10 Things I Learned in 10 Months of Traveling in 2010 (with pictures!)

January 3, 2011
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I don’t do top ten list type entries very often (like ever). Usually I just blather on for a couple hundred paragraphs about cookies and my pants until I remember that I was supposed to have a point. (If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, you have some catching up to do. You’ll need to go to the archives and start at the beginning. You might need to take a sabbatical from work.)

It being the new year and all (happy 2011, by the way!), I decided I would try something new… something different… something totally revolutionary.

It’s called (wait for it): being concise!

I’ve even made a New Year’s resolution to be more concise with my blog post writing this year. Yes, I have blog resolutions. In fact, the only resolutions I made this year are regarding my blog. And, yes, I realize that makes me a huge dork. (Maybe I should have made a resolution to pick up a new hobby that isn’t nearly as nerdy? You know, one that I could talk about with people at a bar without having them fall asleep. I’m not exactly an athletic person or the musical instrument type, but I’ve always wanted to try knitting… or maybe sudoku. Those are sexier than blogging… right?!)

Of course, like most people, I’m not particularly good at keeping resolutions. So I imagine I will be back to long blathery posts about my pants in no time. But, until then, you can enjoy my attempt at being concise. (Or, more aptly, concise-ish.)

And, look, I even added pictures!

1. It’s possible to miss a home that you never knew was your home.
At the end of last February, I left Japan after living and working there for three years. I liked a lot of things about Japan — the food, the culture, the arts, my paycheck.

But, I never felt like I really fit in in Japan.

I didn’t speak much Japanese. I weigh twice as much as the average Japanese person and could never buy a pair of pants. I didn’t have a Japanese partner or spouse, like most long-term foreigners in Japan. I had a handful of Japanese friends, but most of my friends were other expats. In short, it never felt like my home.

Until I left it.

I don’t miss the stress of my job (or even my paycheck… okay, maybe I miss my paycheck). But I do miss my friends, my sunny little apartment and my neighborhood running path. I miss the traditional hot spring baths. I miss my neighborhood sushi shop. Heck, I even miss weird things like the smell of the tatami mats in my living room and the beer vending machine on my corner. (Okay, that’s not weird, right? I mean who wouldn’t miss a vending machine that sells beer? Hello?)

2. You won’t know if you like something until you try it (or “Stinky tofu isn’t as bad as it sounds”).
En route to Thailand from Japan, I stopped in Taiwan for a week where I gorged on night market food including stinky tofu. And I liked it. You know what is as bad as it sounds? A bitter gourd smoothie. Trust me on this one. Blech.

As a professed homebody and a seriously slow traveler (like glacially slow), I really didn’t know if I’d like traveling long-term. I like shoes and closet space and personal space and my couch. I don’t particularly like twelve-hour bus rides or dirty guesthouses or dealing with other people before noon. But I have kind of liked this. I even have plans to keep up the long-term travel thing next year (except with more shoes… and, potentially, a couch).

3. Not knowing what you’re getting yourself into is often for the best. Especially if what you’re getting yourself into involves cobras.
When I  moved to Thailand to house-sit in the middle of a jungle for two months, many of my friends and family members asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into.

“Sure,” I said.

I lied.

The couple who I was house-sitting for had told me that I would be living in a house near a small village, about ten miles away from the nearest town. They informed me of my duties: taking care of the cats, watering the gardens, putting out the trash, picking up the mail, killing ants with magic ant-killing chalk… that kind of thing.

They didn’t mention the cobras until the day before they left town. (After seeing the stricken look on my face, they assured me there weren’t many cobras. Phew.) They also didn’t mention the spiders the size of small elephants. Or the fact that the market only sold chicken in two varieties: with the head on or with both the head and feet on. They didn’t tell me that some ants don’t die no matter how many times you brandish your magic chalk. They also didn’t tell me about the neighborhood pack of wild dogs that liked to run after white girls on bikes.

I got to find out all those things on my own.

If I had known these things prior to moving to Thailand, I probably would have never gone. In fact, if I had known most of outcomes of this past year, I probably wouldn’t have ever left Japan. If I had known that in ten months time I’d work my way through twice as much money as I planned, half as many countries as I had hoped and way too many plates of pad thai (rendering me incapable of fitting into the few pants that I own), I would have never signed up. Instead, I’d still be sitting in my apartment in Japan (most likely sniffing at the tatami mat or something weird like that).

