5 Things I Hate About Travel

No, no, no, no, no, I don’t hate travel. I love the guts out of travel. However, there most certainly are some things I hate about travel. Even the things we love aren’t peachy and rosy all the time.

Moving Between Point A and B

I just want to be at point B. Is that so terrible? I know some people get all googly-eyed over enjoying the journey. Blah, blah, blah. I like the destination. I don’t like carrying all my bags, haggling taxi prices, and sitting on sweaty buses for hours and hours and hours. Sometimes I reach a lovely zen place while sitting on buses or planes, where I think about abstract concepts and life in general. Most of the time though, I’m frazzled and sweating my face off.

How Much Cash Do I Budget For The Last Day in Country?

I usually either end up with too much money at the end of a trip or just barely enough to the point that I’m begging taxi drivers to take me to the airport. I still have $20 worth of Nepali rupees in my purse that I would really like to get in American dollars.

Hearing Generalizations About Americans

I can’t tell you how sick I get of hearing people say negative things about Americans, like I am supposed to either defend or apologize for my heritage. I really don’t care to hear what people think of Americans and I don’t appreciate being lumped in with some mass generalization.

Face Sweat

I may have just mentioned something about sweating my face off, but I have not gone into the extent of these sweat issues. Ninety per cent of the sweat I produce comes out of my face, which looks real great in those memorable photographs in front of memorable monuments and what not. Hot weather makes me hot and walking around in hot weather makes me sweat…out my face. Maybe I’m the only one with this issue, but it’s definitely a top 5 annoyance.

Getting Sick

Getting sick happens, it’s part of the experience, part of the story, and it’s still awful. Being up til all hours of the night with an array of stomach issues can wear one down. The stress of finding medicine in an unknown place of deciding if a doctor’s visit is in order is not my idea of a good time. Neither is crying in the middle of a train station in India because I feel like throwing up and want my mommy.

A Father’s Day Celebration

Yesterday marked the first holiday that I have been able to spend with my family in the States in the last two and a half years. We made the most of our time together with a feast of food, gift opening on the porch with a magnum of champaign, an impromptu photo shoot with flowers from the garden, bike riding and movie going. It sure is good to be home.

5 Best Places to Visit in India

I’ve been home from my two month India/Nepal trip for about three weeks now and the reminiscing is in full effect. There are so many places we stopped by and so many people we met. Here’s a list of the top 5 places in India my mind keeps drifting back to.

Udaipur

This is a fairytale city if I’ve ever seen one. I want to eat Indian food at cozy rooftop restaurants and watch the sun set over the lake every night for the rest of my life. If you know someone who invents a machine that could do this, let me know.

Goa

Sort of a wasteland of hippie travelers, but that’s what makes it fun. The beach is nice and the people are friendly. I have so many fun memories of sitting around with new friends and sipping lime sodas under the sun.

Mumbai

There is so much going on here. There’s great food options for the homesick traveler as well as the adventurous eater. Not to mention, you can work for Bollywood.

The Backwaters in Kerella

The way the rivers and canals flow through the landscape of these villages is beautiful. I loved disappearing into our village home stay, where I could swim in the river, walk through the rice fields and eat guavas from the trees.

The Taj

I’ll be honest, I hated Agra. The Taj, however, is worth the stop. I expected the site to be anticlimactic due to the thousands of photos I’ve seen of it in my lifetime. Sort of like being shocked by how small the Mona Lisa painting actually is. This didn’t happen. Screw anticlimactic, I was blown away. No photo I’ve seen has done the Taj justice. Nothing managed to capture how much it shines and how delicate it appears. It’s awesome.

The Road Home

I am now in America for the first time in 2 and a half years, well 29 months to be exact, but who’s counting? My Peace Corps service is complete and my days of traveling around India and Nepal are finished for now.

I’ve brushed my teeth with tap water, eaves dropped on conversations, flushed my toilet paper down the toilet and relearned how to drive a car. Mostly, I’ve been walking around in awe at how familiar and unfamiliar it all is.

