The Best of the Voyage (Part 6: Things I Wish I’d Done)
Part 1: Hostels (August 29)
Part 2: Bars and Restaurants (August 30)
Part 3: Facts and Cities (August 31)
Part 4: Lessons (September 1)
Part 5: Useful Things to Pack (September 2)
Part 6: Things I Wish I’d Done (September 3)
Part 7: Memories, Stories, and Wisdom (September 4)
4 Things I Wish I’d Done
- Eaten more exotic fruit. Cutting a jackfruit requires a handsaw and a lot of upper arm strength, but it’s absolutely worth it. In California, it’s easy to buy quartered slices of jackfruit from Indian markets, but preparing it further is pretty messy. But in Asia, this massive prickly fruit grows off practically every tree (it’s a miracle there aren’t more jackfruit-caused deaths, actually) and is regularly sold on the side of the road. Because of my weak stomach, I didn’t risk buying this delicious treat – it’s recommended to eat only whole, non-porous fruit that can be peeled, and even this only after washing it with filtered water. But I did regret it for months after. Another fruit I wish I ate more of: lychee. We have them in the States, but in Southeast Asia, they’re nearly free, and they’re so easy to munch on!
- Participated in more location-specific activities. I jumped off a 40-foot cliff near Dubrovnik, kayaked out to an island off of Koh Tao, scootered from Pai to Chiang Mai, and waded through a canyon for six hours in Nerja. These are stories that are location-dependent – the water is too cold in Santa Cruz, the motorcycle laws are way stricter in the States (slash, exist at all), and though I am proud to be a Californian, there’s something about the beauty of a new landscape that always excites. So when I think back to swimming in crystal clear waters, or hiking in gorgeous jungles, or dancing in the rain under a lightning-strewn sky, there’s a part of me that wishes I did more with my time abroad. For example, I skipped rock-climbing in Vang Vieng, and scuba diving in (again) Koh Tao, and rope swinging in Luang Prabang. I even missed Monk Chat, a priceless opportunity to speak with young monks in informal conversations, held at Buddhist temples and universities through Chiang Mai. I have such respect and interest in the monk life, so I regret not having taken advantage of the regularly-held meetings. Though I’m happy with the experiences I had, I know next time, I’m going to put more of an emphasis on engaging with nature and my unique surroundings.
- Danced more. For whatever reason, I didn’t dance that often this year. Sometimes I was amongst people who didn’t dance at all (making me feel awkward), and sometimes I was amongst people who danced like Miley Cyrus (making me want to leave the room entirely). Sometimes I was upset, and sometimes I was so happy just connecting with people that I didn’t feel like moving from my seat. Sometimes the music was terrible, and sometimes I just hadn’t had enough to drink to tolerate it. In California, I’m plugged into the network of house parties, clubs, and lounges that play the kind of music that gets me to dance, and I hadn’t realized how much the absence of this network would affect me. But regardless, I wish I joined my friends on stage during our visit to a Chiang Mai ladyboy show; I wish I jumped on the tables with them at the Full Moon Party; and I wish I checked out more of these famous European dance clubs. I heard so much good music this year, but perhaps it’s a reflection of how I’m slowing down as a human that it didn’t compel me to move. (That being said, some of my favorite dance moments include: the Imperial Indian Banquet afterparty in Tübingen with Cody and company, Rebirth Brass Band at Seattle’s Bumbershoot with Adam and Chris, and Fizz Beach Lounge in Koh Tao with Jillian, Sasha, Chloe, and Sam.)
- Kept a notebook for interesting/funny/unique things. Every time someone would recommend a movie or book or song, or said something worth quoting, or gave him their contact information, my friend Ben would whip out his pocket-sized notebook and jot it down. As a result, he compiled a wonderful summary of his trip, with things that he might have otherwise forgotten immortalized through this simple process. Even writing this post now has proven difficult, as so many stories from the year are lost in the fog of memory. I had bought a notebook in India with the express purpose of illustrating the post-India part of the trip, but somehow this practice fell by the wayside. As a writer, I should have kept better track of my observations – though there’s always next time, and luckily a string of contacts along the way who can help me remember.