While it wasn’t a year I would have expected, it’s a year I’m glad that happened. I’ve learned a lot. (I mean, magic ant killing chalk, people! I never would have learned about that if I hadn’t left Japan). I’ve grown a lot. (And not just horizontally! I swear!) And I think I’ve gotten a little bit closer to the person I want to be. (Although, I do kind of wish that person could fit into her pants… just saying.)

4. You can make friends anywhere… even on a rice farm.
I’ve met a lot of awesome people on this trip — other travelers, fellow volunteers, people I originally met on Twitter, the students at the school where I’m currently volunteering. But, Mr. Choi, my supervisor at the organic rice farm in Malaysia, where I worked for two months this past spring, was definitely the best.

I mean, the man bought me sickles.

Really, there’s no competition.

5. Some things sound like a lot more fun than they actually are. And just because it sounds like fun doesn’t mean it’s your kind of fun.
After living on a rice farm for two months, I thought I was up for anything. Live on a boat for month? No problem! So in July, I signed up to help with a boat-building project in Eastern Malaysia. Living on a boat sounded so much cooler than living on a muddy rice farm. Besides, how difficult could it be — this boat-building thing?

In one short month, I almost capsized a dinghy,  sanded off all of my fingernails (and the majority of my fingertips) and made more varnish mistakes than I care to remember. I learned I really prefer life on land… especially life that doesn’t involve varnish.

The following month, I signed up to volunteer and live at a hostel in Laos. That sounded like fun, too.

Yep. That lasted one night.

6. Group tours aren’t all bad. Especially when there’s a possibility you might blow off a leg.
 Despite swearing off group tours early on in my trip, I signed up for a group tour when I was in Phonsavan, Laos, to see the Plain of Jars sites.

I enjoyed my tour so much and the group that I was with that we signed up for another group tour for the following day. It turned out to be a group tour of a UXO field. As our tour guide gleefully pointed out unexploded cluster bombs and the like, I was glad to have a few friends around. It was encouraging to know that if I did blow off a leg or two, there would be someone around to drag my bloody body from the field.

That’s what friends are for, right?

7. Plans change. Even when you didn’t have a plan to begin with.
After leaving Laos in October, I returned to Thailand. Having already spent a month in Thailand three years ago and two months house-sitting here earlier in the year, I didn’t have any plans to return. But that’s just how things worked out.

And I’m glad they did. I’ve met lots of awesome people, done lots of awesome things and experienced a lot of the culture that I wasn’t able to while I was living on my own.

I also did a lot of nothing.

It’s been pretty awesome.

In January, I’m heading home to visit my family in Buffalo, NY, before I move on to China. This was another one of those “never in the plan” kind of thing. Originally the idea was that I would travel for as long as I could until I hit all the countries I needed to see in Asia, and then head home. Besides, who in their right mind schedules a trip to Buffalo in the middle of winter? Really.

Even though I didn’t start off with a strict plan to begin with, I’ve learned to be a lot more flexible with the few plans that I have. It seemed right to move back to Thailand. It seems right to go home for a bit. (It may not seem so right when I get hypothermia after battling twenty feet of snow in the only pair of pants that still fit me — a flimsy pair of linen capris with a drawstring waist, of course. But we’ll deal with that when the time comes.)

8. Travel may change your life. But it won’t fix your life. Or you.
When I left Japan, I was burnt out and depressed. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I needed a change. I set off to “find myself” (whatever that means). And I sincerely hoped that the person I found was a lot better than the person I was.

I’ve learned a  whole bunch of wondrous things on this trip (magic ant-killing chalk!), but I’ve also learned a few things about myself. And they’re not all necessarily good things.

I still suffer from chronic bouts of depression.

I am so independent that I border on becoming a hermit. I can easily hole myself up in my apartment or guesthouse for days without talking to a single soul.

I will never be a morning person.

I’m not very good at that whole self-restraint thing.

I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.

