A Little Bit of Everything.

Been feeling like I want to write something, but there are SO many things to write about, and I can’t pick just one, so this is going to be a little bit about everything.

I never did get around to writing a nice post about my time teaching in Thailand, but to be honest, it was pretty awesome. Sure, things went wrong and were frustrating at times and there was a lot of drama toward the end of the semester, but then again, what job isn’t? For the most part, it was pretty great. My students (most of them) were pretty awesome kids, and it’s a different sort of rewarding teaching kids as opposed to adults.


And of course, the wonderful colleagues (most of them) I had made everything so much more bearable. The Namphong Country Bumpkins, Crain & Co, Liudon! Everything was so much better because of these guys. You know how when you’re travelling forever and ever and meet hundreds of people but know there are some people you’ll definitely see again? These are those people.




Montri Teachers Crew!






And our cats, and Tom Yum Mummy (the lady who made the best Tom Yum Noodle Soup in our village) and Fried Dough Lady (who provided me with fried dough for breakfast every morning) and all the other lovely people in our village. It was nice being part of a community again.






But, the road beckoned and it was off to Cambodia from there. First stop, Siem Reap – took 14 hours on several different buses to get to, that I promptly fell sick once I arrived. Still, it was nice being a tourist again, and meeting interesting people at the hostel!












After all the templing, it was off to Phnom Penh, which I quite enjoyed. The visit to the S21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields was absolutely tragic and heartbreaking, and I wondered why not more of this was taught in schools. To think we were right next door when it all happened, and did nothing to stop it. But then again, isn’t that what’s still happening in parts of the world where there’s senseless killing and violence?



Next stop was Sihanoukville and Koh Rong, where I’d intended to spend a few days relaxing by the beach. The beach on Koh Rong was gorgeous, and I met lots of incredible people, but it was far from relaxing. Great fun, always dancing (even without music, as some of the Koh Rong crew will tell you), plenty of laughs. 10/10 would definitely recommend!










Then it was Ho Chi Minh for a day, and back to Singapore where I successfully surprised my family by turning up unannounced, just in time for Deepavali! Woohoooo!




And that brings us the present where I’m just sitting around and slowly trying to get my younger niece to like me (she seems to hate everything and everyone), BUT my flight is booked and the next adventure is in the works!




So. Flight to Vietnam on the 17th of November, as an anniversary gift to myself : FOUR ENTIRE YEARS AGO, on the 17th of November 2013, I boarded a flight to India which marked the start of my travelling, nomadic life. And the next big adventure I’m taking myself on is a month long motorbike / scooter ride from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi! Here’s the kicker: I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle or a scooter!



The plan is to go to Ho Chi Minh and somehow learn in a few days, and then get going, along with a crazy Italian guy and his Belgian (I think?) friend and hopefully not get too badly scraped up along the way! If nothing else, it’ll make for a great story, and that’s what life is all about, innit?

So. That’s a little bit of everything – Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and the future! Stay tuned for more rubbish that I’ll write sometime in the upcoming days (or weeks or months or years)!


Happy Mid-Year-ish!

Woohoo! We survived half of 2017. And two days (almost). Way to go us!

[I feel like we need to celebrate more things in life.]

Cool. Did I have resolutions for this year? Can’t remember, so obviously I haven’t been keeping up with that. Oh, there was the one about BLOGGING MORE HAHAHAHA sorry if you fell for that; it’s my version of the April Fool’s prank (what did I even do for April Fool’s day this year?) which is maybe not very funny but whatever.


In Udaipur – Cutest little hostel with the greatest artwork!

So what’s happened so far? Two weeks in Singapore, three months in India, two-ish months in Thailand. Singapore was pretty cool – catching up with friends and family, some of whom I think were guilted into hanging out with me because they didn’t know when they’d see me again, and (mentally) preparing for India. I had no idea what to expect when it came to India, and the mental preparation was worth it.


Family that probably doesn’t need to be coerced into spending time with me.

Honestly, of the 40-odd countries I’ve been to, India tops the list by a mile when it comes to MOST DIFFICULT. Just the lack of infrastructure for tourists, the language barrier, the bureaucracy, the inefficiency, the men – every. single. day. was an exhausting struggle.


And can we please get non-child beer??

Sure, there were good times and I met some really cool people along the way, but on the whole, would not recommend. Or would, if you want to test yourself. Lots of people love India (and I was told I would too), but I am not one of those people, thank you very much.


