Monthly Project Updates are a series I began to hold myself accountable for finishing the many projects I start, and to document the ups and downs I encounter along the way.
It’s 3:00 in the morning local time as I write this. Sleet is lashing at the windows, and even bundled in layers of sweaters I can still feel the chill. I’m back in New England, jetlagged, but ready to hit the ground running!
Since I spent most of March living out of a backpack or in transit between hotels, the goals I set for the month were different—less about sorting out my life, and more about living in the moment. I described in my last post some of the anxieties I had about “backpacking” through Asia, but they can be summarized as “What if something goes wrong???”
Well, stuff did go wrong. It’s travel. And that’s why my first goal for March was:
1. Embrace the chaos of travel, and stay calm when things don’t go as planned
I think I did fairly well staying calm through shifting itineraries, a last-minute hotel change, a misplaced bag, and a bout of severe food poisoning. However, I did lose my cool a few times, including the cave incident (described here), and when a restaurant that shall not be named refused to serve me something from the afternoon dessert menu for breakfast even though someone at the next table was eating it! (M will also claim that I became unreasonably angry when he didn’t immediately agree that my friend’s four-month-old daughter was an exceptionally cute baby. She is. I’m not going to post a picture, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!)
Speaking of pictures, my second goal was:
2. Take pictures to commemorate special moments on the journey
I often forget to take out my camera when I’m exploring new places, and I always end up kicking myself later. I’m lucky that M is obsessed with documenting our travels! While I took a fair number of pictures, I kept filling up the memory on my travel phone. As a result, some places are better documented than others. Here are a few highlights:
Our travel itinerary emerged from a compromise I made with M to make sure we both got something we wanted out of our honeymoon. My third goal, in essence, was:
3. Remember that M planned this trip because he loves me, and wants to see the world with me; not because he wants me to spend a month being stressed out and miserable
I’m a very independent person, and am not always good at putting my feelings aside to accommodate other people. I know that’s a problem I have, so I tried to plan this trip as collaboratively as possible. I tried to make sure we got to do and see things that were important to both of us, even if it meant I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at action figures in Akihabara, stop for egg coffee every five minutes in Vietnam, and switch up our itinerary at the last minute so M could visit Himeji Castle. (In M’s defense, I also dragged him off to a boring corner of southern Japan so I could have a reunion with some friends.) But here’s the thing: compromise means expanding your boundaries. Both of us got to see and experience things we never would have encountered without the other’s influence. Was I a little stressed out and miserable sometimes? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely.
That brings me to my next goal:
4. Actually enjoy the trip and all the amazing places I’ll get to see!
In spite of everything, I did enjoy the trip! It was eye-opening, breath-taking, and incredibly fun. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in over seven years, and go to places like Angkor Wat that I never thought I’d see in person. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of some strangers, disgusted by others who tried to scam us, and inspired by the diversity of human lives across the world. There were ups and downs, and it cost us much more money than we expected, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
Now for my final goal:
5. Maybe post some pictures here?
I had less computer and internet access for most of the trip than I’d expected, so I haven’t shared any of the pictures I took. (Unless you count the one used in my last post, and the ones above!) I’m not going to do a photo-dump, but a few pictures may pop up here and there over the next few months.
While my honeymoon with M was amazing, it feels wonderful to be home. We’ve both agreed that the trip was fun, but that we probably won’t take such a long, hectic trip again! Now that I’m home, I’m getting started on my job search, reconnecting with my piano, and slowly shifting out of vacation mode. Next month’s updates will be much more ordinary, and I have to admit that I’m looking forward to it!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from traveling? The biggest challenge you’ve overcome on your travels? Let me know in the comments!