But, maybe I have changed a little. It took me three months of bicycle riding in Chiang Mai, but I’m finally brave enough to use the turning lane for my bike. (Before I would just stop on the side of the road and scamper across during the red light). After ten months of living out of one bag, I’ve become a lot more conscious about my belongings and better at not buying things I don’t need. I’ve even cut down on my cookie consumption (true story!).

Heck, I even managed to be more concise than usual. I didn’t get to numbers 9 and 10 on my list, and I’m already finished. Look at me being all short-winded with my bad self!

Maybe I am a changed person. I might even be better at keeping resolutions than I thought. Now to work on that resolution about being able to fit back into my pants…

Editor’s Note:
I was quite proud of myself last night. My blogging resolution was to be more concise and spend less time laboring over each post (as this has seriously cut down on the number of posts I manage to produce). I managed to finish this post in less than a day. (Usually it takes me two or three days. Seriously.) And I got my word count to under 2,000 words.

This morning, I came back to this post and revised the heck out of it. And added a lot more words.

Old habits die hard, people.


I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On January 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm Laura said:

    Sally, I love how you threw pictures into this post! Who needs points 9 & 10 when you made 8 fabulous points. I can agree with pretty much all of them (except living on a boat thing because I’ve never done it. however, it sounds painful). How much longer will you be in Chiang Mai?
    Laura recently posted..Montage Monday- The Oldest Town in Denmark

    • On January 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Laura. I used to do a lot more pictures in my posts (especially when I lived in Japan and wielded my camera phone like a maniac) but after reformatting my blog two times I haven’t bothered to move over most of the pictures to the reformatted posts. And got rid of lots of the photo-heavy posts just to save me the hassle. I’m hoping with 2010, to do at least 1 shorter post per week with pictures.
      I’m in Chiang Mai until mid-January, then off to Buffalo (which I’m super excited about…. despite all the snow!) and then China in mid-February. If all goes as planned (but, you know, how those plans go).

  2. On January 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm Lisa E @chickybus said:

    Great post…looks like you had a fantastic year–one full of adventure, introspection and personal growth. Here’s to an equally awesome 2011!
    Lisa E @chickybus recently posted..2010- A Wild Ride on a Flowing River

  3. On January 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm Katie said:

    Great look back at your year! Please don’t get too concise in the coming year or your posts won’t be nearly as entertaining!

    Have a great 2011!
    Katie recently posted..The Rollercoaster That Was 2010

    • On January 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Katie. Glad some people like me just the way I am — long-winded & unable to fit into my pants! I promise not to get too concise. I have a few longer, thinkie posts already planned for later this week or next. But they take me such a long time to write so I find I put them off & post a lot less frequently than I’d like. So I’m aiming for a balance of long-winded and not so long-winded. We will see if it works!

  4. On January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World said:

    Your posts always manage to make me laugh. Love the pics in your post — hopefully you get to keep that up. Here’s to an even more interesting year!
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..7 Endearing Quirks of Indonesia

  5. On January 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm Sandy said:

    Will you keep blogging in China? If not I will cry real tears.

  6. On January 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm marybindc said:

    Magic ant-killing chalk! Cool! I liked the sfgate link where the person prissily answers that it could cause all sorts of undesirable physical effects and HEY THE BOX IS TOXIC TOO! Uh look, none of this is nearly as dangerous as *fire*, which would be my first thought in repelling waves of ants. Bring on the convulsion-causing chalk, I say!

  7. On January 3, 2011 at 8:06 pm Don said:


    It’s Happy 2011…

  8. On January 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm maryanne said:

    It’s about time you did a top ten list— and with a surprise ending! Who would have guessed there would only be 8 things in the list? I kind of like the idea of having Blog Resolutions for the new year. I may have to cut back on gratuitous mop shots and dead chicken references. And maybe I’ll actually write something thoughtful like you do so well instead of just uploading random photo spam.

    Am glad you did this retrospective-disguised-as-a-list. You don’t need to shorten or simplify your posts. They are just fine as they are.

