(I wrote the following post a week ago. It wasn’t supposed to still describe my current situation…and yet here I am.)
I’m not really sure when it happened, but I’ve recently started living in Taiwan. I’m not talking about arriving here by airplane on August 6th; I’m talking about an unconscious transition between backpacking around a country and living there. Gradually I’ve started to fall into routines, get comfortable, carry my laptop around more than my camera, and (as much as I hate to admit it) washing my own laundry in a washing machine. This has to stop…
I suppose this was bound to happen – after all I left Australia and its $10 beers behind in an attempt to regain my sanity. Flying to Taiwan allowed me to escape the constant concerns of how much money I was spending to eat a banana, apple, almonds, and a slice of chicken each day. In Melbourne you could buy an avocado for $3; in Taipei you can buy 60 spicy Korean pot stickers for $3. I know math can sometimes be hard, but even Buridan’s Ass could figure out the better choice between the two. Taiwan is a great place – cheap, safe, and easy to get around. It all sounds great right? Certainly I’m not about to complain about something…am I? Yeah I am.
The idea of travel – the very definition of it – implies perpetual movement from place to place. Lately I’ve been doing more living than traveling. Living in Taipei does have its advantages – familiar faces, familiar bathrooms, familiar routines, and an all around feeling of being comfortable. Strangely, all of the familiarity in the last month does come with a major drawback. With travel I was constantly on the move – showing up in a different location every few days with a proverbial check-list of things to do, see, and experience. Lately, with living, I’ve found myself going in the opposite direction – saying things like, “I can do that tomorrow when the weather is better” and “I’ll have to do that after watching college football all day.”
In this regard I’ve come to feel that travel is best done with a near-term visa expiration date or an onward ticket to your next destination that keeps you perpetually moving forward. Deadlines are a great motivational tool – whether related to work (like a presentation) or a personal goal (that 10K coming up in 3 weeks that you haven’t trained for). They continue to get closer and closer regardless of what excuses you make, how the weather was over the weekend, or how much you really enjoyed a specific city and stayed there for an extra week.
I need a deadline. Fortunately I have one – I’ve agreed to leave the apartment I’ve been living in by October 1st.
I need to get back on the road again. Back into possibly bed-bug infested dorm rooms. Back into minivans with 14 people that most likely won’t miss a turn and summersault down the side of a mountain. Back into unexpected situations happening in unfamiliar countries. …And so, after counting all of my pennies and tallying all of my airline miles, I’ve decided that this trip has one or two more countries remaining before I return to the USA in the dead of winter and watch the strange tan on my feet slowly fade into nothingness.
At this point all I have is a rough idea of where I do and don’t want to go next and a timeframe on when I’ll get there. In the next day or two I’ll ideally have all of the pieces worked out and type up some of the specifics. Until then, all suggestions and guesses are welcome – since I don’t even have an answer myself. All I know is that I’m not quite ready to ride off into the sunset…