Thai bungalow invaded by fierce monkeys and Lindsay and I warding them off with shoes, books and screaming words (And thus began my hatred of monkeys); getting physically hit repeatedly by various random people all over Central America; going on a spine wrenching boat ride to swim in caves with my Dad in Fiji; ‘almost’ getting caught skinny dipping on a Malaysian beach; drinking with the Irish on a boat in North Vietnam; pedalling a rickshaw through the streets of Delhi; being jumped on by a monkey in Kathmandu and spending an entire night awake thinking I was going to die of rabies; being held on top of a camel by
my love handles in Pushkar; and skin diving Japanese warships in the Solomon Islands.
My Mom’s favorite story is from Cambodia, when Lindsay and I were crammed in the back of a 12-seater van, that had 29 people in it, and we were of course the first ones to get out. So instead of everybody getting out, we were motioned to just exit through the window. Which was about half the size of my body width. I’m sure you can imagine me climbing out this window, getting stuck half way, backside being pushed from behind by Lindsay and legs and arms being pulled from the front by a troupe of well-meaning moto drivers. And then those same helpful moto drivers caught me, in all my larger-than-the-average-Cambodian-woman glory.
But really, most importantly through it all would be the many incredible people that I have either gotten the privilege of travelling with, or met along the way and fallen in love with, in a “this is the coolest person ever, I hope they let me hang out with them” way. When you travel the way I do, which is by using as little money as possible every day so that
you can travel for more days total, you meet people in the strangest places, while probably not smelling or looking your best, and you can connect with them in the most profound ways. The people I have met make travelling not just a series of sights, but adventures filled with inside jokes, stupidity, and often ridiculous behaviour. So this is a shout out to all of the people I have met and have made my travels into adventures, been there to be equally befuddled by those toilet issues, and pick me up when I fell down (literally, I’m not being sentimental here, many of the following people have physically lifted me off the ground, while laughing at me).
I met Natalia at the border of Nicaragua and Honduras going north, both of us getting screwed around by Honduran authorities. That night, we shared a room in the Honduran capital, where we woke up in the dark to an earthquake. The next day we took a bus to a waterfall and I peer pressured Nat into facing her fears of falling off a slippery waterfall side, hitting her head, and drowning. Then we almost did die when our tuk-tuk driver
almost hit a cow.
Lindsay, Scott and I met Marc and Maria on a Chinese replica boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam. They were that ‘older’ couple that was travelling and who we basically started following. We met with them in several towns moving southbound in Vietnam, and when they weren’t around, we would constantly talk about how cool they were. And they were probably thinking, ‘When can we get rid of these Canadian idiots?!”
I travelled with Laurie and Pat, who I think of as my Central America guardians, on and off for my whole 3 months in CA. They are from the UK and let me be their third wheel starting in Mexico through Guatemala and then again in Nicaragua. They even helped me save some cash when we would show up at hostels. When we saw a room there would be a double bed and then a baby twin bed, so I would just sleep there! I did some great hiking with them, and more importantly a heck of a lot of eating.
Lindsay and I met Lauren on Christmas Day and then followed her to what I now think of as paradise on earth,
otherwise known as Bamboo Island off the Southern coast of Cambodia. Bungalows on the beach, a restaurant that served the world’s greatest spaghetti bol, and a sunset facing bay that was smooth and calm. Later we two-stepped on a Phnom Penh bar called Heart of Darkness. Yikes.
In Fiji, I worked with Vanessa, who introduced me to Billie, who I watched an obscene amount of rugby with, as well as Elke, who would turn out to be my wonderful roommate in Fiji, living together in the high tsunami risk zone of Suva Point. When Vanessa suggested I come to Nepal a few years later, I jumped on the chance, and we proceeded to watch Pitch Perfect and drink awful Chinese wine underneath the many blankets that were necessary to stay warm through the Kathmandu winter.
While Wade and I by no means met on an adventure (we’ve known each other since virtual infancy), he positively answered the random text I sent him asking if he felt like climbing the Golden Ears. We made the 7 hour climb to the top of what has to be one of the most gorgeous lookouts in BC, drank rum and cokes, ate
dehydrated S’mores (which obviously made me violently ill), and slept in a tent on the side of the mountain right beside a glacier run off creek. The next day coming down while chatting too much, we got off the trail and ended up bush-wacking our way out, eventually staggering to the car where neither of us could move our bodies in proper fluid movements. Phenomenal.