The Journey Home Begins

Strikes in Nepal have been somewhat of a bi-weekly occurrence since we arrived. My entire time in Nepal I had a suspicion that there would be a strike the day I needed to go to the airport. And there was! So how does one get to the airport when no cars will drive on the street? By bicycle rickshaw, the world’s slowest method of transportation. Thankfully, we had given ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport. Pushing the rickshaw up hills would have been less enjoyable had we been panicked about catching our flight.

Flight #1 Nepal-India

Lesson learned: don’t illegally overstay your visa because Nepal is so awesome you don’t want to leave. The process of taking care of this really wasn’t so bad. It just cost a pretty penny.

After arriving in the Delhi airport we found ourselves with 12 hours to kill before catching our next flight. The airport wouldn’t allow us in the departures section until 5 hours before our flight, so we awkwardly hung around the arrivals terminal, playing cards, reading and musing about what America will be like.

Flight #2 Delhi to Chicago

14.5 hours of flight time on this one. The countless hours I have spent on Thai tour buses prepared me well for this leg of the trip. I spent a lot of the time amazed at how big the seats were and how much leg room I had.

Flight #3 Chicago to San Diego

Upon arriving in Chicago I discovered that my flight to Dallas had been cancelled. I waited in line for an hour to get my flights rerouted and was lucky enough to find an option that got me in only two hours later than my previous arrival time. The flight cancelation didn’t phase me too much. People in line with me were frantically using cell phones and the f-word, while I kind of just stood there and zoned out. Turns out I’m quite docile after 28 hours of travel.

At the airport I bought myself some welcome to America treats I’d been longing for: a Vogue magazine, a new crossword puzzle book and a soy latte. Bliss. Turns out I had already done a lot of the crosswords in the puzzle book. I started to actually worry that I will soon complete all the New York Times crosswords. I don’t even want to think about what I would do with myself if that day ever came.

My new flight to San Diego was absolutely packed with people and the airline offered a $500 travel voucher to people willing to go on a later flight. The things I could do with a $500 travel voucher! I was willing, but was told that my flight to Portland was booked and I should stay on this one. Then I offered to stay overnight in Chicago and fly out the next day. I’d been dying to see Chicago anyway. I was given the nod and then at the last minute someone whose final destination was San Diego offered to go on a later flight. That punk snatched my $500 travel voucher out from under me!

Flight #4 San Diego to Portland

This is where it all gets very fuzzy and sleepy. The only thing I remember is sitting next to an old woman and doing crosswords in our respective books. I felt like we had an unspoken bond.

Arrival!

I made it into Portland earlier than expected, which means I had to ask the help desk if I could borrow the phone so my family could come pick me up. My dad was not happy that his plan to pick me up at the gate with balloons had been thwarted.

The First Meal

My parents asked where I would like to go for dinner and I immediately replied “Andina!” I’d been thinking about this moment for a very, very long time. So we went, and we ate the yummy novo peruvian food and drank infused cocktails. And after we stopped by Cupcake Jones where I had a peanut butter cupcake that made me very much appreciate being back home again.

What About Nepal?

Yes, I went to Nepal. No, I haven’t written about it yet. But I will. Very soon.

5 Things That Are So Hot Right Now ~ Friday Five

This Friday Five: “5 Things That Are So Hot Right Now” well, at least in the world of Kelsi.

Forever Young Adult blog. It’s like I died and went to young adult lit heaven where everyone drinks cocktails, watches Pretty Little Liars and reads young adult lit sans paper bag covers. I’m crushin’ big time here.

Bowners. Read The Man Repeller. It will make more sense. And change your life in an “I use fashion as a means to terrify the opposite sex express myself” sort of way.

FoodGawker. Because I like to look at pictures of food and drool unabashedly in public or private places.

Having almost as many Twitter followers as Facebook friends, or as I like to tell people, almost as many internet friends as real friends. Soon enough, I will have more internet friends than real friends, and that’s just the way the world was meant to be.

The fact that I am now an RPCV! That’s right folks, as of today I have completed my Peace Corps service. Time to hang up my volunteer hat and put on a new one with lots of feathers in it that says I’m a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and I have lots of interesting life experiences, so hire me now!

3 Crappy Mornings 1 Lame Update

I wish I were writing a lovely update about how much fun I am having in Bangkok and how this last week in the Peace Corps has been so amazing, but this is not one of those updates. The last three mornings have started off with tears and have gotten progressively suckier as they go on.

