Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lessons We're Learning from Travelling

by Tom and Courtney

Here's a collection of some of the things that Courtney and I are hoping to take away from our travel experiences so far. It's an incomplete list of lessons we've been taught, but not necessarily learned! If you have any lessons you've been taught, or even lessons you've learned, please share.

1) It's easier to sort stuff out at home than abroad
A sealed transcript for a Korean E-2 visa costs £5 in the UK and they do it while you wait. Trying to get it (and other documents) to you in Bangkok led to Lesson 2.

2) It takes longer and costs more than you think it will
 Train rides, visas, meals and taxis have all taught us this lesson in whole or in part

3) Tom doesn't need to go to Bangkok again
Over a month here is fine by me. Been there, got two t-shirts.

4) Courtney finds pedestrian sidewalks great
Not having to check that a tuk-tuk is going to run you down from behind is great. Not having to worry that while you're checking for tuk-tuks behind you, a moped might crash into your front is even better. That's why they're called sidewalks.

5) Eat and drink before you get crabby
Courtney and I are fairly simple creatures. Three things will get us crabby: being hungry, thirsty or tired, hence Lesson 6

6) Nap
Not only does it stop us from getting crabby, it gets really hot around midday here. A siesta under the air-con can be a great way to escape the heat.

7) What they tell you might not be true 
Funny story here. After getting our Thai visas extended at the Cambodian border we were told we would have to wait until 4:30pm (almost 2 hours) before our mini bus would leave, so we scarpered off, had an iced coffee and started this list. We got back to the pick-up point around 3:50pm to find that the bus had already left. Fortunately it hadn't gone too far so was able to turn round and pick us up. We were able to laugh and quote this rule to each other. 

8) Carry tissues
For the bathroom, for minor slips and spills, for writing things on, for tinder when lighting a fire, as a tiny signaling device. The list goes on...

9) Take salted nuts into the jungle
A good way to replace the salt lost through perspiration, a source of protein and a handy way to remove leeches when they latch onto your ankle. Rub some salt on them and they detach. Don't try to pull them off, you might break a part of them off that could lead to your cut getting infected. 

10) If you get a visa in Cambodia, wait in line
We got stung for 500 baht each so that we could get the visa processed quicker, but then had to wait an hour for our bus.

11) Fed-Ex accounts are great
When you have to send a request for a document, then have that document sent to a different agency for authentication, then have them send it on to you, it's so much easier with your own Fed-Ex account.

13) It's probably possible, but remember Lesson 2
We've had some fairly serious road blocks thrown up in front of us but have managed to overcome them so far, but you really need to want it to get it.

14) Don't pretend like you know the rules
Just because you've done something similar once before, it doesn't mean it'll be the same this time. If someone tells you what did or didn't work for them, might not be the same for you. Read the instructions before opening the box.

15) Don't back-to-back 12+ hour train rides
We took a sleeper train from Phuket to Bangkok then a daytime one from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We were smelly, tired and pretty darn loopy by the time we got to Chiang Mai.

16) Try food you can't pronounce 
It's probably quite delicious and even if it isn't then you know for future reference.

17) Trust your instincts
They're probably right.

18) Try to have a 'Plan B'
It makes you feel better while pursuing a kinda crazy 'Plan A'.

19) Choose your battles
There are people you can

20) Going home isn't giving up
It's not a bad Plan B and you get to fight another day.

21) There are always more options than you can see
Don't get discouraged when you suffer a setback. Go for a walk, sit and have a coffee and options tend to start presenting themselves. 

22) Don't mix business with pleasure
If you're on holiday, then holiday. Don't try and get a job in a different country and expect to continue the holiday experience. 

Feel free to add Lessons 23+

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