The Instagram effect is a thing. It’s a great outlet for inspiration and artistic expression, BUT. The big ol’ but. For me (and I’ve read this is true for most people) it can also cause massive FOMO and feelings of not quite measuring up to the perfection that is broadcast. I could probably write an entire post on this alone. I might. But not here.
No HERE I want to show anyone who would find a good healthy dose of messy reality refreshing five times when travel – for me – was not a pretty post. Or any kind of pretty at all.
It was my first solo international trip and my first study abroad experience. Since I lived in the Midwest, my connecting experience was: Kansas City – Denver – LA – Beijing – Qingdao. Whew. We Midwest folks are used to it. Unfortunately due to weather (it was February), my flights were delayed out of Kansas City and Denver. Meaning I landed in LAX about 10 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave. Meaning by the time I actually got off the plane and got my bags I had well and truly missed my international flight out of LA. It was just past midnight. NO ONE WAS AROUND. A ghost town. Really LA? Really? I found the (empty) check-in desk I would need and proceeded to do the only thing I could do. Wait. Until the morning. Sleeping on the floor (not my first time, but still sucks).
Since this kind of thing had never happened to me before, I had no idea what protocol was. Would I have to pay for another flight? I couldn’t afford that! I ended up being put on the first morning flight to Beijing and all was well, but it was hella stressful in the meantime. Thank you sibling for letting me freak out in the wee hours of the night to you over the phone. He still gives me grief for it.
“Chorro” in Guatemala
Mi amor and I had been at his parent’s house in Guatemala less than a week, and SOMETHING that was put in my body wanted out. Quickly. It seemed to think either end would do. I woke up uncomfortable about four in the morning and spent the entire day in the bathroom or sleeping it off in the hammock like a sweaty zombie. Luckily it lasted less than 24 hours, but I was miserable. Way to make good impressions on the fam, right?
Smiling Through the Stink in Qingdao
I’ve forced down a good handful of things for the sake of politeness. I do not regret this. However, the worst thing I forced myself to eat was a dish served to me during an outing with the family of a small boy I was tutoring in Qingdao. Tofu is very common and called dòufu (豆腐) in Chinese. I enjoy it. They wanted to serve me a local specialty called chòu dòufu (臭豆腐) . AKA…stinky tofu. And they mean STINKY. It smells like a barnyard from blocks away. I’m not even exaggerating. A literal barnyard. From literal blocks away.
Squished in Cambodia
In order to get from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, my travel buddy and I opted to take a boat down the Tonle Sap River. Slower, but much more fun (my love for water is enough a part of my personality that it’s mentioned in my About page). It was all set to start with a shuttle from our hostel to the dock. Simple, right? Well, a van that was meant to hold about 12 people showed up with…about 12 people inside. No worries, my buddy and I are pretty short so we just squeezed on in. As you can see below, I do mean squeezed. Note the grip of the elderly Asian woman keeping my friend standing upright at the front of the bus.
I assumed we were the last or next to last stop. I assumed wrong. My memory fails in recalling exactly how many people ended up in that van, but it had to be at least double whatever maximum capacity was supposed to be. I’ve since gotten used to being squished like this all over the world. Especially in places where folks tend to have less money, every free centimeter that can be used will be. It makes sense. It’s still uncomfortable.
Missed Life Of Loved Ones
One of the great trade offs of choosing to travel for a longer bit is the missed life with loved ones. Events and troubles and the day to day. While traveling I have missed: bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, new jobs, new homes, new babies, break ups, hospitalizations, injuries, graduations, and a lot of time with the guy below. It sucks, but everything in life has its benefits and consequences. This is a major consequence of long-term travel that every one should consider. It is probably the hardest thing for me. The most not pretty part about all of my travels.
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