Saturday, October 05, 2013

Confessions of a First Time Backpacker

Colors of Vietnam

Four months later and looking back, I’m reminiscing my first backpacking trip from start to end. Most of it, I’d already documented here on my blog. The whole process of reading my travel journal and re-writing it into several blog posts was meticulous and tedious but it brought a lot of good memories and valuable realizations.

Backpacking is not for the fainthearted. I thought I didn’t have it in me to live on five pairs of clothing for 13 days and emerge from the bathroom dry using a thin, small towel. I cringed at the idea of riding a train for 30 hours without taking a bath. A self-confessed introvert like me balked at the thought of making small talks with complete strangers.   

But I survived! How? By getting my clothes laundered after 3 days so I had a fresh supply of clothes for the days to come, using an absorbent towel, bringing along a pack of wet tissues for those no-bath days, and finding the guts to chat up fellow travelers – not all the times but it was a good start.

I think this is the very essence of travelling by backpack: to survive on the minimum essentials, to be creative at finding solutions, and do things you normally wouldn’t do in your daily routine. It is a perfect excuse to live differently, think differently, and act differently. One might just discover that the difference was all it took to become the person you always wanted to be.

Backpacking is for the strong-willed and the goal-oriented. It is also a test of character – summoning the last inch of your self-control when a flea market vendor screams at you; and of patience – walking around for hours until you find what you’re looking for.

I could go on and on. But I am just getting started. My wanderlust has awakened and beckoned to me. And the world is waiting to be conquered, one backpack at a time.

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