Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interview with a Vampire

We're in transit in Seoul and I feel like a vampire -- up all night with no sleep, cursing the big windows and light, skin and lips in bizarre coloration from duty free make-up sampling and no friggin' idea of what time it is anywhere the world, let alone my body.

Andy and I are trying to get adjusted quickly to Pacific Daylight Time so we can enjoy my parents and Andy's parents who greet us in Portland. We have nine hours to kill here in Seoul before connecting on to America. Eating fun stuff won't fill the hours as the options here involve a lot of Korean barbeque and meat or KFC and Dunkin' Donuts, and the shopping is out of my budget and league with its expensive, fixed pricing after cheap baht-bartering in southeast asia! Luckily, fancy (northeast) Asian airports like Incheon believe in free internet! Alas, in my sleep-deprived-delirium-cum-green-tea-induced-buzz, I conducted an interview with myself as a way to write about some last feelings.

How do I feel about coming home?~> read more


Great. Excited. Ready. Anxious. Slightly sad, but almost in more of an intellectual way -- we know it will be a long, long time before we have a prolonged adventure like this -- rather than an emotional one. Everything worked out so perfectly on the trip and we have no regrets, so it's hard to feel genuinely sad. I feel complete and kind of free. This dream has been fulfilled in living, breathing, spicy, savory color and now it's time to create new dreams. Though the cab ride to Bangkok airport was weird last night. Andy and I were happy and full from an elegant afternoon tea at the Oriental, yet stressed from trying to catch up the blog, and it just didn't seem real it was the last cab ride we'd take to Don Muang Airport. Bangkok was definitely our home on this trip as we visited the city 9 times during 7 1/2 months! We made the drive to the airport so many times, headed off to so many places that it just didn't register we were heading off for home. But, we didn't feel regret either, so I think that's the perfect thing to be able to say.

What have I missed the most?

Mitten!!! The ability to call friends and family whenever I want. Balsamic vinegar. NPR. A kitchen to call my own. Laptop and internet access whenever I want it. (Pathetic, I know...but c'est la vie.) Not sweating on my upper lip. Farmers markets that don't make me dry heave. Dry feet. Not needing to make numerous decisions each day (what to see, where to eat, how to get there...). Walking down a street in total anonymity. Table cream for tea. Clothes that make me feel, and I suppose look, like me instead of sporty, practical, can sweat to death in, travel stuff.

Did I ever lose the edge on traveling?

There were a few moments in Myanmar when I felt my patience and ability to revel in the moment waning. I don't think it was a function of the country, but instead a function of the hard travel. The lack of electricity and merciless heat sucked, plus I am totally over forced bare feet in public places! Both Andy and I were less receptive to sales pitches and more depressed by people who wanted to scam us for a few kyat. We knew then that we were getting tired of traveling. Of being travelers and backpackers and needing to make a ton of decisions every day. Of always being the other. And we could tell in Bagan as we stood and stared at what are some very beautiful temples with less than the expected glee that our brains are close to full. One can only absorb so many new people, places, cultures, smells, food, etc without getting worn down and desensitized.

245 days is a long time -- does it feel like it?

No. It feels like time froze the moment we left in December because people, places, jobs, pets, life as we've known it have been so far removed from us. It's like Andy and I levitated above the calendar year living in this vacuum of travel, experiences and faraway places. Yet I know tons of things have happened and I know I'm disconnected from people and things I love. It even seems like even the world has changed. I suppose we've probably changed too but it's not clear to me how that manifests in our lives. I'm not sure what type of transition is ahead, especially since Andy and I have an exciting, mysterious, scary new chapter to write in our lives, but I think I may feel a bit behind until we get settled with jobs and a location.

So, no determination of where to live yet? Even after all of this time?

No. Unfortunately. The realities of careers, geography and lifestyle became very abstract and forgettable while we traveled. Not that we wanted to forget them, but just because we were so far removed from regular routines that processing our perfect, future life was impossible. We thought and over-thought and thought some more, and then my dad suggested that we stop worrying, enjoy the trip, come back and research our options in person. And that made sense. Especially because doing research and crunching numbers over here in loud, smoky, slow internet cafes nearly killed us. Alas, we touch down tonight with our minds and options open and it's exciting!

What are my favorite memories from Extravagasia?

It's hard to say, and I won't say because Andy and I are working independently on our personal "hot lists" of favorites from the trip. An excellent project when you have over 20 hours in the air and close to 35 hours of total travel time. Ugh! We'll post them upon return in Portland. Anyway, categories include favorite city, favorite experiences, most over-rated, most emotional, best things seen while riding on a motorbike, moments when I thought "this does not suck!", and others. Stay tuned!!!


Blogger jskalet said...

wow! what an incredible finale synopsis of a fabulous experience, we can't wait to see you!! john/dad

10:36 AM  

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