    • On January 4, 2011 at 2:14 am Sally said:

      Actually I was thinking about your blog & all your mop-shots & chickens and thinking “I should do more posts like that!” Not necessarily mop-shots (as I am not obsessed… like some), but more pictures-of-stuff-I-see or what-happened-today-in-my-life stuff or hey-look-at-this-craziness. i used to do those things more when I lived in Japan back when I had a camera phone, but haven’t really done much since.
      The main reason why I’m thinking about shortening stuff is more for me than readers (yes, it is all about ME). I find myself putting off writing stuff because I know how long it’s going to take me (too long) and I would really like to be more regular with my posting. So, I’m hoping that if I don’t feel the pressure (self-imposed of course) to always crank out these big long thinkie pieces and every once in a while just let myself do a fun picturey piece than maybe I can post more frequently. Or not. We will see.

  9. On January 4, 2011 at 3:26 am Heather said:

    Was just talking about #8 with my best friend who is from Buffalo and heading to Oz in just a few weeks on the WHV. Hmm, you two should meet!

    Anyway, I liked the 10 8 things you learned in 10 months and will be reading about what 2011 has in store whether you’re concise-ish or talking about your pants. I’m sure after macaron madness this month I’ll be talking heaps more about mine.
    Heather recently posted..Heather’s Holiday Hiatus

    • On January 4, 2011 at 4:11 am Sally said:

      When does she leave? I’ll be there from mid-January to mid-February. I’m ridiculously excited.

      • On January 4, 2011 at 4:17 am Heather said:

        She’s not 100% yet (hasn’t booked a flight) but we were chatting about options this morning. Probably by Feb. 10 🙂

        You two could meet at the Chocolate Bar downtown (ohmygosh so yum!). Or anywhere really….but Chocolate Bar sounds perfect.
        Heather recently posted..Heather’s Holiday Hiatus

        • On January 4, 2011 at 4:24 am Sally said:

          I love how you’re planning where we should meet. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been to the Chocolate Bar. I’ve only been back to Buffalo once in the past 4 years so it’s possible it wasn’t around when I was there. One more reason to be excited to go home to Buffalo!

          • On January 4, 2011 at 4:43 am Heather said:

            Emailing you — it’ll be from a Yahoo address instead of my blog Gmail one.
            Heather recently posted..Heather’s Holiday Hiatus

          • On January 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm Nicole said:


            I can absolutely relate to #8! As Heather mentioned, I’m just getting ready to embark upon my own long-term travel adventure & I’m trying hard not to set my expectations too high. A big part of the reason for my trip is that I still don’t know what I want to do with my life either & I used to be a career counselor! Guess I wasn’t so good at that job! 😉

            I’d love to meet up in Buffalo! I just sent you an email, so hopefully we’ll be able to connect in the coming weeks.

          • On January 5, 2011 at 3:28 am Sally said:

            Well, I wouldn’t say “don’t set your expectations too high” (that sounds like a bummer thing to say), but I would say “be prepared to change your expectations.” When I left my job a year ago, my expectations were that I would spend a year seeing Asia doing lots of wacky odd jobs and never paying rent and then end up writing a book about my experience (okay, maybe all of those expectations were a bit too high… my jobs stopped being so wacky after I ditched the hostel job and as for rent… yeah). But I have accomplished a number of things I never expected. When I left Japan this blog was just a piddly little thing that nobody but my mom and dad read (and I’m pretty sure my mom just skimmed it). Now I have random strangers reading it and commenting on it and sending me emails telling me I inspired them. Me? An inspiration? Yeah, I certainly couldn’t have expected THAT. So, yeah, have expectations… but don’t be surprised if they change.
            Can’t wait to meet you in Buffalo! I just wish Heather was going to be there to join us!

  10. On January 4, 2011 at 3:34 am Jaime said:

    I feel the need to apologize 1st. I did not mean my RT to be mean at all, it was just me being sarcasted…because I know a lot of people (my self included) hate top 10 list. So I am sorry, I hope we can still be friends and go to Brazil looking for our twins.

    Back to the post. You have a way of always making me laugh & also think about the choice I am making in my life. For some reason I just feel like I can relate to you so well. I don’t know why…so dont ask.

    I am glad you posted this post. I just posted a post about how scared I am about the choice I made. Even though I know I am gonna get on the plane and take off. Reading this made me realize okay “Jaime calm the fuck down its going to be okay”. My fav is #7 cus oh is that so true…plans change all the time. Its something I am going to have to learn to deal with. Congrats on 10 months of travel. Good luck in Buffalo and maybe Ill visit it you in China if I make it there on my RTW trip.