Exhibit 1298142: Madness in India

And now Thailand. It was such a sigh of relief when I arrived (in the middle of the night, mind you) and everything was so. fricking. easy.


As easy as a beautiful, delicious, satisfying cup of coffee. Which I (almost) never got in India.

Getting out of the airport. Finding the hostel. Getting to places. Not having to deal with creepy men staring all the time. I hadn’t realized that I’d been holding my breath, but Thailand is when I heaved a sigh of relief.


The Thai massage also helped in the heaving of the sigh of relief.

Of course, it has its downsides, but I’d much rather deal with Thailand than India. And for the most part, the company here has been outstanding – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and now my small village Nam Phong. I’d definitely feel much less kindly toward Thailand if I hadn’t met such great people along the way.


We’re a pretty odd bunch, here in Nam Phong.


We’re a pretty sexy bunch too, even if I say so myself.


These housemates. And our cats. ❤

What do the next six months hold? Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be here in Thailand for the next three months, serving the rest of my time in prison. I mean, my contract. [hypothesis confirmed – do not like children]. After that, who knows. I have absolutely zero plans for the last three months of the year. I kinda want to wander around Asia for a bit more, but I’m also coming to the realization that Asia isn’t really my scene. I kinda want to get to Africa, but the possible lack of decent internet might screw my current earning potential over. I want to go back to Latin America, but what if I’ve built it up to something more than it is in my head? And Europe would be cool too, but I’m too broke for it.


Take me with you!

Well, since I’m completely and entirely undecided, suggestions and recommendations are welcome! But for now:


Tiempo para dormir!

  **On a side note, I was going through my pictures the other day, and realized that my pictures from between Kalpetta and Madurai have mostly disappeared – Allepey, Varkala, Kochi, Munnar and Kodaikanal will only ever exist in my memories. Sad.**


This is my sad face. Do you not see the sadness?

Chennai and the Sru-Kalyanam!

Three months late! I’m totally skipping like…weeks of my India trip and all of my time in Thailand so far to write this post about dearest Shrewpa’s wedding! Updates about the other bits in between may or may not follow in the months/ weeks to come, so stay tuned.

Robin (my friend from the UK who really wanted to attend an Indian wedding so I invited him to Shrew’s, with her permission) and I arrived in Chennai from Pondicherry. Pondi is only 150km away from Chennai, but it took almost 5 hours for that journey – don’t ask why; the only explanation is “It’s India”. After Robin dropped his stuff off at his hostel, we headed to meet my mum at her hotel.


Mum in India!

Bit of backstory as to why my mum was there – when I told my family that I’d be travelling around India next and that I’d be in Chennai for Shrew’s wedding, they very excitedly decided to meet me there for a few days to check India out (after 20 years) and do some shopping. It worked out perfectly, because I needed to buy clothes for Shrew’s wedding anyway, so they could do the shopping, I could wear the clothes, and then they could take the clothes back to Singapore while I carried on enjoying life. My dad had gone to Thanjavur for a couple of days and my sister and niece weren’t arriving till the next day, so it was just mumsie, Robin and me for shopping day 1 of 1000000 (I kid, but it felt like we spent sooooooo many days shopping).

My aunt who lives in Chennai had invited us for lunch, so after stuffing our faces with superamazing biryani and mutton and chicken and all sorts of other things (it’s definitely a thing: Indian families = eat till you burst), we headed to an 11-storey Pothy’s to get ourselves wedding-ready. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was overwhelmed before we even began but off we went.

Robin’s outfits were first order of business, and since he’s a guy, he was done with his outfits in about 20 minutes. He hung around valiantly for another 30 minutes or so while mum and I tried to pick outfits out for me, but eventually gave up and went back to his hostel, leaving mum and me to it. Good thing he did too, because we only finished with the shopping about 4 hours after that. x_x





End of Day 1 in Chennai.

Day 2 was slightly better – we visited the Kapaleeswarar temple and Valluvar Kottam, before picking my sister and niece, up from the airport. Decently fun, and the heat of Chennai made bearable by the fact that we were ferried around for most of the day in an air-conditioned car (perks of travelling with family)!



Huge chariot at Valluvar Kottam



The next day was Shrew’s wedding Part 1! The morning was some sort of ceremony for the couple to get blessings from their elders so that the wedding would go smoothly (I think). Robin and I turned up mostly to mingle, to eat and to get some henna done. It was probably the only time I managed to have a conversation with the kalyana ponnu, Shrewpa.


