The Best of the Voyage (Part 7: Memories, Stories, And Wisdom)
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)
3 Beautiful Memories
- Watching the impromptu hostel party from the treehouse in Chiang Mai’s Deejai Backpackers – It was a night of many plans. I had intended to head to Boy Blues Bar with some guys I met at my hostel, but we were waiting for some others to return first. There were so many different groups doing so many different things, and as I sat in the covered gazebo, one after another would drift in and out, replacing someone the second they stepped off towards the main building. As the night wore on, I found myself surrounded by people, no longer drifting but rather lounging on the comfortable cushions and against the bamboo railings. By the time the people I was waiting for arrived, a proper kickback had begun. The vortex of energy towards the backyard of the hostel had sucked nearly everyone staying there in, and as my guys and I quickly realized, no one was going anywhere that night. In a perfect evening, that faded into the early morning, I experienced the chillest epitome of backpacker life – the absence of hurry, stress, or judgement in the face of multinational camaraderie in a collectively, beautifully foreign location. I climbed the outside of the treehouse quietly and sat watching the buzzing backyard, from the pool tables to the bar to the gazebo. My friend Adam climbed in soon afterwards, giving me company in observing my impromptu party, and we laughed and joked about our little pop-up family.
- The first night at Kampot’s Naga House – After a “sleeper bus” from Siem Reap to Kampot – during which we were woken up at 6 AM in Phnom Phen and dropped off drowsily at a random bus stop, with no information as to what we were doing there or how to connect to the next leg of the trip – Justine, Jens, and I deserved a relaxing, lazy, river-side refuge. Our tuk-tuk driver happily obliged, and brought us to the perfect destination: Naga House. Though Jens and I moved into a bungalow the next day (at $12 for the two of us!), we spent the first night in the dorm room ($3 per bed!), where we met the first of our friendly hostel-mates. After putting our things down and changing out of our wet clothes, we joined the rest of the hostel, languidly lounging in the wicker papasan chairs overlooking the river. After a delicious mixed drink and some of the dankest hostel food we’ve ever had, we were enjoying the super chill vibe and an adorable Labrador when it began to drizzle. We ran under the covers, but were drawn out into the ensuing thunderstorm by the absolutely stunning lightning show that resulted. Standing there, under the rain, with the rippling river unfolding beneath the stormy sky, with my favorite travel companion next to me.. well, it was a pretty perfect moment.
- Jens – Enough said.
2 Funny Stories
- Sean and the shirt – Mere hours after the conclusion of the Full Moon Party, my friend Charlotte and I were in the back of a tuk-tuk, heading from our beach-front bungalows on Koh Phangan to the ferry that would return us to Bangkok in time for our international flights. It was a bittersweet drive; I had to remind myself that it wasn’t “goodbye” but rather “see you later” to the group of ten friends who had snowballed together by the conclusion of my Thai month. They live all over the place – Australia, Holland, England, Spain, and Norway – and all were still traveling by the time I returned to Europe, so I knew it wasn’t likely that I’d see them again for a while. Charlotte reminded me that I would be in Spain at the same time as our friend Sean, and we talked about his plans for literally a minute before turning to the back of the tuk-tuk and seeing Sean on a moto-taxi, riding up behind us! Hilariously, as I hadn’t realized that Sean and Charlotte had switched shirts earlier in the night, Sean immediately stripped off his shirt as Charlotte grabbed his shirt from her bag (where it was thankfully placed in a front pocket). He spurred his motorcycle driver, and as we ducked and wove through the windy roads of Koh Phangan, they passed the shirts to one another at what must have been 50 MPH. After the successful transaction, Sean smiled, waved to us, and drove off, leaving Charlotte and me in absolute astonishment and amusement. I couldn’t have dreamt of a more fitting farewell to island life and the Southeast Asian experience.
- Sledding in Tübingen – To preface this story, I should say: I live in the part of California where it never snows. I should clarify this, because surprisingly, some people don’t realize that it does snow in California (we got it all!). But I only started snowboarding at 15, and my experience with snow before that was pretty limited. So, after a particularly surprising night in which fall turned to winter (a story probably funnier than the one I’m telling you now, but not PG .. that is, Pocket Gypsy-safe), a group of friends and I decided to go sledding. After all, that is what people do in snow, right? The one German amongst us probably should have advised us against using a baking pan as a sled, but we were limited in options. However, we were rich in ideas, so we “fortified” the pan with cardboard and a trash bag and set out to the hills to test our contraption. Needless to say, it didn’t work – the snow was too powdery and the pan had too many sharp edges, and we ultimately took turns physically pushing one another down a hill as the “sled” disintegrated beneath us. Still, it was a beautiful walk through the woods, an excuse for a snowball fight, the setting for one of my favorite photos from the Voyage, and reason enough to spend more time with some awesome people.
1 Word of Wisdom
- Experience. Experience as much as you can, both the good and the bad. Soak up every taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch. Never be idle – make every moment, even those of stillness, meaningful. Seek to learn something from every place you visit, every person you meet, and everything you do. Travel is an actualization of the utter potentiality of life, and if travel has taught me anything, it’s that there is always more to everything than we think.