Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Paris France: Things we’ll miss about being on the road

Will there be anything we miss about our time on the road? But of course!

10: Seeing cool animals. There’s nothing like seeing an animal in real life that you’ve only seen on TV or in books. And holding one, like a panda or koala, is really too cool.

9:Mastering the international language of Chinglish/Singlish/Franglais or any other variation of the local tongue and English. It often sounds like this: Me want to buy (point at object) how many yen/bhat/yuan/euro you take? Nihow, Konichiwa, Swadeeka, G’day, yeah I’m from the States, oh yeah AMERICA. No I didn’t vote for Bush, no Portland is not in California, Bye bye. We now know hello, goodbye and thank you in almost 20 languages.

8: Not being afraid. You would think it would feel scary in Cambodia or Egypt or China, but other than things like insane drivers, we haven’t felt as worried, afraid or stressed as we do in the U.S. From the nightly news, which talks about the weekly boogieman or random crime, to the doom and gloom from the experts expounding on NPR, we really do enjoy our bubble of ignorance that envelops us in the rest of the world.

7: Our togetherness. This is a big one. I think we will miss how comfortable we are together on a daily basis, all day, every day. I know some people say they would kill their spouse and kids if they were with them as much as we have been together, and we have wanted to kill each other many times, but there is a sense of togetherness that we have developed that we just can’t recreate in our normal life. There is also the sense of togetherness in a worldly way. While on the trip we’ve really felt part of the human race, and boundaries of nationalism have melted away. It’s like we’ve been having a huge comparative-culture class, and as we traipse across borders we’re seeing where China influences the rest of the world, where America does, and where borders mean everything and nothing. We’ve seen that everyone eats, albeit from different parts of the food chain, everyone spends a lot of time shopping, and we will miss those daily reminders that others in the world are just as complicated and just as shallow as we are.

6: Being awed. The US may have the Grand Canyon and the Lincoln Memorial, but staring at the Potala Palace, walking on the Great Wall of China, and clinging for your life on a spastic camel in front of the Giza Pyramids really can take your breath away, and we’ll miss those huge moments.

5: Being surprised. Once you reach a certain age, there is really very little that surprises you. Oh, perhaps the odd gift, or the occasional strange action may cause a moment’s pause. But entering a whole new country where men who dress in robes and turbans (who’ve you have been told to fear), extend to you the upmost kindness, or where Dylan looks out the car window and calmly states that an elephant is walking by, or where the quality and value of your life is measured not by how busy you are but by how open your calendar is (New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Australia) really start challenging your notions of what is possible. We’ll miss those small moments.

4: Cheap prices. At the expense of keeping the world economy in the status quo, where the poor stay poor and the rich drop their dollars like soiled kleenex, we will miss being able to get a massage for US$6 in China, a five star hotel for $100 in Malaysia, a plate of pad Thai in Thailand for 40 cents and a custom made suit for $50 in many places in the world.

3: Some amazing food. There’s nothing like getting the bread fresh from the boulangerie, or the pineapple fresh of the field in Asia, or the sushi fresh off the dock as it is in Japan. Or the spring rolls fresh from the wok in Vietnam, or the pad Thai from a vendor who’s just created it in front of your eyes. Yum!

2: Shopping! I don’t like to shop in the US because things are always so impersonal and sterile. But shopping in other places is fun. You’re either in a hut, or an outside market, or a tiny store, and the stuff to buy is really incredibly different. Then comes the haggling, conversations, and the thrill when you score something at a great price. Or the feeling that you’ve been duped, but what the hell, it’s a huge income for them, and a good story for us.

1: Walking into a new country. We soar (Abu Dhabi, UAE) or plod (Saigon, Vietnam) through immigration and passport control and exit the building into another country. The first moments of happiness, giddiness and adventure are coursing through our veins as we see India, Cambodia, Germany, or Japan for the first time and we know we are seriously hooked. We may not take another epic and long trip like this, but the high we get from seeing a new place ensures that we will be traveling again, and soon.


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