Kalyana ponnu, Shrew, and me, with a very distracted Shnoo


After that, it was back to the hotel to chill and relax before getting dressed for the evening celebrations! The nichayathartham, or engagement ceremony, is basically where the two families officially and publicly promise to marry their kids to each other. We basically spend most of it taking pictures and trying to figure out what was going on (as people usually do at Indian weddings).



Wedding glow.




No escaping now.


Robin and I showed up just in time for the Kasi Yaatra the next morning, where the groom pretends he’s going off to Kasi to live an ascetic life and the bride’s father stops him by promising his daughter’s hand in marriage. Rather elaborate play-acting which I thoroughly enjoyed.



“Here is an umbrella full of flowers! Marry my sister!” – Karthik


After that, the bride and groom were hoisted on their uncle’s shoulders and they tried to garland each other. It looked like fun for the couple, but I can’t imagine how the uncles must have been feeling. (Bursting with joy, of course!)


Next was the couple being sat on a swing (that represents the ups and downs of married life, apparently) and fed bananas and milk by the married ladies of the family.


Shrew’s face – ups of marriage, Ram’s face – downs of marriage.


The proceedings after that point were not too clear – some sort of prayers, and then more prayers, and then eventually Sru-Ram were married! Woooohooooo!



But we decided to take pictures anyway.


Throughout all of that, there was a ton of food, and one of Shrew’s uncles constantly kept checking in on us about whether we were enjoying the food and festivities. It was good fun and like at all Indian weddings, I ate too much.

After that, it was time for some much needed R&R before I got dressed to go for the evening reception. Robin wasn’t feeling very well, so I didn’t have a date but still, it’s hard not to have a good time when there’s good food. And just like that, it was the end of SruRam Kalyanam! Thank you both for having us at your wedding!


The wedding was over, but our stay in Chennai was not. The next day, Robin and I met up with my parents, sister and niece (cute little grub child I want to eat her) to head to Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We tried (and failed) to pass ourselves off as locals, and ended up getting a guided tour around, which was pretty informative.


With the family at Mahabalipuram.


The rest of the time my sister and niece were there were spent shopping and eating for the most part, so I’ll skip over that to the other interesting thing to happen in Chennai.


I was squashed in the back with all the shopping. -_-

My sister and niece had left, and my parents wanted to do more shopping (surprise) before they left, so Robin and I bailed to go to an amusement park instead. It was quite a hassle getting there – for some reason, some of the buses on that route said they wouldn’t stop at the amusement park, so we ended up having to wait ages to get the right bus and it was all very annoying but finally we managed to get there. The entrance fee wasn’t cheap but it was worth it. We were expecting to have a laugh at the lame rides, but it ended up being pretty fun. We went on a few of the major rides (not the scariest one though – who knows when the last time was that the rides had been serviced), and had a pretty good time! Not a must-go, but decent enough to kill a few hours.


Check out the tacky dragons at the amusement park – Dizzeeworld!

Then it was time to say bye to the parents before their flight, and that was about it for Chennai! It was fun (minus the shopping bits) but I must say I’m not dying to go back again. Still, worth it for the time I spent there.


Bye parents!

Teaching in Thailand

Well, I wanted to do some work, but my internet isn’t working at the moment (what a surprise!), so I decided to blog instead.

So in case you missed the last Instagram post…I now teach in Thailand! That’s right, I’m teaching about 200 kids in a school in Northeastern Thailand wooohooo!

How mad is that. I don’t even like kids haha (: These kids can be kinda annoying (as can most kids), but they’re definitely a far cry from the entitled, pompous little brats in Singapore, so that’s good. And the Thai teachers who follow them around from class to class are more than happy to act as big mother hens and keep them (somewhat) in line. Besides, this gig is only for the next 18 weeks, so I’m quite confident I’ll survive.

Well, anyway. Friends in the region, please feel free to come and visit! Bangkok would probably be a better place to meet though – where I’m at has 500 people, 4 restaurants, 2 7-11s and a Tesco supermarket. No more, no less. Lots of people selling meat on a stick though, so that keeps me happy (and fat).


What else is new. Absolutely nothing. I vacillate between thinking I have a lot of free time (there’s absolutely nothing to do in Nam Phong), and no time at all (there seems to be an insane amount of lesson planning and prep and marking to do, all while on spotty internet, so that keeps things interesting). The other teachers here are nice, which is the saving grace of being here, in the middle of nowhere. I can’t imagine how I’d be dealing with things if I had gone to the other school with only two other ESL teachers.


At lunch with the other teachers, on a very sweaty day at school.

