the "other side" of traveling

So, I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you all about the other side of traveling. yes, we are having a blast and yes we are seeing so much of the world, and no, I wouldn’t have it any other way….however, there are many things that you encounter along the way that we haven’t shared because it isn’t all the “glory” of travel.

  • smells – exhaust, urine, garbage, poop, animals, spices, BO! – turning a corner doesn’t necessarily mean there is something rosy on the other side. In Thailand they cooked with a pepper sauce that would literally chocking as we walked down the sidewalk due to its immediate attack of our throat.
  • sounds – those of you that know me well, know that I am easily bothered by nasty bodily sounds- slurping, hocking *as in that throat noise to get bile ready to spit, spitting, the constant noise of engines and loud talking, sounds through thin hotel walls…including rats running around in the walls, horns constantly blaring
  • change – your plans are never solid, things constantly change, do you take a bus, a train, a motorbike, a cab, do you pay the rate or bargain and make a deal. do you stay in one hotel another night or search and search for a better deal in hopes of what you book will be nice and worth it.
  • food – I think here in Vietnam, I have eaten nothing but Morning Glory spinach with garlic and butter. When you read a menu, the food choices are often strange sounding and you never know exactly what you are going to get. Even if you order eggs…the other day, we ordered omelets for breakfast, it was as if they took eggs, put them in a pan and then put the pan in hot french fry oil…the omelet was served bubbling, crispy and coated in oil, I opted for a piece of bread.
  • beer – Ad and I are not big drinkers, but the heat is so intense that it is daily where we sit down and all we want is a nice cold brewsky.
  • cigarettes – EVERYONE smokes, 10 year old are selling you packs of them, everything buses, cabs, etc. smell of smoke. As non smokers, it can become a bit overwhelming.
  • Buy from me, Hello lady, look in my shop, my friend, buy from me, where you from? buy from me It seems that our beautiful American faces have been replaced with dollar signs. Left and right, all hours of the day, everyone wants our cash…that we haven’t budgeted for. The women and children, even after you say no, will stand there and glare at you until you make eye contact or say yes. You can wave your hand no, say no thank you, ignore…but regardless, they are relentless.
  • Ripped off – bargaining is very hard for the two of us, we actually stink at it. But, our math is also not so fantastic and we tend to make silly mistakes with money conversations and have found ourselves paying out the yingyang for little things. For example, 3 sodas..the woman tells me 150,000 dong. I don’t even think about it and hand over the money…hours later, I think back…oh my god, I paid close to 7.50 for 3 sodas…which should have been no more than 40,000 total.
  • no routine – this is really one of the hardest I think. Our sleep schedule is never the same, our eating schedule never the same, it takes a toll on you. We wake up, eat breakfast, come back to our hotel room, veg…then head out about 11 onto the town to walk for a few hours before being drenched in sweat and fumes when we come back to shower, then head back out again to find a place to eat…then, back to the room by nightfall to watch whichever movie is on the TV (Due hard and The Race to Witch Mountain seems to be on all the time) then, we upload our pictures, write a blog, skype, etc. Some times our time outside is much longer or shorter depending on the weather.
  • no windows, no balcony’s, little fresh clean air, finding what to do with your down time, trying to live completely in the moment and not think ahead, relax, relax, relax…
  • travel days – these seem to be the longest and are every 3 or 4 days. bus rides that are supposed to be 5 hours turn into 8, train rides that are supposed to be 11 hours turn into 15 (and the air is cut off around hour 9) hotels that are close to the airport tend to be down an alley we can’t find, the taxi drivers quote us 3x’s the metered rate…these are the most exhausting of all.  The buses make 4 stops at work factories trying to get us to buy 8 ft. tall marble sculptures or over prices silk clothing or art work. The buses drop you off at a partnering store or hotel so you will buy from them or stay there instead of at the bus terminal where you were destined to go. Possibly even the maps given to you by the company are skewed to make it look like you are in the center of town. Then, the workers play stupid pretending that we wouldn’t know any better and just accept what they say as the only hotel in town with vacancies and they are doing us a favor.

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