    PS: I read your hostel story the other night drunk…OMG TOO F*CKING FUNNY!!!
    Jaime recently posted..HUGE CHANGE OF PLANS!!!

    • On January 4, 2011 at 4:10 am Sally said:

      I was just kidding! And, yes, I am a hater of the Top 10 lists so this was all a bit tongue-in-cheek for me. (Especially the part where I left out 9 & 10). And, of course, we are still on for the twins.
      Don’t worry about the freaking out. I freak out all the time (especially when people mention cobras). Just breathe & remember that, most likely, everything will be okay. I never saw a cobra the entire time I was house-sitting. So, yeah, things work out. (But I did see lots of massive spiders. In that case, I recommend to always carry around a spider-weapon like a pitchfork or a plunger. One time I used a Swiffer. That worked pretty well)

  11. On January 4, 2011 at 5:21 am Kelly said:

    Cute! Ahh, I’m headed to Thailand in a couple of months! Can I borrow your ant killing chalk?
    Kelly recently posted..Bug Bytes- Nairobi- Kenya

    • On January 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm Sally said:

      Unfortunately don’t have any one me at the moment. I haven’t needed any ant-killing chalk in Chiang Mai (phew!) but I’d definitely carry it on your person if you end up hanging out in the jungle for very long.

  12. On January 4, 2011 at 6:31 am Chichi said:

    As always, your posts leave me chuckling at the end. Cheers to a great 2010 Sally. Here’s to more happy trails in 2011!
    Chichi recently posted..Sole Sisters Guide to Surfing in the Philippines Part 2

  13. On January 4, 2011 at 11:04 am Tijmen said:

    Wow, you really had a year full of adventures 🙂 The Cobra thing is just one of the these things that gets in your head, don’t think I would have gone if I would have know about them before. But realisticly, what are the changes you would see one, or got bitten by one? Most people live all their lives around them without trouble.
    Tijmen recently posted..8 Golden Rules to Safe Travel in India

    • On January 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm Sally said:

      I seriously didn’t sleep at all the night they told me about the cobra & was contemplating sneaking out while they were sleeping. But luckily no cobras (I was told there weren’t many around as the villagers often kill them & eat them for food). I also didn’t see any pythons on the rice field either (I lost some sleep over that one too!).

  14. On January 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm Ayngelina said:

    Sally you’ve got some awesome photos, so glad this template allows you to post them.

    I can totally relate to the first point, I felt the same way about the Philippines, struggled as an outsider the entire time there and then missed it like crazy when I left.

    Except the durian, no one ever misses that.
    Ayngelina recently posted..2010- The year bacon got a little crazy

    • On January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm Sally said:

      Oddly, I actually enjoy the smell of durian (never cared so much for the taste — didn’t hate it, per se, but can’t see myself craving it). But every time I smell durian it reminds me of Malaysia where I first ate it & I feel nostalgic for the rice farm.
      And, yes, I am nostalgic for the rice farm. It’s possible I have problems.

  15. On January 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm Laura said:

    Your posts always make me laugh. Wishing you all the best in 2011! Now if they only had beer vending machines here in Mexico… 😉
    Laura recently posted..¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

    • On January 5, 2011 at 3:21 am Sally said:

      The beer vending machine business needs to go global already. I can’t believe that Japan is the only country with such geniusness (or is it? Anyone know?).

  16. On January 5, 2011 at 1:51 am Cristine said:

    The beer vending machine is a winner…I want one!!

    What a great year you had! Cheers to another year of awesomeness! 🙂
    Cristine recently posted..Photo of the Week 1

  17. On January 5, 2011 at 1:52 am Megan said:

    Sigh. I love your list, but I saw myself too much in some of them. Like the last one. All last (school) year, I kept telling myself–‘If I can just quit my job and move away, I’ll be happy. That’s all I need.’ Turns out it’s not actually that easy! Who knew?

    Yeah…I did. I’ve tried the moving-to-be-happy in the past, and it didn’t work then. Still, I don’t regret the move, and it’s made me happier in many ways. So that counts, right?

