HOW’S IT GOING?
Today marks 100 days on the road. There have been highs, lows, and middles, but looking back, even the lows are highs. I have no complaints about life. During these past 100 days, I would say we have lived more life than we would have in 2 normal years back in the states. I can only hope for the rest of my life to have some days like these again. Still, we have some days ahead of us for this trip, but later in life, who’s to say? As we get older, it’s up to us to make sure we do.
After 100 days, we have hit our stride, fallen into a rhythm, and now feel somewhat at home on the road. In the past, when I had moved to different cities for work or school, I used to say that it takes 3-6 months to feel like you live somewhere. Right now we live here, literally as I write this, on the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We made some mistakes but also did some things right, so here’s a list in no particular order:
- We read the same thing everywhere online before this trip: make sure to buy Ex Officio underwear, and it could never be more true. They are soft, comfortable, quick drying, and never chafe. In 100 days, I have only worn 3 pairs of boxers, all ex officio. That probably sounds disgusting, but if you really sweat in them one day, you can just wash them in the sink real quick and they are good to go the next day. In that way, you can rotate them.
- Along the same lines, I would pack less clothes next time and buy them on the road as I need them. There are amazingly cool clothes everywhere you look, cooler than the ones you have at home, I promise. So no need to bring your favorite shirt from home, pack things from home you don’t mind throwing out after they get worn.
- Don’t bring nice sunglasses. Bring a 10 dollar pair from Walmart, or don’t bring any and buy some fake Raybans on the street for 5 bucks.
- Staying in shape is harder than you think, but we have lost weight. Only sometimes do we “exercise.” Most of the time we stay at a healthy weight because we carry our pack, walk a lot, eat less, and most of the local food we eat is healthier than our food back home.
- Always buy a guide book. It tells you what things should cost, gives great tips, and you won’t always have internet.
- When in doubt, always bring the disc. You never know when you will stumble on a park or beach thats perfect for a quick throwing session.
- Things that are great when they work: bug spray and sunscreen.
- You rarely need your own towel. Even when we pay 6 USD per person for a place, they usually provide us with soap and a towel.
- We bought daily malaria pills (40 pills) in Bali for 6 USD but haven’t taken any. In the cities, there is no risk. There are more mosquitoes in the summer in Wisconsin than I have seen in any place here. Just wear bug spray with DEET and don’t go laying naked in any swamps. Easy.
- Around day 30, I stopped washing my hair everyday… and it looks better.
- Traveling with someone for 100 days is tough, no matter who it is. It’s unbelievable sharing this experience with a significant other, but there is a need for a balance between doing everything together, and doing some things on our own. Maria and I are doing great on the road, and the times we do yap at each other is mainly because we are just tired/hungry/frustrated from whatever we did that day. After spending every second together for 4 months, we are even more excited for what comes next in our lives together. It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye on June 22nd.
- We are below budget. We spent about as much as we thought we would in Fiji and New Zealand, but SE Asia is cheaper than we thought. As long as you stay flexible and don’t book in advance, you can haggle for everything and get a great value. No wonder it’s the mecca for backpacking.
- I love Asian food (Thai food has been the best so far) but ya gotta switch it up sometimes. I can’t eat Thai food all day every day for a month, I’m just not Thai.
- We are just as safe as at home. Probably safer. Last year, our neighbor’s car was stolen from the front of her house in St. Louis. That just doesn’t happen here… people (locals) may try to rip you off or scam you into paying more than you should, but thats the worst you see on a daily basis as a tourist. For the most part, people are people, and I believe them to be outwardly nice.
If nothing else is learned from this trip, at least I have learned to go out and start living the life I want to live. You can spend years hoping for something to fall into your lap, or you can get up and grab it. We didn’t get lucky… it wasn’t luck. We worked for the money, saved (it costs less than you think), spent less at home, and figured out a way to do it without messing up our careers. You are only going to live one time and it’s now, so you better try your best to make it a good one.