In Nepal I met a crowd of determined, ambitious, brilliant people, all who have shunned the get settled down idea and are traipsing the globe being their awesome selves. I discussed body functions and sang 80’s hits at full volume at a previously very peaceful yoga retreat with Lauren, Nikki, and Jackie. Later I went Himalayan hiking with Jackie and almost spent the night on an exposed 4,200m Himalaya lookout. Maddie and I met very briefly, and then decided over email to go to India for 10 days together. It worked out great and we both put on mucho curry weight, though she will never let me live down my mistaken idea of what Hogwarts House Luna Lovegood was in. Lizzie and I hit it off immediately talking very seriously about Neil Diamond and
Bonnie Tyler, then proceeding to have weekly wine and burger feasts in Kathmandu, making loud ruckuses wherever we went. I spent the newly invented Galintine’s Day (February 14th
) with Sam, Maddie, and Lauren, playing cards and eating what may have been poisoned chocolate.
In Cusco, I fell into step with a group of lively American girls. And then spent the rest of the day with them. This day culminated in going to the Pisco Museum, which is really just a bar that serves an insane variety of Piscos, where we sipped/slammed Pisco. We then kept touring the town and ate pizza and drank sangria!
Hannah appeared out of our dreams in Phuket, the cornrow braided Welsh dream that she was then. Her sense of humor is one that I would love to eventually live up to. That, and her ability to eat blood pudding. And drink beer.
The German girls, Isabel and Nina, came to us on a shared balcony in Melaka, Malaysia. With beer. We all then went to the East coast, where the skinny-dipping incident that also involved a gorgeous German dude occurred and sang karaoke while dodging flying chairs (Malaysians take karaoke VERY seriously).
This was followed by a trek through the jungle to sleep in a rat infested stilted hide where we spotted those elusive, and until then unknown animal to any of us, tapirs.
Seb and Elly were at the table next to us at a stopover restaurant while crossing the border to Laos from Vietnam. We then had a solid two weeks with them that included the Laotian all night dance festival and a late night snack of chicken feet, tubing in the Vang Vien river, (before it was shut down, as it proved to be super dangerous), and hanging out in Luang Prebang eating street meat.
And of course the people that I travelled/lived with long term, they are the true heroes in the stories. Not only are they amazing people for putting up with me for as long as they did, but they remain large parts of my heart for the time and memories that I share with them. Lindsay, my twin sister from another mister, my Southeast Asia co-explorer, and very worthy Shithead opponent (though I remain Champion, lets be honest!); Scottie too Hottie, who dropped himself on us in Vietnam and then kept us hilariously
confused for 6 weeks; Sally and Zoe, my gorgeous and brilliant co-workers/roommate/beach-worshipping goddesses in the Cooks; Karen, my hiking and blister hero in New Zealand; Kristen, my first true travel companion who at the ripe ages of 17 and 18, rode beside me in our 1984 Toyota Corolla named Suzie, through the Australia Outback; and of course the great Sue and Kevin Kydd, who I have travelled with since birth technically, but also by road-tripping New Zealand’s North Island and island hopping Fiji. Sue never did really get used to riding in a car on the left hand side of the road and almost wore a hole where ‘her’ brake pedal should have been before the actual driver (ME!) annexed her to the backseat.
And now I’m in Kyrgyzstan, where I won’t even begin to write out the great people I have already met and who are teaching me so many things in so many ways. They are simultaneously keeping me sane and very loved, while matching my weirdness with their weirdness. Seriously, if you ever want to meet an entire group of well meaning weirdoes, join the Peace Corps! People who will all understand what a straw in
a beer means, who have all eaten sheep meat and then probably digested it poorly, and who are all currently just as confounded by this whole thing as I am.
So thank you for coming along on this memory lane’esque blog. I’m pretty sure this is the closest to a sentimental blog that I have ever written, see I have feelings, who knew!? But I felt like Blog 100 was a milestone, and wanted to shout out to some of the people who have made this blog, and therefore my life the way it has been for the last 10 years. Sigh.
To all you wonderful people, may we meet again some day.
And to the many more adventures to come…
The content of this blog is purely my own. The opinions and views expressed here do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.
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