December 17, 2013

Day 70 – Busing it to Bangkok

This last week has been pretty amazing for me for several reasons.  Firstly, because I finally sat on a bicycle and tried to cycle.  Now, I know most people can cycle and whilst I have a driving license, I cannot ride a bike.  The guys I travelled with all can ride and bless them for trying to teach me. I didn’t get very far but for me it was a big step as for months/years I’ve been saying that I would try and learn.   The saying, ‘just like riding a bike’ thus, doesn’t really apply to me.  I was fortunate to get a lift and of course cycling down a country lane with someone on the rear isn’t easy!  I had great fun though, holding on to my seat and praying for my dear life.  We did, at one point, go straight into a swamp but I was too busy laughing to care about all the mud.

Travelling is fun and messy.  I didn’t pack my best clothes but of course we all want to look half decent when out and about.  Trying to look fashionable isn’t the priority; it’s more what’s practical and comfortable.   My sister was kind enough to lend me her rain jacket, only trouble is that it isn’t waterproof, so you get drenched! I made sure I bought a pair of walking shoes but I admit, I have yet to wear them.  I had no time to buy walking sandals so my rather comfy, pretty sandals are just about holding it together.

Good walking shoes are of course essential for walking, trekking and more importantly climbing.  I managed to climb my first mountain last week and it was the best feeling ever!  Ok so it wasn’t very high and undoubtably it wasn’t that hard.  But nonetheless it was great for me as I’ve wanted to climb a mountain for months.  For me, it wasn’t an easy climb; it was hard work getting up but totally worth it.  I can’t wait to climb another and yes I would work on my fitness levels!

Fitness or lack of fitness becomes more and more evident as you continue travelling.  Whilst, I’ve been told to do some kind of activity and I promised that I would, I didn’t sign up.  I enjoy walking but don’t jog or run.  I enjoyed yoga but stopped, never tried mediation and wanted to try tai-chi but have yet to sign up.  I want to make time and sign up to something that’s for sure once I’m home.

Travelling around in any kind of group also brings out certain qualities or characteristics in people.  For instance, you have those who are natural leaders, taking charge of the group and making decisions comes easily.  Then you have those who are good at organizing or remembering small details.  The ones who can read maps, this most certainly isn’t me, my sense of orientation is next to none.  The last kind, are the followers, the sheep and yes I do fit into this category at times for sure!

One of the most interesting things, I find, is people’s ability to compromise whilst travelling.  We of course all have a comfort zone and the more we try things out side of this zone the more terrifying or uncomfortable life becomes.  For me, initially it was the chaotic streets of Saigon, the cockroaches and the incredible heat.  Over time though, we adapt, I adapted and grew to accept many things that I thought were unimaginable.   I mean lets be honest, if we want English breakfast tea, hot water, beans on toast, The guardian, a window seat on the bus, a double espresso from Costa Coffee, dead straight hair, perfect eye mascara – then I guess travelling around isn’t necessarily going to be your cup of tea.

With the good and the crazy comes the not so fun side – take for instance all the mosquitoes bites. Initially I had very few but since coming to Cambodia, they’ve multiplied and yes it’s annoying and hard to ignore at times.  Then there’s food, being away from home, it’s the little things we all miss, so when and if possible you give into these cravings. For me these include; eating pancakes and honey for breakfast, a doughnut for lunch and ice cream after dinner! My love for mangoes is forever growing but my new flavor of the month is red berry or raspberry ice-cream!

We all have this comfort zone, we’ve had it for a while, some for years and we are comfortable so why bother moving?  Why venture out into the scary unknown world?  Why take a leap of faith?  Because that one leap, that one step, could be the best decision you make.  I struggled, I debated, I discussed but ultimately I made a jump and I’m better for it.  There was of course no guarantee, my decision could have been the worst thing I did but I would have never known without making it.

I believe we ‘make mistakes’ for a reason, we ‘fail’ so we go back and see something we missed the first time and some things fall apart so better things can come together.  They say, ‘when one door closes, another opens’, is that always the case?  No, I guess not.  Have I always believed that?  Again, no because it’s hard to see the silver lining when we are surrounded by nothing but darkness.  But all these moments, all these miserable, heart-breaking, scream worthy moments makes us stronger.  And we have a choice, whether we let it break us or whether we get up and start again.  Is it easy? No of course not but it’s worth it