By the Nam Song river in Vang Vieng, I was afraid. I was afraid I might step on a landmine. I was afraid I couldn’t communicate with the locals. I was afraid of having dirty hair. I was afraid of washing my hair in the river in case the locals thought I was doing it wrong. I was afraid of everything: I was afraid of my fear. Because I was afraid, I wished I was anywhere but where I was, doing anything other than what I was doing, which is pretty much the most dangerous thing one can do.
In January, 2011 our family embarked on a little backpacking trip through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It was the first time Mark and I had really travelled together. We soon discovered that if it’s true that travelling brings out a person’s true colours, our colours were a bit, shall we say, murky.
I like to take my time while Mark likes to be on time.
I enjoy holidays. Mark enjoys travelling.
I enjoy spending hours sitting still, sipping coffee and people-watching. Mark enjoys spending about an hour sitting still before he goes stir crazy and has to go do something physical.
I am that person who is being paged at the airport. Mark is that person who is waiting at the gate long before boarding has even been announced.
Even before we left home we were in a swivet with each other. I’m not quite sure how we managed it, possibly it was something to do with packing; perhaps I wasn’t being efficient enough. I am the kind of person who leaves her suitcase open until the very last minute in case I have forgotten something. I pack in no particular order and put my bags into the car at the very last minute. Mark likes to have all bags packed and lined up in the hall, by the door, well before departure; preferably the night before departure.
Not only do Mark and I have different ideas about such preparations, but Alex, who has predominantly been raised by me (being my first child from a previous relationship), behaves similarly to me in the area of travel time management.
Nonetheless, our plan was to backpack through three countries over two weeks, staying no more than three nights in any given place with two children aged 13 and three, in budget accommodation. Were we crazy? Yes, I think we were.
Continued in part two.7 Comments