I’m currently sat in my hostel in Bangkok, waiting to head to the airport for my flight home. Yep, that’s it, the year away is nearly over.
In an attempt to cheer myself up and stop me from slashing my wrists, I thought I’d remind myself of all the things I really won’t miss about travelling.
1. Premiership Football
Who’d have thought it would be easier to escape English football in England than it is when travelling? Whether you’re up a mountain in Peru, in a shanty town in Colombia, or a fishing village in East Timor, you guarantee that the one thing every local you meet knows about England is the Premiership. And they all want to talk about it when they find out where you’re from. Even if the only English words they know are ‘Manchester’ and ‘Rooney’. It’s not just the locals – every backpacker is just as obsessed (even the Americans – apparently all the ones who travel seem to like soccer). And it’s impossible to go for a drink, whether in a local dive or a backpacker bar, without seeing games. I can’t wait to get home so I can get back to ignoring it all. (an honourable exception to this one is Singapore – the huge number of privately educated British & Aussie expats meant I was forced to talk about rugby instead).
2. Early mornings
Every time I want to do anything – Whether it’s catching a bus or going sightseeing somewhere (‘oh, you simply MUST see it at sunrise’) – it always seems to involve a stupidly early start. Even when I’m not doing anything, you can guarantee that someone else in the dorm will be, and they will insist on having the world’s loudest alarm, turn on all the lights, and decide they have to rummage around in lots of plastic bags before heading out. Seriously, I’ve had more early starts in the last 12 months than I have in the last 12 years of working.
One particular cause of interrupted sleep that deserves special mention is roosters. If it was up to me, I’d slaughter the lot of them. And take great pleasure in wringing their necks myself.
4. Night buses
They may be quite handy for covering long distances whilst saving money on a hostel, but no-one in their right mind would choose to sleep on a bus being driven by a suicidal driver along bumpy roads in preference to a bed.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hot weather. So much so that the English weather is the thing I’m dreading most, even more than working again. It’s fine too when you’re a few steps away from the sea, or doing nothing more energetic than drinking a cold beer. But the rest of the time, wandering round with sweat dripping off your forehead and down your back is really unpleasant. And probably even more so for others around me. A tip for any wannabe travellers heading to the tropics: don’t pack lots of grey t-shirts. I’ve learnt the hard way that they show up sweat patches far better than any other colour.
I never realised how lucky I was that the worst I have to contend with at home is the odd spider in the bathtub. Because there are bugs EVERYWHERE in the tropics. Trying to get in your food, in dorms, crawling all over your arms and legs, biting you, generally being very annoying indeed. The malaria risk makes it even worse, as this necessitates the use of DEET, which is akin to volunteering to smear toxic waste all over yourself.
7. Cold showers
I don’t care how hot outside it is. I’m a big girl and the shock of getting into an ice-cold shower is just too much to bear. Especially when it’s EVERY DAY.
8. Living out of a bag (and lugging it around)
Constantly packing and unpacking (and trying to squeeze everything in – which seems to get harder every day). Getting bored of the same clothes every day. Having stiff shoulders from wearing it too much (especially when I’m travelling on my own and can’t leave it anywhere for even 5 seconds). I am so over it.
9. The same conversation every day
Where do you come from? Whereabouts in England? How long have you been travelling for? Where have you just come from? How long will you be here? Where are you going next? What’s your favourite country? and so on and so on. I’m sure all backpackers are as bored rigid with it as I am, and we’re all just as guilty as each other as I find myself asking the same old questions every time myself. So hats off the group I met in Colombia who wouldn’t give answers to any other opening questions than ‘what’s your favourite Michael Jackson song?’.
Put down the bongos. Take off those ridiculous clothes. And have a bath. It’s 2010 for god’s sake. There really is no excuse.
Anything I’ve missed there?
(oh, and normal service will be resumed shortly, I’m about a month behind but still to come are tales of awful bus journeys in Burma, getting seriously templed out in Bagan and Angkor Wat, and saving the very best of the trip til last in Cambodia). Stay tuned.