    Swinging through BKK on your way home, by any chance?
    Megan recently posted..Book Smackdown 2010

    • On January 5, 2011 at 3:14 am Sally said:

      It’s funny, no matter how many times I tell myself moving my location won’t automatically fix my life, I still do it. Like ALL the time. I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that maybe I’m just one of those people that needs to make a big change (country, job, hairstyle, pants size) every couple years to be happy. No, it doesn’t fix me… but it does get me out of whatever rut I was in and challenge me to try something new.
      I will be flying out of BKK on my way back to the States, but I’m not sure if I’ll be stopping over. I will keep you updated! It would be lovely to meet up!

  18. On January 5, 2011 at 3:20 am Connie said:

    This is a wonderful post! I really loved reading it and finding similarities in the way I feel about traveling as well! Great photos too! =)
    Connie recently posted..Montage Monday- Cancun

  19. On January 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm Skott and Shawna said:

    Sally – holy crap have we ever been missing out…I just found your blog recommended by Mr.Phil, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Okay, well, that part might be stretching it a bit, but…your writing style is hilarious! I am at work right now, giggling as I read, and am getting strange glances from all my cube buddies…I absolutely DO have some catching up to do…

    Happy New Year!

    • On January 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm Skott and Shawna said:

      PS. Shawna has just informed me that, much to my dismay, Sudukos are not sexier than blogging….apparently neither is Scrabble…wow…that one cut deep.

    • On January 6, 2011 at 3:21 am Sally said:

      I’m glad you enjoyed my blog! I’m especially glad you enjoyed it at work… I’m all about sticking it to The Man, blog-style. As for suduko, Shawna may have a point. Plus, I’m not very good at math. But I am pretty good at those computer trivia games they have at bars. That’s sexier, right? Because it includes bars!

  20. On January 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm Andrew said:

    Another very clever post. Love reading your stuff Sally. Looking forward to China stories. See if you can find the vending machine that sells live crabs!!
    Andrew recently posted..Fun with Translation

    • On January 6, 2011 at 3:22 am Sally said:

      I think I will have to find the vending machine that sells whiskey prior to finding the vending machine that sells live crabs… so as I can be drunk enough to convince myself into buying a live crab from a vending machine (because, hey, if you’re going to go through the trouble of finding the machine, you might as well use it!).

  21. On January 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm Andi said:

    My gosh what an incredible year you’ve had my friend, wow!!! Happy 2011! I know you don’t do lists, but I really liked this post. You should do more. Here’s to being concise! 😉
    Andi recently posted..Happy New Year!!!

    • On January 6, 2011 at 3:24 am Sally said:

      Well, I wasn’t exactly concise (in fact, I ended up with more word than usual!). But, I am thinking I could branch out and do more lists. I’d just have to figure out what these lists will be of… cookies?

  22. On January 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm jade said:

    Great recap- and I made blog resolutions this year, too. So- I guess I’m a huge dork with you! Happy 2011!
    jade recently posted..A Steamy Time at Iceland’s Geysirs

    • On January 6, 2011 at 3:26 am Sally said:

      Yay for dorks! I found the blog resolutions were so much easier than any other resolutions (“lose 10 pounds,” “try not to hemorrhage money,” “figure out what to do with your life,” etc). Especially because many of my blog resolutions are in regards to readership and publicity and the like and involve fun things like sitting on Twitter all day (Unfortunately, this won’t help the lose-10-pounds resolution… but maybe I can get a treadmill with Twitter embedded in the screen?).

  23. On January 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm Anita said:

    Ant-Killing chalk! Loved this post, as I do all your posts…though the pictures did add a little something! Hope you don’t get snowed-in in Buffalo and looking forward to your adventures in China, 2011.
    Anita recently posted..What Life Is Really Like for the Staff of a Cruise Ship

    • On January 6, 2011 at 3:28 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Anita! I am a bit worried about getting snowed in. When I left for Japan 4 years ago, it was in February and there was tons of snow. My dad’s car got stuck in the driveway, and I almost didn’t make it to the airport!

  24. On January 6, 2011 at 6:18 am ~j~ said:

    Admit it! You’re just going back to the States to get pants that fit 🙂

    I’m a first time visitor to your blog… and simply loved reading this post. Will come back for sure.

