A Month Without Sundays

The Backwaters

This looks like a good place to stop and never leave.

The pact was this: four months was not, actually, that long. Our time in Thailand was but a blip, our sojourn in Laos but a fraction of a blip. Two months in India sounded long on paper. On the ground, however, when the scale on the map lengthens before you, when centimetres become tens of thousands of kilometres, two months seems paltry and insignificant, barely enough time to pick up your backpack, see a Ganesh statue and eat a bowl of curry before you have to move on. We needed to move. We needed to go.

And so we went.

We had been riding hard. When we weren’t waking up in darkness to catch a train sputtering into the dawn, we were breaking free of our mosquito nets and jumping right into a hike. Faith gained the nickname “Walking Distance” as we suddenly took on hours-long slogs with our backpacks in the midday sun when she decided our hostels were close enough and when the prices for local transportation were just too expensive. We had stomach bugs that we were ignoring, mosquito bites so infected and grotesque that we were fielding offers from haunted houses to act as leprous zombies. We had long since abandoned shoes, our feet developing the hardened carapaces of crab pincers, the shape and texture and colour of a bull’s rear hooves. We ate and slept and drank and ran and danced and walked and hiked and moved and moved and moved.

We were frenetic and incapable of pacing ourselves. Every second that we weren’t going somewhere or eating something new felt wasted, a boon handed down from above that we were casting aside and neglecting like soiled Kleenex. This was our opportunity, and we didn’t know if we would ever return, so it was important to harvest as much as we could. We needed to absorb India, we needed to absorb all of Asia, as completely as we could. This was our lemon, and we were all squeeze.

It was exhilarating.

It was exhausting.

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The Glamorous Ass-Pain of International Travel

Welcome home. You're going to be here for a while.

Welcome home. You’re going to be here for a while.

It is hard, sometimes, to explain what a pain in the ass travel can be. The conventional wisdom is to not complain about your awesome time gallivanting around the world, because you do tend to come off like an ungrateful turd. Oh, your beautiful month of sun-drenched beach-dozing in Italy was marred by four hours on a bus? Please bathe in the great showers of pity I have for you.

Of course, part of this comes from the different mental idea many people have of travelling.

Now, as people who were backpacking through Asia for months and had already lived there for several years, our trio had a fairly high opinion of ourselves. Certainly we weren’t hiking Kilimanjaro in flipflops or yurting through Mongolia, but we had packed a lot of hardcore into our four months. In our greatest fits of self-congratulations, the three of us would have long talks about the nature of travel vs. the nature of a vacation.

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