Short-term travelers often curse the idiosyncrasies of foreign destinations such as strange toilets and unidentifiable foods. Being long-term travelers, we had no choice but to accept the local choice until we found we actually loved these options. Here are a few of the things that shocked us:
I love the conveniences and consistency of the developed world. I love that I can get the same cup of Pike Place Roast at every Starbucks globally. I love that I can get an Egg McMuffin in every McDonald’s I find. Knowing what I’m going to get removes a lot of anxiety and, sadly, thought from my daily life. Life on the road though requires me to see the many ways people attack the same problems. Here are a few that I’ve come to love.
I love shopping malls!?! Wow, I can’t believe I just said that, let alone in public…that’d be like me saying I’m listening to Taylor Swift as I type this, and, well, I wouldn’t admit to that, because of course that would never happen! OK, here’s the thing about malls, they aren’t the derelict, soul-less, institutions filled with mallrats considering their next hairstyle at Hot Topics like at home. Malls in much of the world are classy, air-conditioned, filled with great food options, and a window into the lives of a country’s wealthy. Did I mention they have free, clean bathrooms (I love need these). I decisively argued my case in the He Said-She Said: Malls vs Market post last year, but I’m still in awe with the fact that my love has only grown.
Malls, a great place for anything…even a nap!
I wish I could turn water into wine…if I could I would “bless” everyone on the Mississippi south of Minneapolis… Short of that superpower though, I love turning water into a delicious meal. All I need is some boiling water and I can whip up a delicious ramen dinner, because ramen noodles are delicious. In Asian supermarkets there is often an entire aisle of delicious ramen flavors, all of which will hit the spot for a filling dinner. I may have knocked the fact that I’ve been eating ramen here, but in reality, it’s #1 on my list of easy food.
While many travelers collect souvenirs on their trip, I like to bring home ideas and new ways of doing things instead of just trinkets. Sometimes these things are simple changes to the way I look at something and other times they are huge mental shifts. Here are a couple things that I have grown to love on our world tour and I hope won’t go away once we’re stationary.
Seeing a clean squat toilet like this as the public restroom choice always makes me smile.
On the short list of things I hope to incorporate into my life are squat toilets and communal living. These things may not seem very travel-centric, but this trip has given me a fresh perspective on each. First of all, without going into too much detail, squat toilets have become my first choice when it comes to doing my business, particularly if I’m at a public restroom. The squatting seems to make everything go smoother. There’s nothing like needing to make a deposit only to find the toilet seat covered in someone else’s mess, which requires you to give your quads a good workout while you try to hover over the hole and hold the door shut.
Communal living has become a way of life as we move from hostel to hostel and country to country. While I can’t say I always want to have to wait in line to use the shower there is something magical about sharing space with strangers. Soon those people aren’t strangers and you have a whole new set of friends and perspectives to enjoy and ponder. The power of community and the benefits of shared living are huge. So, when I go home I’m looking to establish a communal living situation with squat toilets. Let me know if you’re interested, we’ll serve ramen and have regular trips to the mall.