    Good luck with your travels.

    • On January 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm Sally said:

      Yes, yes I am. Although I’m a bit worried the pants that I own won’t fit & I can’t afford any new ones. Alas. I think I’ll just be wearing my sarong around Buffalo.

  25. On January 6, 2011 at 6:53 am Ranti said:

    awesome post!!! love it..

  26. On January 6, 2011 at 11:43 am Jayne said:

    Not sure how I have never found your site before but am jolly glad I have discovered it now. Love your honesty – it’s pretty inspiring. Look forward to more long-winded stuff from yourself 🙂

  27. On January 7, 2011 at 6:59 am Zablon Mukuba said:

    you learnt a lot in the last year and you taught me a lot also

  28. On January 7, 2011 at 9:58 am Lorna - the roamantics said:

    me likey the new unbrave girl with photos and sign posts sally! but have to confess that for a minute my heart leapt before i got to the “read more” button and i thought it was THAT concise- ha ha. i was feeling short-changed, so good on you for delivering the words.
    in all seriousness, what a year you’ve had! incredible. and i really appreciate your honesty. really bold and admirable. and of course, as always, wrapped up in a hoot-inducing package. love it 🙂
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted..Squatting in Sihanoukville- Cambodia

  29. On January 8, 2011 at 1:13 am Ali said:

    You are hilarious! There aren’t many blogs that can keep people (me?) interested when the posts are really long, but you keep yours so entertaining, I find myself wanting to read even more. I love that your top 10 list stopped at 8, cracked me up. I can totally relate about thinking travel will fix everything when it won’t, but it’s not going to stop me from hopping on a plane. I’m really glad Andy (GroundedTraveler) got me reading your blog, it’s great!
    Ali recently posted..A Love Letter to Prague

    • On January 8, 2011 at 1:59 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Ali! Glad you enjoyed the post. And, yes, travel won’t fix us, but that can’t stop us from trying! I swear, even though I KNOW moving halfway around the world won’t make my life perfect, I still do it… and then go, “Hey, why’s my life not perfect yet? I moved halfway around the world? Sheez, what do I need to do???”

  30. On January 8, 2011 at 7:43 am Rebecca said:

    Ha ha, really enjoyed this post. All the best for a concise, fun 2011!

  31. On January 10, 2011 at 6:47 am choi kum fook said:

    Hola! Miss Sally! Thanks for your APPRECIATION and ADMIRATION! It was just responsibility for me to look after you during working so hard at the farm. Actually, i must again thank you very much for the contribution on working and friendship as well. Miss sally, you are my B. F. F., I miss you!
    I enjoy reading your posts, giving 100%, supporting in writing the post! The best, the most attractive, the most interesting blog I have not read before!
    I think you have learnt and experienced a lot in ten month in traveling in Asia. Dump away the awful things in the past, try to change a new life in 2011. Why worry!? Always remember, “Think out of the box, Learn out of the door”!
    Happy coming Chinese New Year!!! Ha! Ha!

  32. On January 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm Akila said:

    Sally, I just discovered your blog and really like it! Great writing. And, as a fellow blatherer, to heck with being concise. And, I’m totally with you on missing Japan. We were only there for a month but we still really miss it. It’s an amazing country . . . though I don’t think I’ll ever like the smell of tatami mats.

  33. On January 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm travelpology said:

    Very truthful and heartfelt post! Thanks for sharing your year!
    travelpology recently posted..SO YOU WANNA GO TO THE ROSE PARADE

  34. On January 13, 2011 at 12:59 am Erica at ExOfficio said:

    Love your reflections. Your comments about your time in Thailand particularly hit home for me as I’ve had similar experiences where I would’ve said no had I known what was involved/what would happen, but I’m glad I had those experiences as they made me the person I am today.

  35. On January 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm Tracy said:

    I still suffer from chronic bouts of depression.

    I am so independent that I border on becoming a hermit. I can easily hole myself up in my apartment or guesthouse for days without talking to a single soul.

    I will never be a morning person.

    I’m not very good at that whole self-restraint thing.

    I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.

    Dear God, you’re me. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to realize that.

