Tag Archives: solo female travel

Back again.

View from Monkey

Cambodia, always Cambodia

Ferry legs

Cambodia

My darling Jess

The best roommate ever, Cambodia

On the way to the other side

Cambodia

Dave's field

Cambodia

Sri Lanka train

From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy, Sri Lanka

Indian street food

On the way to Varanasi, India

Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal

Fields of Maji

The Himalayas, Nepal

So it’s been more than a year since I wrote here. Shit went down, big time. In good ways and bad ways. My last post alluded to me going to stay in a homestay in the middle of nowhere, and it ended up being exactly the adventure I’d set out to find on my trip.

I lived on an island off the coast of Cambodia for four months. A year ago today, I was there, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I learned a lot and fucked up along the way, but had one of the best summers of my life. I learned that, well, island paradise life isn’t for everyone…but it’s ok to live it and enjoy it for awhile.

I left, a heart heavy and pretty lost, and went to Sri Lanka with a dear friend. And then India, which I hated. And loved. But mostly hated. And then onwards to Nepal, a place I’d dreamed of for years and really, it wasn’t quite what I expected (but of course, that’s how it always goes). Then I met a boy in the Himalayas. Despite us both thinking it would just be a holiday fling, and that we’d be fine saying goodbye as good travel partners and a little something more at the end, we both eventually ended up deciding to be more than that. I never do things the easy way.

Problem is, he’s got two passports and neither of them are the same as mine.

So I’m headed to London in the fall and we’re going to see how things turn out. You know those couples you meet on the road, who are both travellers and met somewhere along the way? You never know if they’ll work out once the show is all over, once someone has to go back home or onto the next continent, but somehow we’ve been making this thing work for awhile now. And I’ve learned more about negotiation, communication, emotional honesty, and myself than I ever did travelling alone. It’s the most challenging, exciting, and adventurous thing I’ve ever done, and he’s a really good travel partner to boot.

I’ve been back in the States for 8 months now, trying to figure it all out and saving up for the next adventure, and to be honest…it’s been a totally shit year so far, excepting a few highlights. Being 4600 miles away from my guy certainly hasn’t made it easy, even though he came and visited for Mardi Gras and we went to Memphis and Chicago and decided we were actually dating. I’ve loved seeing friends from home, dear friends that I truly missed. And my relationship with my family is the best that it’s ever been, which has been eye-opening.

And I’ve realized that a life of never-ending travel isn’t the road for me. I want to freedom and the money to come back and visit when I feel so homesick that seeing American flags makes me want to cry. National holidays mean so much more to me than I ever realized and I don’t want to miss that kind of stuff, miss weddings and birthdays and everyone’s life.

I’m going to have to figure out the path that I’ll take now. I’ve been struggling with this for awhile while I’ve been waiting tables and – well – feeling like a loser doing so. Pretty much the only thing that’s made me feel better has been friends here, and friends who’ve always been there for me. I have to begin a different journey now. Is it going to be a home base in London (UK visas why you hate me)? In Berlin? In New York City? I have no idea. I know things that I really want to do, and have always dreamed of doing, but they aren’t paths that allow for much travelling, or at least the kind of travelling I live to do.

Hopefully in a month I’ll start posting some happier stuff when I’m back on the road again. Seattle first, then Iceland (!!!) for a few days, then London for…? Maybe some stops around Europe as well.

I still have oodles of stories that need to be chronicled somewhere so I’ll try my best to write them down. The Fellowship and how I still miss them and think of them every single day, the Darjeeling toy train, the Himalayas, international, trans-continental relationships, Jaffna, wanting desperately to go to Malaysia, wanting to go back to school, not going on a Great West American road trip (what the fuck was I thinking), never really knowing if people I work with believe my stories, BANGKOK. So many stories to tell.

Advertisements

To Russia, with love

Cheap champagne

To Russia

Mockba

The arch

They look familiar...