Y, que mas? Perhaps I will finally find some motivation to get blogging about the rest of what’s happened in the last 3.5 years of travelling the world. Perhaps, but don’t hold your breath.

In any case, because you’re all my ardent fans, you’ll stay tuned for the next installation coming your way pronto. Till next time, peace and love patience and self-control!

Goodbyes Are Hard.

I started writing this when I said goodbye to you. And when you left. And when I left you. And we both went our separate ways. I started writing this in my head, after every goodbye I’ve ever said that’s broken my heart, and left me wishing goodbye wasn’t even a word that existed. I started writing this years ago, but I’ve only just put it into words.

Recently, my friend and I were speaking of goodbyes, of farewells, of separating and going our own ways.

“Surely, for someone like you, who’s been travelling for over 3 years, saying goodbye must be easy.”

The truth is, saying goodbye is never easy. And I think it’s only gotten harder and harder.

Of course, I’m not talking about saying goodbye to casual acquaintances – random people you meet in hostels and chat with over a coffee, or even people you might spend a whole day with sightseeing and talking about this and that. Those goodbyes are perhaps, not easy, but you accept them as a part of your reality. No, no. The goodbyes that I’m talking about are the ones you still think about days, weeks, months after they happen.

Travelling as much as I do, I’ve come to realize that real connections are hard to come by. People you really click with, people you feel like you’ve known for years after just a brief interaction, people you get you. When I meet these people, as rarely as it happens, it’s so easy to just be with them that I always end up being around them longer than I would ever have planned. I mean, it’s not like I have anywhere else to be, right? But inevitably, the longer I spend with them, the harder the goodbye becomes. And when we finally do part, the goodbye is always a heart-wrenching moment, as I leave with my eyes full of tears, always, fighting the urge to turn around and go right back to them.

But as with all things, the feeling fades, and eventually, I remember the wise words of A.A. Milne,

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

How lucky I am indeed. ❤


The Getting-Robbed Story Part 6

[This is a continuation of Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.]

I was rudely awoken from my fitful sleep by the buzzing of my phone – incoming call from MFA. I quickly answered, hoping for some good news about the processing of my temporary passport. God knows, I needed a win right then.

“Hi Ranjani! Yeah, I’m just calling to tell you that, actually ICA told us that they cannot accept the documents because they need to be higher resolution scans. If you can’t get a higher resolution scan, then you’ll have to send the documents by courier. And they need your travel itinerary in order to process the DOI, so please let us know which countries you’ll be transiting through.”

Not even close to the win I was hoping for, but there was nothing I could do about it at that moment so I told him I’d do what I could and hung up, before heading back to bed to catch a few more hours of sleep. The next morning, I was woken up by a far more promising phone call from PoliTur – apparently, they had worked through (some part of) the night and managed to come up with some leads. They asked me to head down to the PoliTur HQ immediately.

Excited by the prospect of maybe getting my passport back, I rushed down to the police station with Rosa in tow, who insisted on accompanying me even though it was her one free day of the week (bless her, the lovely soul). At the police station, the colonel informed us that they had tracked down and apprehended Lenny and that upon intense questioning, he had confessed to planning the whole robbery. From luring me to the river to arranging for his gang members to run off with my backpack, Lenny had masterminded the whole thing, and carried out his plot with his gang of four miscreants.

As the colonel explained this to us, Rosa broke down completely. She had known Lenny for years, and had had no idea that he was such a rotten person. I mean, can you imagine finding out that someone you’ve known for years and trusted and treated like a brother is a crook? What’s more, Lenny and his gang had been preying on tourists for years, and countless other tourists had lodged similar reports of being brought down to the river and then having their stuff stolen.

The only difference, it seemed, was the fact that with the other tourists, while the gang had stolen money and valuables like phones and cameras, they’d always left the tourists with their passports. And in all those other cases, the tourists had merely filed police reports for their insurance claims, chalked the loss up to a bad experience, and moved on instead of pursuing any course of action against the perpetrators. In my case, however, seeing as how I had no passport and no means of moving on, so to speak, I was somewhat stuck, and had escalated the situation to what it presently was.

Anyway, whatever the reason Lenny and his gang had been found out, the police weren’t able to return my passport to me despite having Lenny in custody. Well aware that he would be first to be arrested should it come to that, Lenny had left all my stuff with one of his four cronies, and the police were still trying to track them down. After meeting with various police officers who assured us that they were doing everything in their power to recover my passport (I didn’t doubt them – we spotted Lenny being interrogated rather aggressively in one of the rooms at the police station), eventually, Rosa and I were allowed to go.

