One hundred and fifty days. It’s a big number, to be sure. Put another way, it’s five months. When you say it out loud—as I have over the last few days in idle hostel chit-chat—it sounds rather impressive.
But it doesn’t seem like that much to me. And it’s hard to believe it’s only five days to Christmas. It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. I’ve chatted to many Australians about this these last few months, and I have to say that Christmas in the summer seems like a waste—what makes Christmas great is that it gives meaning and purpose to winter! So, in hot and sunny Goa, it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit—which is good, since I don’t have anyone to share the spirit with. I haven’t even turned on my Christmas playlists on iTunes. But that’s okay fine by me, as I escape the heat under the shade of the palm tree forest outside my hostel dorm’s door.
But, Christmas or no Christmas, it’s been five months since I left Toronto. So, as the end of the year approaches, I thought it would be a good opportunity to run through some highlights and lessons learned over these last few months.
In no particular order . . .
- Seeing big ticket items like the Great Wall of China, the Angkor complex, and the Taj Mahal
- Doing nothing for several weeks in Thailand, eating great food, and making new friends
- Watching women’s Olympic court volleyball in London
- Learning to drive a motorbike, and doing it on the left side of the road
- in the freezing cold waters of the Greenland Sea (or Denmark Strait, or Arctic Ocean, or north Atlantic Ocean, depending on the map)
- in the bathtub-warm Gulf of Thailand
- in the Andaman Sea and Arabian Sea portions of the Indian Ocean
- in the crazy mud bath cave in Yangshou, China
- Camping on the banks of the Ganges (but NOT swimming IN the Ganges)
- Eating real sweet & sour pork in China, amazing vegetarian food in India, and almost anything in Thailand
- Cows, cows, and more cows (in villages, cities, highways, train stations, beaches)
- Spending time with old friends in new places
- Making new friends along the way
Lessons Learned (sometimes the hard way)
- You need to practice starting and stopping a motorbike before you attempt a turn
- You shouldn’t chase lucky streaks in casinos in Asia (or anywhere else, I suppose)
- You shouldn’t use the tap water to brush your teeth in China (thankfully, I didn’t learn this firsthand)
- You need a fleece, thermals, and jeans if you’re going to camp in Rajasthan in the winter.
- Mixed hostel dorms are basically men’s dorms, and they are gross
- Non-AC hostel dorms in tropical areas are a bad idea
- I spend too much money in cheap countries because I don’t like to rough it
- Being a good packer makes your bag the heaviest on the planet
- If you prefer to go to bed around 10, you’re too old for ladies night at a Goan night club
- Chocolate in hot climates is waxy because of anti-melting agents
- Doritos in Singapore are exactly right
- Buying Milk Chocolate Hobnobs in a dusty shop in Varanasi is a bad idea
- When in doubt, buy a Snickers . . . it really satisfies no matter where you are
I’m not sure what the next 150 days will bring; I will be in India for another five weeks, and then I’ll make my way to Spain, by way of Dubai. Italy is also on the horizon, and perhaps Switzerland. And then, I’ll be completely bankrupt and will have to come home!
You’ll just have to wait and see.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!