1/6/10: Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Sometimes I’ll sit down to write a post, going over all the things that we did that day, and it suddenly dawns on me – we didn’t do anything worth writing about.
Take today for example. Yes, we spent 15 minutes figuring out what to buy at the mini mart so we could exactly get rid of all of our leftover riel (and then we ended up with 100 extra riel anyway), we crossed the border into Vietnam, we looked for Pho 2000, the place where Bill Clinton ate pho, but couldn’t find it and so we ate at Pho 24 instead. But no one can get a whole post out of that!
So I won’t try. Instead, I’ll share with you some of the more unglamorous aspects of long-term traveling, things that we are constantly thinking about and doing but that we haven’t written about because, frankly, it’s kind of boring. But at this point in our blog relationship, I can only assume that you are in it for the long haul. It’s sort of like when you first start dating someone and you try to hide all of your craziness and don’t let them see you in your Mickey Mouse t-shirt from high school and you shave your legs every time you wear a dress, but then a few months later, you’re sitting together in your sweats watching reality TV marathons and eating pickles straight out of the jar. Not that we’ve ever done that. Because Kevin doesn’t eat pickles. But anyway, our blogger/reader relationship is now in the TV-marathon-eating-pickles-out-of-the-jar phase. You still have to read the blog and love it even when I’m being boring. Or have I confused you with Kevin? Either way, my analogy has gone on for far too long, so let’s get down to it.
We usually spend the night before a new city planning out the next few days of our trip – where we’re going to stay, what we’re going to do, etc. The problem with this is that we’ll spend way too long looking at way too many places to stay and Kevin will end up saying, “Well, what about that one place that’s sort of far away from the city center but got an 85%?” and then I’ll have a blank look on my face and respond, “Which place? What are you talking about?” Because I have the memory of a goldfish. This makes it sort of difficult to accomplish things.
Being the anal retentive people that we are, we really pride ourselves on withdrawing exactly the right amount of money to get us through a country. But since we are both strong-willed and have this strange tendency to think that we’re right all the time, sometimes this can lead to a bit of bickering when we’re at the ATM trying to determine the just-right amount of money to withdraw. (But I’m always right.) And on top of keeping track of what kind of exchange rates we’re getting and exactly how much we spend every day, I’m also constantly thinking about other money things – like, should I rebalance my retirement portfolio (yes, I have a retirement portfolio, thank you, Mom and Dad, for forcing me to save half of my high school cake girl wages), and do we owe the IRS money this year? (No, I don’t think so, but I really can’t be sure, those IRS people are so tricky.)
Kevin and I both love to eat, so we’ll sometimes spend an absurdly long time walking around deciding on a place to eat. Other times we’ll spend an hour online looking up good places to eat but then can’t decide on anything anyway because there are so many conflicting reviews, and how do we know if pauljones257 is a better judge of Thai food than travelcutie4? It’s impossible. So we’ve come up with a system to help solve this problem – the only thing is, the system doesn’t really work. Ideally, on odd-numbered days I am in charge of making the decisions, including deciding where to eat. And on even-numbered days, it’s Kevin’s responsibility. But the way it often works is that on my days, I try to defer the eating decision-making to Kevin because I am absolutely terrified of picking a mediocre place. “I choose that you choose where we eat!” I’ll say to Kevin, trying to worm my way out of making any eating-related decisions. You can see why this system tends to fail most of the time.
4. Administrative Blah Blah
Laundry. Uploading pictures to the computer. Backing up pictures onto the hard drive. Sending packages home. Writing the blog. Answering emails. Buying toothpaste. Packing. Showering. No really, showering. Category: things that we have to do that we sometimes put off for far too long? Ding ding ding!
You see, even though we usually write about all of the fun and exciting things that we do, we spend a lot of time making sure that it’s possible for us to do all these fun and exciting things, if that makes any sense. So now when you picture us walking around the streets of Vietnam, you’ll know what we’re really doing: standing inside a stuffy ATM booth trying to figure out how many millions of dong we should withdraw. That’s right, MILLIONS. I love this country.
Picture of the Day: The view from our guesthouse balcony. Can you tell we’ve been a bit lax on the photos lately?