Just before we left, the colonel warned me again to keep a low profile and avoid walking around town by myself because the other four gang members were still on the loose, and they might do something to keep me quiet. As we headed back to town to do some random shopping (with the money my sister had wired me), Rosa explained that it wasn’t uncommon for people to be stabbed or shot for 50 bucks, so by doing what I had done and going on TV to start a city-wide manhunt for these men, I’d inadvertently put myself in quite a delicate situation.

Well, nothing to be done about that at the moment, so we occupied ourselves with shopping and sorting out my documents to be sent to ICA / MFA. Thankfully, in the midst of all this, one of my friends who worked at MFA (shout out to David!) and my sister’s friend who also worked in MFA pulled some strings for me to get my case transferred to a more competent officer. The original officer who had been assigned my case was a junior officer who kept insisting that things be done according to the book, even thought I was clearly not in a situation to fulfill all his arbitrary requirements. The new officer was much nicer, and more helpful too, so after sending off my higher resolution scans, I received a text saying she would expedite my case with ICA and ask for some exceptions on my behalf. Yay!

The next day was spent uneventfully. I was accompanied by Rosita (Rosa had to work but refused to let me walk around by myself) as I wandered around the town taking pictures of this and that. Several times, I was stopped by random people on the street.

Ey! Eres la chica del Show de Nelson! Encontraste tu pasaporte?” – “Hey! You’re the girl from The Nelson Show! Did you find your passport?”

I would answer in the negative to which they would titter and shake their heads while making some comment about the state of the city/ country/ world. There was even once when I went to buy something, and the shop owner, having recognized me from TV, waved away my payment and gifted the item to me instead. Being treated like a minor celebrity was fun, but I was truly humbled by how wonderful and generous the people were, willing to share whatever little they had or help me out in any way they could. It gave me hope that the world wasn’t such a bad place after all, despite what had transpired.

Anyway, a little bit of a backstory into how I ended up in Santiago in the first place. I’d sailed down from Ft Lauderdale, USA to Luperon, Dominican Republic on my friend Ian’s sailboat. We’d had a falling out at that point, which is why I had come to Santiago on my own, but Ian was still in Luperon. He was preparing to set sail from Luperon in a couple of days, but given my circumstances, I was in no state to join him on the boat again, nor was I going to be returning to this part of the world again any time soon. Despite our falling out, I still cared about him deeply, and so I decided to visit him in Luperon the next day to say good bye.

So, early the next morning, I headed to the PoliTur HQ to ask the colonel about any updates on my case and to inform him about my plans to travel to Luperon for a few days (I’d been told to report my every move to PoliTur and I also had different officers calling me to check in on me during the day). The colonel didn’t have any new information for me, so he sent his constable to accompany me to catch the van to Luperon. I got a window seat, and stared out of the window as the van rumbled to life and sped off down the road toward Luperon.

About midway through the journey, the bus conductor came around collecting the bus fare. I’d just handed over my fare and was putting away my wallet, when my phone rang. It was the colonel.

“Hola?! Hola!! Vuelve a la estación inmediatamente! Tenemos…” – Hello?! Hello!! Come back to the station immediately! We have…

A bus roared past the little van and drowned out the rest of what he was saying. He probably has some new information about Lenny, I thought to myself. The phone signal was also really bad, so I quickly yelled that I was on the bus to Luperon, and hung up. Within a few minutes, my phone rang again, and this time, the signal was much better.

“No me entendiste! Tenemos tus papeles! Tu pasaporte! Vuelve a la estación ahora! Tengo tu pasaporte en mi mano!” – You didn’t understand me! We have your papers! Your passport! Come back to the station now! I have your passport in my hand!

Upon hearing those words, I yelled for the bus driver to stop (good thing they don’t really have designated bus stops there) and he immediately let me off. I jumped on the next bus back to Santiago and rushed to the station as fast as I could, hardly daring to believe that they had recovered my passport. At the station, everyone was all smiles as they congratulated me on having gotten my passport back, but the colonel had not actually arrived with my passport.

Finally, after what seemed like an interminable wait, the colonel showed up, beaming and holding in his hands, my little purse. Grinning like a little kid, he handed it over to me and I eagerly opened it up. My heart leaped with joy (I’m not saying this lightly) as I removed the distinct, bright red passport, and *bonus* credit card and driver’s license.



Passport, credit card, driver’s license, all safely within the purse.

