I was nine when I first came to know that near-penniless youth could “backpack” around Europe. I had spent many weeks carefully studying the souvenirs placed around my best friend’s house–a ceramic Lock Ness Monster, a German beer stein, an English flag, and a French travel poster–before her parents noticed and explained that they had “picked them up” in Europe. I listened in awe as they casually mentioned traveling around foreign countries with Eurail Passes and backpacks. My lust for travel was cinched with their romantic story of sleeping on a haystack under the stars only to be awoken by the sound of cow bells.
In Paris: post-snubbing, pre-hostel search
Ten years later I found a like-minded friend and bought cheap airfare to Europe. We did not sleep in haystacks, but in youth hostels where we ran into the backpacking subculture. As we whizzed around Europe, we hit a swift series of backpacker must-dos: snubbed by a Frenchman, nearly had our passports stolen while topless sunbathing on the Mediterranean, lived on baked goods, found a cigarette butt in our set-lunch lasagna, carefully spent down our cash money before crossing pre-Euro boarders, panicked when a surprise bank holiday left us cashless, and sought out McDonald’s for the use of their clean bathrooms.
During that whirlwind trip, I kept leafing through our 1995 Berkeley Guide to Europe, looking at the tantalizing sections on Turkey and Morocco. Both places that seemed so exotic and on the very fringes of where I thought it was safely possible travel.
“Cheena Peak,” Nani Tal, India: post-exasperation, pre-horid illness
Several weeks after returning I met my now husband and started daydreaming about going further. Sometime later we set off for India and Nepal. And, as is requisite if one travels on the cheap in the Sub-Continent, we were challenged physically, mentally and emotionally on a daily basis and fell seriously ill several times. In pre-internet days, we called our folks in America using an “STD” international phone both and quickly told them we had malaria while watching to red-digit Rupee price swiftly tick higher.
We’ve only been going further and longer since. Our current “extended trip” of sorts has lasted seven years.
And so, many years later, I can point to my best friend’s parents and say that they were the ones who inspired my interest in travel and “exotic” places. Thank you Mark and Susan, wherever you are today.
I was inspired to write this post by Kristen at Expatially Mexico who nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award several weeks back. Thanks very much Kristen and I hope you are thoroughly enjoying your holiday in Chiapas.
In recent weeks, I have been inspired by the following bloggers:
Hong Kong (& Macau) Stuff, Blue Balu, and Zhongguo Jumble have all inspired me to get out and explore more. My settling-in period here in Hong Kong is over and the temperatures are on the brink of dropping off: time to hit the streets.
Lonely Girl Travels wrote a post on her complete medical check-up in Bangkok that, in addition to being hilarious, also inspired me to be more creative and detail-oriented when writing my own posts. Stupid Ugly Foreigner has also inspired me to up my writing game. See especially his very relatable post, Travel Partners, or, the Gentle Hate Cycle.
Finally, Building My Bento has inspired me to inspect or buy all kinds of oddly packaged Asian food products and has even tempted me to visit the infamous Chungking Mansions (as of yet on the “to do” list, as I’m intimidated as hell).
To all of you: thanks for the inspiration. If you’re keen on “pass it on” awards feel free to join in, otherwise, just know that you’re appreciated.