Metro tiles

St Basil's Cathedral

Moscow peek

Moscow, Russia

I am sure I’ll be writing much, much more about the Trans-Siberian train, but I’ll try to start catching up with everything that’s happened on my journey so far. This is a lot to catch up on, so I think I’ll split it into several parts over a few days while I attempt to get to Beijing and meet my dear Mandi…by the way, I’m currently in Ulaanbaatar after a 5-day train from Moscow, an 8-hour marshrutka ride from Irkutsk around Lake Baikal, and a 13-hour bus from Ulan-Ude; 1 very pathetic attempted mugging (don’t worry, they weren’t successful); and 5 slips on ice.

I am pretty sure that UB is the anti-Mongolia, as it totally sucks here. (And everyone I’ve talked to who’s been to Mongolia says the countryside is amazing.) I’m excited to be leaving tomorrow. I’ll be totally honest: so far, my trip has been nothing like what I expected. It’s been a lot lonelier than I thought – so far, I’ve met a grand total of 7 other travellers, only 4 who actually wanted to chat – and in general, a lot harder than travels in Europe. You can know something in your head, but when you’re lost for four hours, in the snow, in a city that you don’t know, and you can’t ask a single person for directions and have them understand what it is you’re looking for, well, it’s absolutely exhausting. And only having about 5-6 hours of daylight blows. Since I’m a solo female travelling, I really don’t want to risk being out at night by myself. (Which really sucks because I am a total night owl.) Also, I have not had a single bit of alcohol for much the same reason. It’s not like I’m an alcoholic or anything, but I do like beer. However, it’s depressing to drink by yourself. It is nice to be paying for one bed in a hostel dorm and getting the whole room to myself, though. And the people who’ve helped me along the way have been amazing. I think that part of the reason they are so helpful is because I’m a girl by myself (and they all say I’m crazy). Overall, though, it’s very empowering to know that I’ve gotten this far! Parts of the trip have been really fun. My next post will reveal some fun details.

Soundtrack for the rest of this post (the not depressing part!): To Russia, my homeland & Transatlantique.

The flight to Russia was a good introduction to the country. Leaving from NYC, we were delayed inexplicably for about 4 hours, then sat on the runway for another 2 hours once boarding. At least they gave me a voucher for refreshments due to the delay. Also, the in-flight services included one glass of cheap champagne and one glass of cheap red wine, so I was appeased. Transaero proved to be pretty legit, despite not being able to change my ticket at all once it was purchased since my origin was the US (not Russia). I’m pretty sure it was due to the New Year’s holidays, but there were about 30 people on a Boeing 777-200, so we each could take five rows to ourselves. Boss. Flew over Iceland but it was late at night and did not get to see anything interesting. And there was applause from the other passengers when we landed. Hmmm.

Next, Moscow. I already did a post about the metro, but unfortunately didn’t get photos of the metro station with stained glass windows (pretty sure it was Novoslobodskaya, but I only saw it on my way to Yaroslavsky for the Trans-Siberian). Curses!

Couchsurfing, once again, proved to be completely invaluable. In Moscow, I was taken in by Genrikh & Victoria, an absolutely wonderful couple who were the very definition of hospitality for a weary traveller. Genrikh was particularly delighted to speak with a native English speaker – something I haven’t heard very often in my life – and cooked me absolutely delicious food, took me on a walking tour all over Moscow, and we discussed life, Georgia (the country, not the state), and our plans for the future. Moscow is a very beautiful city, particularly around the river…the view from near the Vorob’evy hills at night time across the river is as gorgeous as any view in Venice. (Only super blurry photos of this, sorry y’all.)

Every time I feel myself thinking pessimistic and cynical thoughts about humanity, I think about the best of my couchsurfing experiences and I just can’t hold onto them. Moscow was highly enjoyable through the lens of my couchsurfing experience, and I’ll do another post on it later. However, having gone to Russia to experience proper snow, I can safely say that I think I’ve experienced it as much as I need to.

After Moscow, with a lovely farewell from Genrikh – “Enjoy your road.” – it was time to board the train to Siberia.