I was literally crying tears of joy and I hugged the colonel and all the other officers, thanking them profusely for all their help in recovering not just my passport, but also my credit card and driver’s license. I called my sister back in Singapore (just in time) before she submitted my DOI application to let her know the good news – if she’d submitted the application, my current passport would have been worthless. I also informed the rest of my friends who had been so helpful throughout this whole situation to let them know that their efforts had not gone to waste.

I later found out that they had managed to track down the other four culprits and one of them finally gave up the location where they had hidden my purse. The police went down to recover it, but unfortunately had not been able to recover any of my other belongings. They suspected that the items had long been distributed and sold at the thieves market. At that point, I was just so happy to get my passport back – after all everything else could be replaced. Well, almost everything. I had in my backpack my hard drive where I’d saved all the photos from my trip so far (18 months of travelling), and that was all gone. That aside, I was thrilled to get my passport back and very glad that I could say goodbye to the terrible ordeal that Santiago had been.

After heading to the main police station to sign off on my belongings, I was free to go . Apparently, so was Lenny, because I saw him at the chino when I went to inform Rosa about the events of the morning. I avoided talking to him and seriously questioned the police department’s decision to release him, but I didn’t quite feel like starting another struggle of putting him behind bars. I took the rest of that day to get a few more items that I needed and packed up my things (the few things that I’d collected in my time there), said my goodbyes and thank yous to all the lovely people who had helped me out in such a tremendous way in these 10 excruciatingly painful days.


Truly a Godsend, Rosa. ❤


The next day, as early as I could, I hopped on the bus to Luperon, where the next (boat) adventure awaited.

—–Stay tuned for Boat Adventures!—–


Written 6 May 2014

I’m spoilt. Not in the traditional sense of having too much money and parents who indulged my every whim and fancy in order to make up for being absent presences in my life. In a way that is far worse, and in a way that cannot be fixed, if such a thing needs to be fixed.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of African drums and was greeted by the imposing view of a glorious serra, the peaks blanketed in clouds as a fine, misty rain fell and afforded everything a strange, surreal, dreamlike quality. Two weeks ago, I watched the sun rise over a clear horizon, unbroken by ships or islands in the distance, the soft orange glow illuminating crystal clear waters and an empty shoreline dotted with palm trees. Two months ago, I stood in awe of a hundred thousand gallons of water gushing down 82 meters across 700 meters at one of the world’s most majestic waterfalls. And these are just a fraction of the amazing things I’ve seen. The rest, I don’t have the words to describe, nor do I care to – I would not be able to do them justice.

I am spoilt, not because I have tonnes of money or people around me who indulge me excessively. I am spoilt, because I have had the opportunity to see the amazing wonders of the world. I am spoilt, because I have come to see the kindness of strangers as something to expect, and even depend on. I am spoilt, because I travel.

People often talk about how travel opens your eyes and broadens your mind, it teaches you to be thankful for the small things and helps you appreciate the comforts you have at home. But something that is not often mentioned, except by weary travellers who have been on the road too long, is that travel ruins you for other things.

When you’ve seen the tallest building in the world, every other skyscraper becomes just that. When you’ve seen the biggest waterfall in the world, every other waterfall looks like a trickle of water over a ledge. When you’ve seen towering mountains, walked across vast plateaus, swum in oceans of the clearest blue, everything else pales in comparison. That sense of awe that makes your breath catch in your chest and raises goosebumps up and down your arms, while never really going away, is dulled into something far less…inspiring.

The thing is, the human mind isn’t impressed by repetition; it’s impressed by novelty. And as amazing as a magnificent mountain or gushing river or scorching desert is, it ceases to impress after the first five (or ten or fifty) times you see it. Travel, while awakening your senses, also dulls them. A tired lament of travellers isn’t that they’ve seen too little, but (often?) that they’ve seen too much. Seen so much that what lies before them isn’t (and perhaps will never be) as impressive or amazing or awe-inspiring as the other things they’ve seen.

And at this stage of my journey, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the feeling of guilt – that I am spoilt for having seen so much that I am unable to appreciate the other amazing things I see. Perhaps, it would have been better if I had never left home and never seen these things, such that I still have appreciation for them and don’t take them for granted.

Yet, maybe this is the test of a traveller. A traveller then, is one who, even after weeks, months, years on the road, can still find beauty in the ordinary. Who can still appreciate every river, mountain, desert, city with wide-eyed wonderment like he did on the day he first packed his bags and left. Who sometimes, still stops to smell the flowers.

As for me, I hope one day, I will stop being spoilt, and start being a traveller.