    Seriously, I’ve been stewing on this RTW travel idea for a couple of years now, and recently my friend Joel has gone out and DONE exactly what I’ve always said I was going to do, only apparently he wakes up in the morning and thinks “Hmm, it’s a nice day here in Greenland, but I’d like to go to Guam,” and so he bicycles the 3984089308 miles to get there, over the ocean floor if necessary. Meanwhile if I have to carry my bag more than a block I’ll take a taxi. (Okay not really.) And hence I see one more example (and believe me, I see them everywhere I look) that only brave, plucky, morning people deserve the travel the world. When I spend one whole day in my Paris hotel room eating Toblerones and looking out the window in between naps I’m a big loser who’s wasting a one-in-a-lifetime travel day (never mind that 1) it’s my third trip there, so clearly once-in-a-lifetime doesn’t count and 2) I traveled there by myself on my own dime, I’m exploring every other day and on my way to new places this trip (Amsterdam), my French is improving by leaps and bounds every time I open my mouth, etc.

    So I’m not going to say you’re my inspiration but I sincerely adore that you’ve put yourself out there as unbrave for the rest of us unbrave depressives that slog through the world a little differently but don’t want to be left behind. And add one more bullet point (that I bet you’ve heard often) to things that seem to be true about both of us: we’re way too hard on ourselves. ::give you cookies::

    • On January 15, 2011 at 3:08 am Sally said:

      I met Joel when he was here in Chiang Mai. That man did more in the week that he was here than I’ve done in the 3 months that I’ve been here. He was up at the crack of dawn, petting tigers and stuff. I, uhh, caught up on some episodes of Law & Order: SVU that week.
      While I refuse to be your inspiration, I’m more than happy to serve as reassurance and encouragement: we are out there. Other non-morning people who sometimes need to spend the entire day locked up eating chocolate…. and maybe the next day after that. Maybe we travel slower than the rest of the pack but we will get there eventually… if only we can make our minds to decide where we’re going.

  36. On January 17, 2011 at 2:21 am Tracy said:

    🙂 Just out of curiosity, does anybody ever leave Chiang Mai, really? Are there actually any Thai there now or all just travel bloggers, lol? (Joel stayed a while and is talking about going back there to “retire” in a year or two.) The place just sounds like a spider web that traps people with its seductive charms and never lets them go! I mean, I totally want to pet tigers and ride elephants but I’m afraid that after I get there the choice of whether to stay or leave will be out of my hands.

  37. On February 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm Theresa said:

    I love the list and your hilarious honesty. I think the last one is particularly true. It seems that very often people expect that simply by picking up and traveling everything that is wrong in their life will suddenly become right. Travel does change you in some ways, and you can certainly gain perspective or come to better understand what you like and what you don’t, but in the end, you’re still you, maybe just a different version, and whatever issues you have will still have to be dealt with in the end. I guess the hope it that travel makes us better equipped in the end to look at our lives and make decisions and act.
    Theresa recently posted..What Skiing Taught Me About Travel

    • On February 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, and it’s funny… as much as I know travel won’t fix me, it doesn’t stop me from hoping every time I travel that THIS time it’s going to totally fix my life. Life lessons are not my friends. 🙂

  38. On August 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm Piotr said:

    Congratulations writing on a great post!

    Number 8 “Travel may change your life. But it won’t fix your life. Or you.” rings so true.

  39. On July 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm The Wonders Of Wandering said:

    Sally, I LOVE your blog. I like to ramble myself 🙂 often times with friends I forget what we were even talking about becasue we get so off corse…or if we were talking about anything important at all for that matter, we often cant remember. Ha! So…. oh yes, I remember I have nominated you for a blog photo contest!! I recently started a blog about my travels through Costa Rica, living as an expat for over a year, Volunteering at a sloth sanctuary this September, and volunteering in Nicaragua in October. The purpose of my blog is to share my story. Mainly with friends and family back home, also because I think I have some pretty cool photos and stories that might be interesting to others. I recently wrote a post for a photo contest called Capture the Colour photo contest at http://www.travelsupermarket.com/c/holidays/capture-the-colour/. Part of the contest is to nominate 5 other blogs, and guess what…TAG your it! Check out my entry on my site http://www.thewondersofwandering.com/capture-the-color-photo-blog-my-adventures-through-color/


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