It's 10pm and I'm in my little "hotel room", a luxury justified by a cold I recently contracted when 2 French girls coughed all over my dorm room over a week ago. Unlike them I'll try not to infect the rest of the world.
When any milestone passes, I try to look back and see how far I've come. Every year when my company became one year older, I'd set aside some time to reflect and compare the then and the now. Today marks six months, or 180 days by the count in my journal, traveling solo abroad. What was I expecting? If you told me a year ago that I would be in Malaysian Borneo writing a blog post marking 6 months travel, would I have believed you?
The answer is probably. I'm that gullible (not true). It was about 15 months ago that I started to lay the groundwork for this journey, 2 years since I first traveled overseas, and about 3 years since I realized the importance of challenging myself in big ways needed to be a big part of my life (Crypt Lake). When I look back like this, it all makes a little more sense in how I got here.
The significant number today seems in contrast to the occasional dullness of travel. It's not all climbing volcanoes, scoping out wild Oran-Utans on chocolate rivers, or jumping out of planes. On the contrary, today was about as bland as you can get.
On a day like today I wake up, send some e-mails, eat some raisins for breakfast (sorry Mom), and start to gather the tools for the real challenge of the day. Challenge sounds good right? Well this was the stuff-this-small-box-full-of-knick-knacks-to-send-back-home challenge. Tools like packing tape, yellow paper to write my address on, and a bunch of old newspaper to fill in the gaps needed to be collected. A couple of hours later, having packed the box up, and sealed it entirely with packing tape, I met a friend from Couchsurfing for a Malay lunch before heading to the post office. Sounds like a roaring success to me.
I've used my cold to justify catching up on some TV I'm missing from home, and The Ricky Gervais Show, Death Comes to Town, and Check It Out with Dr Steve Brule have come through with the occasional MMA related show. I indulged a bit today before heading out to dinner about 8pm.
Dinner at my favourite place in KK for thai food was also a date with my iPhone. There isn't a lot of conversation, I'm the one doing all the touching, and in the end, I always get the bill. So is the solo traveler's restaurant blues.
That brings me back to now, sitting on the bed in this little room. All of the belongings of my current life, the contents of a 55L backpack, are strewn about the floor. Empty water bottles are stacked next to the garbage can and my bed. Music is playing out of the crappy speakers in my laptop, and I'm writing this while staring at a glowing rectangle. Not what you may think of when you dream of traveling around the world...
Looking back though, I've trekked in remote jungles, bungee jumped a bunch of times, hung out on active volcanoes, climbed mountains, run on deserted beaches, rolled down a hill in a plastic ball, fell out of a perfectly good plane from 15000ft, & scaled limestone cliffs. I've waded through fish markets, with flopping fish splashing me as I walk by. Eaten in the streets while the cockroaches crawl across the pavement at my feet, watched the sunrise on an island paradise, and watched bats fly out of a cave by the thousands. That's just a few things that pop into my mind...
I've met amazing people through couchsurfing, my website, and just traveling about. Strangers have offered me their home to stay in. People have gone out of their way to help me when I needed it most, and I've tried to do the same for others when I could.
Even on the dull days, I wouldn't have it any other way.