"And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home."
Wendell Berry

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Month Two

In my second month on the road, I kicked off my first foray into Asia with Hong Kong and then Thailand. I have to admit, despite the language barrier, different seasons (wet and dry), new systems of transportation navigation, and more conservative dress, I didn’t experience much culture shock and found it fairly easy to acclimate myself. I do realize, however, that this was likely because a) Hong Kong is super Westernized, b) apart from an organized trip to a Karen village, I clung very closely to the beaten path in Thailand, and c) almost everyone everywhere seems to speak enough English to help a girl out when I’m looking at everything in big eyed, confused wonder.

I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with the nomadic lifestyle; as I meet more and more travelers—gap year students, retirees, couples who’ve sold their homes and quit their jobs, families with young children—at this point, it’s actually starting to feel like staying put is what’s abnormal. This might be the longest period of time I go for alone, but I’ve started to realize that I need this, regularly, at least for a short amount of time. Maybe I’ll go for a month each year, or for six weeks, but there are so many places to see, I know it’ll take my whole lifetime to even make a dent.

From spending the majority of my time in HK holed up in my guesthouse alone without much human contact, I’ve definitely been savoring the islands of interaction with friends along the way more this past month. My best times have been spent joking about hipsters with John, battling feral monkeys with Wayne and Nicole, and shoveling shit and avoiding arachnids with Rachel. I also came to accept that traveling constantly doesn’t have to mean constantly doing things. I chill out at home, and can have off days here as well—even if home is a hotel room.

I learned quite a bit this month, of course: I learned to savor every single thing I put in my mouth. I learned to bargain well and with a smile, how to eat a crab, to give a Thai massage, to cook a mean red curry, to count and say hello and thanks in multiple languages, to rock climb (well, at least to start to), to tie a secure belay knot, to make banana balls, to mix cement, to stop traveler’s diarrhea dead in its tracks, and to understand the meaning of “Thai time.”

I also learned that it’s not how pretty your feet look, it’s how well they serve you to navigate tiny alleys and dusty hilltops. Even without toenails. This one’s for you, Rebecca:

Favorite place: Tonsai Bay, Thailand

Favorite experience: Being mommied by Pha Mai, the baby elephant

Favorite meal: Tie between spicy crab in Hong Kong and every meal I had at the Elephant Nature Park

Favorite saying: "Same same…but different.”

Favorite lodging: The homestay in the Karen village—at least in retrospect.


  1. What a truly amazing adventure my dear...and insightful to what matters and what is "bling".
    On a side note....your feet NOW match mom's upon return from the Canyon Death March! ugh.

  2. You're getting some bitchin' hobbit feet there! I'm more jealous of your food experiences than your big toenails...hope that's okay. :)