Well, we’re a little older, a little wiser perhaps, and definitely a little more sarcastic. This happens when you travel. We hit Dublin, London, and Paris with a succession of shocking realizations as to just how short our Chinese paychecks would take us, even with youth discounts. Wow. Europe is expensive.
After careful reconsideration, we decided to cut Greece and Italy out of our itinerary and instead headed south towards Spain where you can see an entire cross section of the country for far less money than it costs to spend an even mildly fun week in Ireland. To keep it cheap you do, of course, have to walk.
We found the Camino de Santiago (an ancient pilgrimage turned popular walk) by chance and made up our minds to do it about a week before we began. We walked from the quaint French Pyrenees town of St. Jean Pied de Port to Finisterra, a small town on the Spanish coast. Around 500 miles in about 30 days.
That was a weird thing to do.
You have a lot of time to think when all you’re doing is walking everyday. This allowed us to dwell on mistakes – for instance, the fact that we took our limited savings to Western Europe and expected to enjoy it, while also intending to continue living income-less for the remainder of the year.
When we reached the end of the Camino it was pouring rain. In a bar at the spot our small-minded ancestors once thought was the end of the earth, we sat with a middle aged German stranger. She told us of her recent divorce. We downed some whiskey and decided to head-butt fate. We said goodbye, darted into the downpour, stuck out our thumbs and hopped into the first car that passed. Back to town and hastened to find the quickest, cheapest route back to Asia.
We landed in Cairo around midnight and listened to our driver talk about his mistress, how one wife is enough but how adultery is ok for him because some men have many wives. He pointed out mosques, markets, the president’s house and then told us about his children.
The door to the building we were staying in stayed open to the busy downtown street all night. As we entered a bum sat eating schwarma, dripping sauce over the cardboard floor mats. Our room had no windows, footprints high up on the walls and numerous cockroaches. Finally, we were uncomfortable; it felt like we were home.
After taking in the classic sites, friendly Arab culture and mediocre food, we continued onwards to Thailand. Following two weeks in Egypt, Bangkok was bland. The writing was less squiggly, dress codes were less strict, and there were foreigners recognizable everywhere. One even tried to steal our money out of a pocket. In a word, Bangkok was too normal. Something had to be done.
We headed north to the small town of Pai where we stayed in one place for more than three nights for the first time in more than two months. There we made a bungalow at the peaceful Ing Doi Guesthouse our home and got to work on a plan to re-center our perspective.
We figured our best bet would be a full do over, an outlook rezero, a reframing of reference. And can you think of a better place to straighten out your point of view than Alaska in the wintertime? What place is known better for frozen, unworldly, long clear views? We’ll answer for you: None.
You’ll be hearing from us again soon.
This Ridiculous World