As we embark on a new year, it is always nice to reflect back on the all the memories made (good and bad). In that same mindset you also learn to appreciate things you otherwise take for granted. While traveling is great, it also has made me appreciate things we take for granted in the U.S.A. and I have compiled a list below.
This list could be longer than this but I wanted to emphasize some of the bigger topics based on feedback and what we have seen consistently across borders. The stories my fellow remotes could tell you would blow your mind and definitely will be told at countless dinner parties in our near futures. Enjoy for now!
- Sidewalks – Pretty much non-existent in most countries (Morocco and Cambodia being the worst). Keep in mind the streets are already packed with scooters, motorcycles, taxi’s, tuk tuk’s, and bikes so there is not much room to navigate. We all have witnessed numerous people getting hit. If the sidewalks do exist you have to navigate dangerously around the following:
- scooters that take shortcuts on sidewalks
- parked cars
- people napping
- cats, dogs, & chickens
- trash bins
- sink holes
- old folks playing games
- kids playing soccer
- Late night noise ordinances: Laugh all you want. But nobody is laughing when you hear the latest K-Pop song until 4am or the local Uncle Joe singing horribly on karaoke all day & night. Some of us have odd working hours here in Asia so listening to music blasting all day is not ideal.
- Traffic lights – Where are they? Do we frogger across the street?
- Drunk driving laws – Lets just say I’ve seen my fair share of drunk scooter’s & Tuk Tuk’s not to mention I’ve definitely been in taxis where the drivers have had a little to many adult beverages.
- Food sanitary regulations – This sort of speaks for itself. While I didn’t get sick off street food, you learn to pick and choose wisely based on food prep and how exactly they are washing their cooking utensils (street water).
- Customer service – The waiters/waitresses might get paid better abroad but I have not been impressed with the general customer service. If an order gets screwed up abroad (or you wait an hour for your dish) don’t expect it to be comped as is usually custom in the states. Same goes for trying to flag a waiter down for a check, as we have wait sometimes close to an hour to pay after the meal was over.
- People who verify tickets on public transportation – So let’s just say when you pay extra for an air conditioned train car in the deserts of Morocco you expect to have the seat you paid for. Unless of course the locals are sitting in your seat and they claim to speak no English and so do the conductors. 3-hours in a non-AC train car is NOT FUN. Especially when you paid for it.
- Seat belts – Playing chicken with oncoming traffic is a common occurence. On my way to the Cambodian coast a few weekends ago, our driver came within inches of hitting a cow, had to swerve to avoid a dog (after honking at him for 10 seconds), and frequently was 30-40 mph over the speed limit. Now we ended up getting to the coast in record time but one missed swerve and my seatbelt-less body would have been flying through the rice fields of Cambodia!
- Not corrupt police forces – Almost every side trip we’ve done, our tour drivers or some of our fellow remotes have to had to bribe their way through the ‘safety check points’. If you don’t partake then they end up ticketing you for a random violation.
- Elevators – Have you carried a 25 kg bag up 8 flights of stairs? Then lets talk. Do it in 5 different countries? Then you are a champ! If elevators do exist then they are either tiny, have no doors, go very slow, or slam shut on you (all have happened).
2016 has been a good year to really appreciate the things you have or had. Traveling has truly opened my eyes to things I definitely took for granted in both my personal & professional life. I learned who true friends were and realized what qualities in a person I value more than anything. I look forward to maintaining old friendships, gaining new ones, continually testing my boundaries, and experiencing grand new adventures!
Here’s to a happy & positive 2017!! Please reach out if you want to chat about life, stories, adventures, or eating scorpions.
Happy New Year Everyone!