Monday Morning

This was the morning I said goodbye to my school and friends and site and stepped on a bus to Bangkok. Tears this morning were expected and flowed freely.

Tuesday Morning

After a night of hanging out with friends and a day of activities ahead I woke up cheerful and excited for the day ahead. When I checked my email I realized that the airline had yet to send me a confirmation email for the flight I had booked for Friday. I had noticed this earlier in the week, but following up was put on the back burner due to stress from moving and saying goodbyes.

I thought checking the flight info would be as easy as logging onto the website and entering my passport number. But no. I needed my reservation code, which I forgot to write down or I needed to log into my account, which I hadn’t done when I booked so there was no record of my flight. So, I am unsure if I do indeed have a flight book for Friday. Awesome. Cue tear swelling eyeballs.

Then I get an email from work and find out that something I thought had been taken care of in January needs to get done this week. My last week here. Cue head banging against my desk.

So I did everything I could to take care of these issues and went on with my day. It turned out to be a great day with friends, but ended with more goodbyes, which was not as fun.

Wednesday Morning

Once again, I woke up in a good mood, ready to get some things done, completely unprepared for the stressful events headed my way. I checked some emails. Even started researching a possible trip to Hong Kong. I started to book a room in India for the first leg of my India trip. Couldn’t find my debit card. Meaning I left my debit card in the ATM yesterday. (Mini rant: banks in Thailand give you your money before they give you your ATM card. Why would you do this???? People lose their cards all the time.)

I admit, I’ve left my debit card in an ATM in Thailand before, but it was always the card for my Thai bank account, so that was easy to take care of. This time it’s my US bank account. Did I mention I’m supposed to fly to India on the 27th? Yeah. I called the bank that owns the ATM and they won’t open the ATM because of an agreement between banks.

It’s after hours in America now, so all I was able to do is cancel my card, which is something. Now I have to wait til the bank opens so I can call and beg and plead them to rush deliver my card to Thailand. Luckily, I have an address in Bangkok they can send it to. Luckily, I realized I had lost my card before I spent all my cash. Unluckily, I absolutely need this card by the 26th.

Last time I had an issue with my card while traveling (some jerk in Rome stole my card information and made over $700 of withdrawls in Milan) my bank was really helpful. I’m hoping for this same service again.

Current Status

Still not sure if my flight for Friday is booked. Still not sure how I will get a new bank card.

Hugs are much appriciated right now.

I’m off to see if I can find where I left my head.

Din Tries Pizza and Doesn’t Barf!

There are so many foods that I think are delicious but my host family hates and vice versa. My love of oatmeal is not appreciated by anyone else and my host mom’s love of fermented fish makes me gag. Remember when I made Christmas cookies? Yeah, no one liked them. And they were ridiculed by the principle. Poor cookies. So when someone expresses interest in trying American food I laugh because most of the time they hate it.

Well this evening my host family and I went out to dinner at a fancy pants restaurant in the capital. I’ll back this train up and say that this was a completely random dinner. One minute I was lounging around the house in my village finest (oversized cartoon shorts and a giant T-shirt) and the next minute a car is pulling out of the driveway and I am rushing to pull myself together before we go out to eat.

This is the first time I have ever eaten foreign food with my host family aside from an afternoon of experimental sandwich making at the house. We ended up at a foreign restaurant where my host dad immediately started chatting with the first white people he saw and I hid at a table in the corner with my host mom and brother to pick out our orders.

We chose pizza and spaghetti. Note to the world: Din, my seven year old host brother, has never tried either of these things. I recently read a story about a kid who tried a cheeseburger for the first time and barfed all over the place. Cheese is not so popular for the unaccustomed palate I guess. I figured Din would hate both dishes.

My spaghetti comes and I convince Din to try a bite. The kid doesn’t like food. He hardly ever eats. But he loves the spaghetti, like “Mom, order me a plate of that” loves it! Then the pizza comes, he tastes and likes that too. Success…and no one barfed!

After dinner my host mom told Jip, another host brother, that I’m going to America soon and need lots of hugs.

Can I bring him home with me? I really need to find me a Thai baby to keep around in the States.