The end, the end.
After two months, I’m leaving Asia.
Looking at the bigger picture… after 9 months, I’m finally heading back to the U.S. with no plans to leave it.
I spent my multiple hours in airports over the past few days reading through all of my blogs. What struck me most is what I said very early on about why I was writing:
And so, I journey forward. The fear remains, and will remain for quite a while, I suspect. But this is why I write. I need to show myself, when I reach the end of the road, that I may have quivered as I initially stepped foot, but I made it to the end and survived.
Some of my travels:
|Slovenia…. and sadly none of Ireland because I was a terrible tourist there.|
Let’s delve into some statistics, shall we?
Number of countries in which I stepped foot since August: 10 (United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Slovenia, Thailand, Laos, China, Cambodia, Vietnam.)
Number of communist countries: 3 (Laos, China, Vietnam) of the 5 that exist (including North Korea and Cuba). As a McCarthy, I don’t know how to feel about that.
Number of beds: 25 (including the times I crashed with someone in the city where I was already living, like the little tramp I am)
Number of plane rides: 24 (Sorry, Earth. I’ll make it up to you…)
Number of illnesses/injuries: For an 19th-century disease prone hypochondriac, surprisingly few. I don’t recall getting sick in England or at home, minus a few normal-for-me ear things and some colds. My biggest injury was by far the time I scraped up my leg after crashing a motorbike, which has left me with a pretty awesome scar on half of my calf. This obviously means that the second I’m home, my dengue fever and/or malaria kicks in. I’ve already decided to go to the Naval Hospital if that happens, just to give the lads some practice dealing with a tropical disease. I’m a giver!
Number of times I cried: Let’s just say a few. And a few too many over Skype, including to the Me in Ireland after I had known her for only about three months (what a saint, huh?), to Katie & Amanda after they did something normal and I cried over the normalcy; when I learned the greatest kitty in the world had to go to the big litter box in the sky.
Number of rainy days in England: A gazillion
Number of rainy days in Asia: Maybe 10 minutes total over the two months. When they say “dry season,” that’s apparently not an exaggeration…
Number of guests/travel partners: 7
Number of times I blew out the fuses or lost electricity in the last three months: 6 (In Virginia, China, Laos, Vietnam [10 minutes before I had a Skype interview – THAT was fun] and twice in Cambodia. Two times were my fault. I’ll let you decide which two.)
Amount of DEET I applied in the last two weeks to ward off dengue fever and malaria: Two bottles. I wish I were kidding. That can’t be healthy. I also read that apparently DEET leaves your system through urine, so that’s interesting. And weird to think about.
Favorite place (in Asia): That’s gonna go to China, by the pure fact that I got to actually do normal people things there like go to trivia night and I didn’t have to worry about how to navigate the city or speak the language. Plus I stayed in plush accommodations. SO I’m taking it out of the running, and putting in a vote for…. Chiang Mai, for the balance of things that I did (some touristy things, like playing with elephants and taking a bike tour; some relaxing things, like hanging by the pool and eating a bunch of cheese; and some “local” things, like going to a great yoga studio a couple of times). Phnom Penh, for how much it surprised me (crazy city with a coffeeshop on every corner and a delicious French restaurant down the street from our hotel – we definitely went back twice). Chau Doc, purely for the luxury hotel. Saigon, for being so Saigon-y. Crazy and loud and vibrant.
Where Do I Want To Return? Besides London, as always? SAIGON! Vietnam!!! I feel sufficiently traveled in the other countries, although I would love to go back to Thailand with an SO and lounge around the islands, but there’s so much more of Vietnam I want to see. Saigon is an awesome city, and one day I would love to come back and take a couple of weeks to finish my plan and travel up to Hanoi. Plus, I first had this drink called sugarcane juice there, that is literally just juice from a sugarcane. That’s it. It puts sweet tea to shame.
Most important thing I learned: That faking it until you make it actually works. A secret part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to handle working short-term in London. A secret part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to travel solo through Asia. But I jumped right in anyway, faking my confidence and my abilities. Somewhere along the way I realized I wasn’t faking it anymore; I was doing it. And so that is the biggest lesson from K10 Travels I want you to take with you, gentle reader: never try, never know.