When I was travelling around Asia, I had to plan my days out accordingly.
For one, each town was maze-like, filled with hundreds of alleyways that looked the same and anyone could get easily lost in. And unfortunately, you have to be realistic in a foreign country and be aware of those willing to take advantage of a simple, ignorant foreigner with a wallet full of cash.
But the most routine thing I had to plan every day? Water. Tap water isn't drinkable in countries like Vietnam or Thailand, so you would need to buy bottled water from either your hostel or local store. And Southeast Asia isn't a place where you can just walk around town without a drink. The heat gets to you quickly, dehydrating your body at an alarming rate and making you feel dizzy. So every morning, I'd decide whether I needed to buy one or two bottles of water, how long they'd last me, and if I had the right cash to buy more later on (pretty much all stores didn't accept card). I remember one particularly bad day where I was exploring the Bai Dinh Temple grounds in Ninh Binh. It was a scorching hot day, I quickly gulped down my one bottle of water, and was getting dehydrated quickly. Vietnamese women with carts of water followed me, sensing my thirst but willing to only charging triple the usual amount for water (a smart business tactic). Being the stubborn cheapskate that I am, I soldiered on. It got so bad and I looked to be in such rough shape, some other tourists I met had to force me to pay up for the expensive water so I wouldn't turn into a puddle on the spot. Clean water was just one example of something I appreciate so much more once I returned to Canada. Sure, it's a pretty privileged thing to realize, but it still was a wakeup call to see how easy we have it back in North America.
Same goes for friends and family. Travelling alone, I realized just how much I talk with family and friends on the daily. There were some days that would go by without a conversation, either due to a almost empty hostel, or my guide or host wouldn't be able to speak English with me (and I couldn't speak Vietnamese or Thai). It's in these days where you really have the chance to dig down deep within, and think about what's eating you up. What do you like about being alone? What don't you like? I'm grateful for the isolation I got, as it gave me a peace of mind I hadn't been able to find for a long time, and it also made me appreciate the relationships I had back home.
Stay tuned for more travel blogs!
- Fraser (Communications Coordinator a With Love Darling)