What I’ve learnt so far
I’m feeling lighthearted today and in the spirit of said lightheartedness, here’s a list of what I’ve discovered after travelling for six weeks:
1- Of the countries I’ve visited, China has the best street signs
The wonderful thing about Chinese street signs is that they’re all marked with characters denoting the four wind directions- Dong, Xi, Nan and Bei- East, West, South and North. To me, this makes map reading easier because you get a clearer picture of the direction in which you should be headed, rather than to go ‘left’ or ‘right’. Road signs in every country in the world should go the Chinese way. (I think).
2- Your toenails can drop off
3- Leaving the countries you leave can be difficult
Every country I visited on this trip has had a hold on me, even the ones I’ve been to before. I found that I was responding to Mongolians with Russian words and phrases and likewise, in Mongolian when I was in China. Now, in Vietnam, I have to stop myself from saying ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ in Mandarin. It sounds silly and over-the-top but it’s true.
4- Socialising can be a pain after a while
Exchanges like “Hey, where are you from?”, and “How long have you been here?” and “So, where are you headed to next?” with the people you meet can get tiresome and dull after a while. On some days, you just want to be anti-social and by yourself.
5- Train bunks are fantastic but there’s nothing like a real bed
6- A good travel towel works just fine, but there’s nothing like a large bath towel
Trust me on this.
7- You can never have too many pens
If you’re travelling and planning to keep a journal, bring lots of pens. I’ve used up four pens and my last one which I bought in Shanghai dried up after a week, which is ridiculous considering I bought it in a proper store. And if you’re fussy about your pens, bring a whole bunch of them before you leave.
8- In Vietnam, taking a proper taxi is often cheaper than taking a cyclo or motorbike
The taxis in Vietnam use meters while the cyclos/tuk-tuks and motorbike guys, don’t. It’s easy to negotiate before you take the ride but I’ve had cyclo drivers who’ve gone back on their word and demanded more than what was originally agreed. I didn’t give them what they wanted and now have completely resorted to taxis.
9- One of the best things you can bring with you is a sarong.
Great to change in if you’re camping with other people, for sleeping on if the sheets on your berth or bed don’t look too clean, as a towel, as a curtain if your room doesn’t have one and to wrap your dirty clothes in before you wash them. The possibilities are endless.
Have a great weekend!
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