Day 150: Nothing to Say, Eponym to Speak for Us

We have nothing to say today. Because we've been on the worst bus known to man for a day now, have many more hours to go, and Lara's back mildy went out. But we found this article, which made our spirits rise several inches up from the gutter water Claire just stepped up to her ankles in. This person, who we stumbled upon, is from Montreal and wrote the nicest (and longest) post about TrippingOnWords we have yet to see. Thanks, Nick Taylor, for allowing us to not write anything today. Not that we could get into blogspot/blogger anyway, given certain tiny problems between communists and capitalists. And thanks, Nick Taylor, for humoring us by saying that we don't look like too fugly in our photos of this fine trip. And final thanks for being a good writer, even ending your post with the phrase "inquiring minds," because we say that, "inquiring minds want to know," a lot.

Claire and Lara's Favorite Article on TrippingOnWords

The Eponym, by Nick Taylor

Never Been Scammed, Never Gave a Damn
Lately, I’ve been reading travelogues online—blogs, diaries, FAQs from bearded guidebook authors, travel advisory warnings—both for amusement and for working up the courage to try something like that myself. My mother pointed me to this one, Tripping on Words, a trip journal of two Stanford grads, Lara and Claire, who decided to “quit life” and make a run for it. They’ve been through Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Thailand, Nepal, and probably others. I haven’t read all the entries yet.

They’ve posted to the blog pretty much every single day so far (as well as regular posting to a second blog, the thrust of which is unclear to me ). It’s a difficult thing to do, to not only have the energy to write (many of the entries being of not-insignificant substance, and some bordering on being Real Writing (at this point, Nick Taylor links to a post he liked called The Best Day), the kind you might do over the course of an evening, seated at a mahogany desk with all they day’s cares behind you, a dim light illuminating your quill and the crackle of a Thelonious Monk record in the background), but to have a dependable Internet connection everywhere you go. Who knew the broadband in Laos was so widespread? They also run a mailing list and answer all kinds of reader mail and manage to run marathons here and there, and they seem to have an odd interest in the BALCO/Barry Bonds steroid case.

These two girls have landed themselves in a nice little arrangement. They work on the side, remotely, and won’t come back home until they have to. They keep their travel funds replenished by writing on the side and doing editing work, so I suppose straying too far from a computer w/ net connection isn’t an option.

I’m having problems with all this. Having never been anywhere particularly adventurous, my concept of travel in Second and Third World countries involves a lot more purse-slashing, pickpocketing, roadside robbery, and being very careful not to show signs of wealth. I imagine sleeping in flea-infested hostels, hosing your arms and neck down with DEET before stepping outside, boiling and filtering your water, and being accosted from all sides by scamsters and fraudulent taxi drivers. Not a travel guidebook in the world exists without warnings like these. And these two are carting around laptops? And digital cameras? And in general looking impeccable (at this point, the kind kind Nick Taylor actually links to a picture of Claire, reading on a train) in every photo, right down to the jewelry, watches, and summer dresses?

I just want to know how this is possible. Even with a budget that affords four-star hotels, you’d have to be very careful in a lot of the places they’re visiting. However likely my overestimation of the dangers, I like to think that the government of Canada isn’t completely full of shit when they say that in Nepal…:

Maoist armed militia forces remain present in nearly all districts. Prior to the ceasefire, armed clashes between the Maoists and the Royal Nepal Army occurred frequently throughout the countryside, including popular trekking areas. The danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is always present. The situation could deteriorate rapidly without notice.

And here are two cute American tourists toting expensive electronics around and getting their pictures taken in front of certain Nepalese mountains and generally having a grand ol’ time in the midst of a Maoist insurgency. My hat is off to them.

It could be an obsolete Western habit to think of far-flung places as dangerous and chaotic. The guidebooks and web forums I’ve been reading certainly do nothing to dispel these fears (telltale quote from one I’m currently reading: “…anyone who is tempted to go to Cambodia should know that field research by Physicians for Human Rights estimates that ‘in Cambodia…one out of every 236 people has lost at least one limb to an exploding land mine.’ Do you really want to risk being next?”). But the general level of travel aptitude given off by these two bonne vivantes are filling me with something that could either be hope or despair. Hope in that they are backpacking worldwide, as I would one day like to, but they don’t appear to be staying in ratty hostels and showering on a monthly schedule, and, despair in that they make it look so easy, stoking my self-doubt even more. A few years ago I took a trip to France, a lovely but wholly unadventurous place, and I still wound up with a bag full of smelly, wrinkled clothes, a terrible rash, dirty shoes, and probably some French strain of pubic lice. Hell, even heading down to Toronto for a weekend manages to keep me away from my email account.

Their log is making me feel like this globetrotting thing isn’t so bad. But I wish they would post more details. How much is it costing them to stay in what appear to be very nice hotels for extended periods of time? They seem to be enjoying a pretty high quality of life over there; how is this possible when you’re living out of a backpack? Have they been robbed yet? Has there been any danger whatsoever? Inquiring minds, inquiring minds.


Jonathan said...

i like it when you guys write about random international stuff. it's entertaining. it makes it easier to force the jealousy back down my throat.

all this navel-gazing does not. navel-gazing should be reserved for coder-philosophers who sit around in their boxers at home all day, not globe-trotting, impeccably-dressed, laptop-toting, word-tripping young women. they should have higher standards!

congrats on being called Real Writers though.

Stickler said...

I'm a big fan because your stories make me want to travel more and strive towards it. Maybe someday I could be a travel writer as well!

Also Buses suck, I once got stuck taking one across ireland due to my ferry being canceled to france. It sucked and the weird people I met will never be forgotten!

diana said...

So in the latest news, once these crazy IMF-World Bank type visitors go home at the end of September (right around the time you hit Singapore actually) I will have to go let Kirby stick his needles into me again. Because it seems like there are uneven bits of the tat which are not super obvious but are obvious if you look closely and there's probably no point in having gone through all that pain if it's not going to be totally perfect at the end, right?

So yeah, I don't know the exact date but you're welcome to come along and watch me scream.

Julie said...

Hey ladies. V. exciting about the Perth Marathon - will be anticipating the details of that, once you've actually finished it. Nice article on your blog too! And thanks for putting me in your blogroll too. Just FYI, the address is wrong on my link and it sends you to an error (it's got your own URL pasted at the beginning). But I appreciate the gesture! :-)

Happy you...

bbop said...

Nick Taylor did a good job bringing up those NVFAQ's we are all curious about...

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