As we sit here in a Kathmandu tea house pouring cup after steaming cup of divinely balanced Nepali Milk Tea down our hatches while plugged into the global fabric thanks to a rare gift of reliable Wi Fi, something occurs to me -- independent travel is an essential rite of passage enabling all who embark upon it to
1. Recognize the relativity of their culture
2. Witness the unyielding dynamics of global interdependence
3. Thumb their nose at the absurdity of object fetish consumerism
Now I'm not claiming that wanting a fresh pair of kicks, diamond earrings or a Bugatti are irreconcilable vices; but after last week experiencing the extreme wealth and excess of a place like Dubai immediately followed by arrival in a mad house brick and mud hole in the ground toilet constant black out $694 per capita GDP world like Nepal,
It makes me wish that global standards of living were more attuned to the balance level of this Nepali Milk Tea. It really is so, so good.
Now that we got that bit of the way, let's talk about some recent experiences on the road --
We dipped out of Koh Tao on 5 September, spent a harrowing day and night on the cheapest boat/bus combo we could find (tip : choose a medium priced transportation package when confronted with a range of options), passed a pad thai and ping pong filled day/night in Bangkok, and hopped on a plane to Nairobi, Kenya.
We continue to debate whether layovers in which you don't leave the airport count as having visited a country. I say yay, Becca says nay. While I don't really feel that us being in the international terminal of Nairobi for 4 hours means that we've been to Kenya, I do believe that you can learn/experience a lot of a place from ground time in one of their transit hubs
In Melbourne, Australia we learned that Fosters beer isn't actually an Australian brand and is instead a marketing gimmick; in Australia, for whatever bizarre reason, they seem to prefer Corona.
In Nairobi, we learned about the exotic Amarula fruit; small and orange like a kumquat, it's also the base of a popular cream liquor. Animals seek out this fruit once it has fallen on the ground and fermented, wobbling around in an intoxicated state afterwards (proof: youtube link)
In Doha, Qatar we learned that although they just built the new Hamad International Airport in 2014 and expect to accommodate 30 million visitors a year with world class facilities and duty free raffles in which you can win a million dollars or a new McLaren, they still have gaping defects in their PA system which cause it to frequently go off delivering fractured gibberish announcements (definitely not Arabic) at ear splitting volumes. Becca's mom knows all about this, as it became increasingly difficult to Skype with her due to these.
Okay, you see we have a lot to write about -- or rather I've made a lot of observations / formed many opinions ( that's one of the important premises of travel, no? ) and so it can be daunting to write a blog post because there are thousands of experiences you're still assimilating. I actually meant to write about Africa when first beginning to type, but so much happened in the interval between Koh Tao (Becca's post a few days ago) and our arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, it would be a glaring omission to skip out on some of the details. Africa needs it's own post, several in fact. So I'll do that this week once we get settled in; we're jumping on a bus to Pokhara, Nepal tomorrow and setting up camp in an apartment near the lake there.
Our journey continues to be an enriching and charismatic experience beyond any expectations we had upon setting off almost 7 months ago. We jumped ship from LAX with little to no plan outside of new camping equipment / backpacks , a week R&R stopover in Fiji, and Working Holiday Visa's for New Zealand. We hardly had enough money to spend a proper weekend at Downtown Disney -- truly, if we tried to get a park hopper pass, 2 nights hotel room, nice meals and a few souvenirs -- we would have bankrupted ourselves.
But life had other plans for us : we adapted to our new environment, learned what it would take to survive, and then we far surpassed that threshold and thrived. I really wanted to use throve instead of thrived, but I will play by the rules.
Highlights of the voyage up until African Safari (which itself was nearly a month ago...so we have a lot of infotainment we're sitting on) -- presented in free association shenanigan form
kava ceremonies birthday bash police cover band (actual police officers) coral sea kayaking waterfall bathing coconut slurping kiwi picking road tripping elfin hot springs glow worm caves bike riding hostel managing clock punching seafood processing pig hunting snowboarding monkey temple massage dirt floor warung kombucha swigging China Town yellow fever vaccine at Petronas Towers Yemeni cigar food cart foreign fruits way too hot cramped on trains colonial architecture scuba diving white sand beaches beach front bungalow skin peeling shipwreck night dive.
Thanks for reading, even if you didn't make it this far.