Since I left Louisville, KY, which is technically considered home for me, I have been to 6 countries and 8 different cities. I think the best way to describe my experience so far is the analogy, fried eggs and noodles. By comparing my experience so far to “fried eggs and noodles” I’m allowing it to not be the best thing I have experienced but also not the worst thing. For example, I spent 3 days in a hostel in Manila that was essentially in a residential area not near sights or food. These 3 days I really truly did nothing except for work on new designs. It was hard to get food so these three days all I had to eat was cup noodles that I got at a conviene store, and ice cream sandwich, clif bars, and cheese crackers. For me, nothing can really get worse than those three days where I was bored out of my mind with no where to explore since an uber/taxi into the city was $20 round trip.
Manila was also the one place I have been scared to walk around and it takes a lot for me to be scared/afraid. There were not a lot of tourists/westerners in the area I was staying in, the streets were extremely run down, and there were an excessive amount of creepy people. Along with this, the Philippines was the first country I went to that had a travel warning. Palawan, one of the many island areas of the country and a popular tourist destination, has a travel warning due to the kidnapping of tourists. Even more, while I was in Manila, there was the attack by the Islamic State in the southern portion of the country where IS took over the entire island of 200,000 plus people. To tell you the truth, I was scared. I look like an American most of the time, as much as I hate to admit it, and my accent gives away what part of the states I am from. So it is quite hard to hide who I am when in danger.
The thing about my “noodles and fried eggs” analogy is that it also exemplifies the best times I have had. In Langkawi, Malaysia I had some of the best four days of my life. The relaxed vibe of the island coupled with the people I met and the experiences I had will always be remembered. In fact, this is where the noodles and fried eggs analogy comes from. For three days in Langkawi, I literally had noodles and fried eggs for dinner and I must say it will be hard to top those noodles and fried eggs from the Ramadan Market.
In the effort to be as real as possible about my travels, I have also decided to include my motivation for writing this. As I sit at a cafe in Phnom Penh called Blue Pumpkin, I am reminded of how large and small the world is at the same time and how the smallest things truly will not matter in a few months. Right before I got to this cafe I found out someone had stolen $100 USD out of my wallet, cash that I was keeping with me in case I ran into visa trouble in Thailand since I will be cutting it extremely close to making it out of the country on time. At first, I was insanely pissed off about the fact that I left my wallet in my backpack and didn’t lock the door to the room I was in in my hostel. I was mean to the cleaning ladies and to the men constantly asking me if I need a tuk-tuk ride in the streets, even going so far as to shouting at one from the pent up anger that I had inside of me. As I have had time to cool down, eat, and reflect I realize where I am in this moment. I am in a poor country where the only real attraction is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat. I am in a country where the wages are extremely low compared to western standards. I am in a country where children don’t go to school so they can help provide for their families. I am in a country where the effects of the Khmer Rouge regime and the atrocities they committed in the 1970’s are still being seen today. I am in a primarily Buddhist country that believes in the process of karma. So for every time someone wrongs me or charges me more than they should or steals something of mine, all I can think now is “I hope they need it more than me”. I have full belief that these people that wronged me, such as the person who took my hair towel, the rickshaw drivers in Yangon, and the person who stole my $100, all somehow needed it more than me. Even more, I know that karma will come around to them in some form or way. It is all in the past now and instead of worrying about it, all I need to do is look towards the future and appreciate my current life.
I have also learned a great deal in the month that I have been away. I am learning how to budget and live without a true job. I have learned how to face my fears and how strong I truly am. I have learned that even while I am nearly 10,000 miles from all of my friends, that drama still goes on and people still find a way to involve me in it. I have learned how to make friends and how to deal with leaving friends. I have learned that you need to drink more than one bottle of water a day to not become dehydrated. I have learned that I am okay with being alone and that I truly do not care about other’s opinions about me. Most importantly, I have learned how to share my story so that others can see what I have seen.
All in all it has been one hell of a month and while there have been hard times, I could not be more excited about my upcoming month in Thailand, seeing my mum, and getting back to Australia.