As we approach 6 months of PigFish, we though we would take some time to reflect.
We have asked ourselves over and over whether we made the right decision by going on PigFish. And, each time, the answer comes back as a resounding yes. We do not regret doing this even a teeny tiny bit. While I would be lying if I said we have loved every minute of PigFish (anyone recall the bus ride from Cambodia to Vietnam?) or that we never miss the creature comforts of home (and our beloved pets) or that I didn’t mind not being at AJH with the girls when Chelsea won the trophy, we wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for anything. We have absolutely loved the first six months of PigFish.
We have asked ourselves if we would do anything differently if we could do it over. And, in all honesty, the only thing we think we would do differently is skip Malaysia. (Although then we never would have met the craziness that is Freddy or run into Sue and Ken for the second time or seen Georgetown).
We have also asked ourselves whether we should do anything differently over the next six months. We came up with the following:
- We need to break out of our comfort zone and meet more people. We have met several other travelers and meeting those people has been one of the highlights of our trip. We need to do more of that. Now, if we only knew a way to meet more people without staying at a hostel.
- We also need to get off the beaten tourist track a bit more. Some days, we feel like we have spent an entire day at [fill in a city]’s equivalent of Navy Pier. We wouldn’t do that in Chicago, so why do we do it on the road?
- We need to be a bit more spontaneous. We have flights booked to the UK and then to Argentina, but I’m really hoping we fly a bit more by the seat of our pants in South and Central America.
- While we are already pretty good at this, we need to eat in more local restaurants and skip the tourist places whenever possible.
We have been a little bit surprised at the question we seem to get the most frequently when people learn we are traveling for a year (well, after “what about your jobs”): that question is “how are you getting along?” I think people are shocked that we can spend 24-7 together and not fight. Yet we largely do spend 24-7 together. Robert went on two scuba trips without me and occasionally one of us will run an errand without the other (ok, ok, I generally ask Robert to run the errands…), but other than that, we are always together. And I’m happy to say we are getting along better than ever. (Although it was touch and go when I was stressed out about Sri Lanka).
There are a few realizations we have come to over the course of these six months.
- After six months of Asian food, coming back to American food is going to be hard. Very, very hard. Asian food uses so many herbs and spices and is so flavorful. And, we hope to never finish a Chicago-sized portion of anything ever again.
- After six months in the Asian heat, we are never going to be able to tolerate a Chicago winter ever again. Our blood has thinned.
- After six months in Asia, we will never complain about the mosquitos in the Midwest ever again….
- South East Asians just can’t queue. On the other hand, they fill water bottles right up to the tip-top.
- You will never convince us that children don’t notice skin color. Babies laugh at us. Small children stare at us.
- Travel is a different (and better) experience when you don’t buy souvenirs. Or spend any time shopping for them. It is also a different (and better) experience when you have the time to travel slowly and enjoy things.
- Certain cultural experiences are universal. I really wonder if there is a beach anywhere on this planet without a reggae bar and guys wearing dreads…
- We have been shocked by the complete arrogance of so many of our fellow tourists. In Thailand, we saw Australian backpackers who thought they could take up space at a bar and play cards without ordering a single thing. In Sri Lanka, we saw a Chinese tourist demand bug spray from a restaurant (they didn’t give her any). Everywhere, we have seen tourists be rude and fail to say please and thank you. Come on people, just be nice.
- We can never live someplace without decent wine and decent food. I can never live someplace where toilet paper cannot be flushed down the toilet. I can also never live someplace without decent pizza (or where Robert can buy the ingredients to cook a decent pizza). I think we have both been a bit shocked at just how frequently I’ve managed to order pizza. Robert would like to live someplace where he can wear the male equivalent of a skirt (like the men do in places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka). I’m not sure how I feel about that….
- We have been incredibly lucky on the health front. Other than nearly slicing off my toe, each of us getting an infected cut in our feet that required a doctor’s visit and antiobiotics and relatively minor bouts of food poisoning, we both have been incredibly healthy. And it isn’t because we are careful about what we eat. Because we eat the fruits, the veggies, and the ice cream. In fact, the only thing we are careful about is not drinking the local water (although I can’t even say that we are careful about ice…).
We both have changed quite a bit over the last 6 months. In some ways the change has been good, in other ways perhaps not so much.
- Neither one of can quite believe that Robert has shaved every single day. Seriously. Every. Single. Day. He never did that back in Chicago. I, on the other hand, shave my legs far less frequently than I did in Chicago. Even though I wear a skort pretty much every single day.
- Neither one of can quite believe how much our schedules have changed. We both sleep in far later than we used to. It is a rare day when we are up and out of bed before 8 am and getting up at 10 is not uncommon.
- I cannot believe how casual I have gotten about cleanliness. (Robert was always pretty casual on that front). Yep, I can honestly say I once wore the same t-shirt three days in a row. Seriously, when I’m going to be dripping with sweat the minute I walk out the door, do I really need to put on fresh clothes?? If it is dry in the morning and it doesn’t stink (thank the maker for Icebreaker…), it goes right back on.
- We are both a bit shocked about how easily we have fallen into more traditional gender roles. Robert tends to run the errands and deal with everyone. I tend to do the laundry. Ugh. But, in many countries it just works out better that way. For example, in Sri Lanka, nearly everyone we interacted with (hotel staff, restaurant staff, etc.) were men and they always addressed Robert. (Interestingly, on the rare occasions when we interacted with women, they addressed me).
And, finally, if anyone has any doubts that PigFish was the right decision for us, here is what we looked like right before PigFish started. Happy to be on our way, but pasty and puffy.
And here is what we look like now.
Even happier, not nearly so pasty (I’m about as tan as I get), and not nearly so puffy (although still a ways to go on that front).
We think we made the right decision…