We reached the end point to our time in Asia and Zac and I have added to our list of thoughts, discoveries, realizations, observations and reflections. As with the last list, the points aren’t in any particular order of importance or significance. This is just a small glimpse at some of the recurring thoughts we have had during this incredible time of our life in SE Asia.
1. The kindness of strangers is unlike any other form of kindness. Since we arrived in Asia we’ve recongized many ways we have experienced unexpected kindness. For example, when we were balancing a steaming hot plate of food in our hands in a crowded Hawker food area and an older local gentlemen and his wife waved us over to share their table. Or when we were eating supper with a group of eight German travellers and they all spoke English so we could be part of the conversation. Or when a security guard lead us out to a busy taxi loading zone and found us a taxi that would take us to our destination for a fair price. As a society, I think we generally expect our friends and family to be kind, but when people we have never seen before extend kindness, with absolutely no expectation of receiving anything in return, there is no amount of gratitude that can repay that.
2. It is extremely difficult to pick a favourite country. They’re all so different and all so great for completely different reasons. So just a heads up, we don’t have an answer for those of you wondering what our favourite country is.
3. There are not enough adjectives to describe all the shades of green that exist in this world. I don’t know how the paint chip people come up with names for colours of paint but kudos to them for having such creative minds and/or access to a huge thesaurus!
4. As much as we love sharing our day to day adventures with our family and friends, only fellow travellers can fully understand and relate to our travel stories and experiences. People back at home can’t quite relate to our thrills and annoyances like other travellers can. I think this is part of the reason we experience an almost immediate heartfelt bond or friendship with people we only spend a few hours with.
5. Bus drivers, mini van drivers and taxi drivers that we previously would have categorized as crazy now seem normal. Somehow we’ve grown accustomed to passing traffic on blind corners, narrowly avoiding head on collisions on single lane roads and continuous acceleration and break slamming. We don’t even bat an eye when 20 passengers are squished into a 15 passenger van or when we’re sold a standard fare ticket on a greyhound style bus only to find out that our seat is a spot standing in the isle. It’s just how transportation works in the SE Asia and since none of the locals find it odd then it only seems natural that we don’t either.
6. Sidewalks do not have the same meaning in SE Asia as they do in other parts of the world. I think a more appropriate word would be sideparking. Cars, motorbikes, stall vendors, delivery vans, dogs, and men gathered in groups all seem to take priority over pedestrians on what should be the sidewalk. We generally don’t even bother looking to see if there is a sidewalk anymore and walk on the street.
7. We ate unrefrigerated eggs every day for the last four and a half months and did not get sick from them even once. And unrefrigerated meat. And we didn’t get sick from that either. Makes me think of all the space we could have in our own fridge and freezer if we just left our meat and eggs out on the counter.
8. Writing in our travel journals is one of those things that Zac and I find annoying, but at the same time not writing them isn’t an option. We are so grateful when we receive travel notes from others, so based on that alone we know the value of keeping a record of places we’ve stayed and what we’ve done and things we’ve seen. Beyond that, the recorded memories are priceless for Zac and I. Even now when we look back at our entries from a month or two ago we have so much fun reliving the experiences and I can’t imagine how great it will be to read through our entries a year from now and even fifteen years from now with our children. So, for the sake of sharing travel notes with others, and for future moments when we want to relive our travel memories, we write in our damn journals.
We are headed to Europe with mixed emotions. We’re excited to see another continent and two more countries, but sad to leave behind an area of the world we have grown comfortable exploring. The past four and a half months lead us to visit 8 counties, make some lifelong friends, strengthen our marriage and gain a whole knew perspective on life. The next month and a half in Italy and Croatia will undoubtably have many more thoughts, observations and reflections, so we will be sure to share them with you!