Travelling Thoughts

I think it is widely accepted that international travel, especially for an extended period of time, has the tendency to change people, even if in only small ways.  Obviously, one of the reasons for this is that you witness the way other people live and have the opportunity to compare many differences in lifestyle to your own.  Intrinsic to this comparison, is a greater appreciation for many of the comforts of home.  While I have undoubtedly gained a deeper understanding, appreciation and respect for the Chinese culture, travelling for an extended period of time in this Asian society has made me miss and appreciate some things from home more than others.

Apart from the obvious things like missing my dogs (and I could go on and on about the specific things I miss about each one of them, but i will spare you this whining and instead discuss at length with Raj), and chatting with my mom and dad without worrying about the connection, and working out with Amber, and being able to call my grandparents without worrying about the time difference, and my bed and pillows… you know – all the things anyone misses, here are some of the specific things that I’ve been thinking about:

  • I miss Western etiquette.  This one is tricky to discuss because I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like diversity or appreciate different cultures, but certain things must be stated:  when a plane lands, it won’t kill you to let people file out of the plane according to where they sit- pushing your way to the front will really not save you that much time, especially when nearly everyone else is doing the same thing.  Also, and this one is the worst, Chinese people tend to clear the phlegm from their throats and spit it out anywhere and everywhere and it is simply disgusting.
  • I miss and appreciate non-smoking restaurants and hotel rooms.  Our favorite moment illustrating this was our first hotel in China where we had booked a non-smoking room. When we entered the room, it smelled a bit funny – not really smoky but more like how it would smell if they were covering it up.  Then we noticed there were two ashtrays in the room, so we called the front desk and said we had requested a nonsmoking room and the response was that we did have a nonsmoking room  We replied that there were ashtrays in the room and there was a bit of a language barrier but their response was that if we wanted ashtrays (in our nonsmoking room) all we had to do was call housekeeping.  (sigh)
  • I miss shopping and cooking for myself. I miss salads and hummus and veggie burgers. I miss Trader Joe’s and Costco.
  • I miss Sunday brunch with the Ramga’s after a Saturday night shaking our booties.
  • I appreciate Western toilets and their being toilet paper in stalls.  Although I’ve gotten rather good at squatting and quickly learned to always carry my own toilet paper, I must say that after a week in Tibet, I will even appreciate dirty gas station bathrooms in the future.
  • I miss being able to dress up – at this point I always feel grubby in my travel clothes – really looking forward to shopping in London – like as soon as we get off the plane!
  • I miss and appreciate having my own washing machine!  It’s bad enough having to wear the same clothes over and over again, but either washing them in hotel sinks or finding a laundry mat that seems to always get the stink out but also adds stains is getting really old.  Other than my bathing suit and sundress, I don’t expect to keep one article of clothing that I brought with me.
  • I miss driving and understanding the rules of the road.
  • I miss being able to listen to music and sing along – always using headphones with iPod sort of prevents this.
  • I appreciate free press – the news and information in general is censored in China and it’s very frustrating when you know its happening.

Despite these things, with only 3 weeks left of our trip, I feel a renewed sense of adventure and excitement over our trip. I don’t feel as homesick as I had been feeling for a few weeks and am finding it easier to live in the moment. ironically, Raj seems to being feeling homesick for the first time, which actually just makes me happy because I finally know that we feel the same way and are in it together.  We are heading to a beach in Vietnam which makes it feel more like a relaxing vacation and I am super excited to veg-out, read my book and get a tan!  A couple days of down time will be great to make sure we are re-charged for Cambodia, Thailand, London and of course, for coming home! 

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3 thoughts on “Travelling Thoughts

  1. You just need your Mom, Dad & your frtends. Four months is a long time to be away from home and the lifestyle you are used to. Love.
    Dipali Mum

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  2. I especially like your post this time Tovah, as it actually makes one think of all the things we have and why we should appreciate them. Dont worry little sis…. there will be plenty of salads, veges and humus when you get here…. it may not be like back home in the states,and you wont have your own pillow and kids (the dogs) to greet you, but things will be okayish….i promise!! as for shopping…. well your neice has finished school for now and im free too….we will be happy to hit the shops with you. Raj, we will let you have a massive lie in and im pretty sure you could do with one of coreys massive rolly polly massage!!love you both, su

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  3. This is definitely my favourite of your posts!Tov-do you realise how hilariously funny yet so touching you are in sharing your inner thoughts on how much you are missing so much back home and your 'normal' life? The bit about appreciating the gas station toilets after Tibet and the spitting habits of the chinese just cracked me up!! And the point of Raj's being homesick after all these months of travel actually bringing home the truth of how close you two freespirited couple really are to each other was so wonderful! I must say I think you both have a very good relaxed writing style and I am so impressed with your photos etc and the discipline in doing this blog regularly. It's been so interesting to read that I have been following your blog no matter how busy I was! I did try to post a few comments anonymously but not successful so far-well, I did register in the end and hope you get at least this one! Don't worry, Tov, we are gonna make sure you get enough 'western etiquette' and lots of shopping and pampering to make you feel ready for the final journey back home! Oh, and have no fear- we will keep the 'incinerator' warmed up ready for your travelling clothes! For you Raj, you can stretch out on Su's or Mum's enormous bed and take it easy! Sasha is waiting impatiently to lick and jump all over you both, and we too can't wait to see you both and on Maha's birthday! By the way, Mum was so delighted to receive your bithday gift for her all the way from China! Lots of love and hugs to you both-keep smiling and get to us in one piece! Sud

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