Why I Travel: 5 Reasons To Get Me Back on the Plane Again

February 4, 2011

Shortly after arriving home in Buffalo, NY, two and a half weeks ago, I visited the hair salon.

It had been more than six months since my last haircut – a dire affair conducted at a mall salon in Penang, Malaysia. The stylist, a young Chinese-Malaysian girl who looked all of twelve years old, had approached my naturally curly hair as one might approach a wild boar (should one have the pleasure of coming across a wild boar… while at work… at a hair salon) – with the scissors angled defensively at my head and a diffuser held in front of her as a kind of shield.

The end result was a hairstyle that would have looked right at home in, say, a pom-pom factory or maybe a Pomeranian farm… but looked a bit misplaced on top of a human head. While I was leaving the salon – my hair ballooning out around my face in a way that suggested I had recently been electrocuted — the young stylist yelled out after me that I might want to pick up a nice hair clip or maybe a headband on my way home. (I was thinking something more along the lines of a ninja hood, but I respected her ability to admit defeat.)

As my stylist here in Buffalo snipped and clipped and scrunched my hair (and didn’t once get the look in her eye that I had come to recognize in the eyes of many a hairdresser in Asia when confronted with my curly hair – a look that says “Oh God. What is that?”), I recounted the tale of my last haircut.

This, of course, involved my having to explain that I had spent the last few years living and traveling in Asia.

“Why?” she asked.

“Why what?” I responded.

“Why do you do that?” she wanted to know.

I didn’t know what to say.

I was tempted to just say something flippant like, “Why not?” and then move on to the good part of the story – the headband part. (Sheez, didn’t this woman know that I was in the middle of a story, here?)

But, the fact is, she had a pretty good question.

Why do I travel? Why do I live abroad?

After the last couple weeks of being back in the States, I’ve been wondering this question myself… like a lot.

Asia is great and all.

But, man, home is pretty darn great, too.

If Asia and home were to have a Which One is More Awesome War right now, I’d be putting my money on home.

You see, Asia has lots of cool things like friendly people, interesting cultures, beautiful nature, millions of kinds of dumplings and fruit-flavored Pringles.

But home has:

Home-baked cookies!

Home-made pie!

Buffalo chicken wings!

Tacos!

And Pretzel M&Ms! (I didn’t even know these things existed until I came home this time. Now, I’m starting to wonder how my life had any meaning before.)

Home has stores that sell pants in my size — which, frankly, is bigger than I remember it being last time I was here. (But it’s common to gain ten to fifteen pounds while crossing the International Date Line, right?)

Home also has cable television and lots of fantastic new reality TV shows. (I am happy to report I have finally seen an episode of Jersey Shore so I can understand what all the fuss is about… okay, maybe not understand. But, ummm, at least, I know who Snooki is now.)

Home has couches.

Home has cute haircuts.

Home has men who flirt with me — like on purpose. (Although I’m slow at these kind things and don’t realize that men are flirting with me until after I’ve done something to make them stop flirting with me – like fallen off my bar stool or challenged them to a thumb war.)

Oh, yeah, and home has my family and friends and all those good things.

Home has really got it going on right now.

So why would I ever leave this?

In fact, I’ve been wondering if I really do want to leave home — at least so soon. In a week and a half, I’m supposed to board a plane for China to start a new job teaching English at a university near Shanghai.

I’m really looking forward to going to China, as it will be my first time there. I’m even looking forward to going back to work again — and not just because of the paycheck. (Okay, so the paycheck thing is pretty awesome).

But I’m also really kind of enjoying Pretzel M&Ms and hanging out with family at the moment. And I’m looking forward to the Season Finale of Top Chef (which I will, unfortunately, miss seeing as the uncaring executives at Bravo have so rudely scheduled the finale for after the time I leave).

But, I will get on that plane.

I promise.

I just need a little push… a little reminder, if you will, of all the reasons why I travel and live abroad.

So, here they are:

1. I get paid to do it.

Don’t get too excited.

I have yet to figure out how I can get Nabisco to fund my current Oreo-fueled Asian adventure. (Dear Nabisco Executives – If you are reading this, I’d like to let you know that I’m a big fan of your products. In fact, should the old adage be true that “you are what you eat,” I practically am your product. Please send me money. And cookies. And more pants.)

Until I have secured snack food company funding, I do have this pretty sweet gig as an English teacher (or, ahem, relapsed English teacher).  Not only are there more job opportunities for me abroad, but usually these job opportunities include perks that teaching jobs in the States would not – like free or subsidized housing, airfare to and from my country of residence and paid vacation time. Plus, I can get away with making the students dance the “Hokey Pokey” during their Academic Writing Class and claim that it is a valuable lesson on American culture.

It’s a pretty sweet gig, really.

(Until your students complain in their semester-end evaluations that the Writing Class had “too much dancing”… and then another student sprains an ankle while you were supposed to be reviewing five-paragraph essays… and administration starts asking a few too many questions.)

2. It gives me something to write about.

You may not know this, but I used to consider myself something of writer back in the day. I even got my undergraduate degree in literature and creative writing, so that means I learned a thing or two about how to write stuff. (Now, I consider myself a blogger – which is almost like being a writer but means I can publish my writing myself… whether it really deserves to be published or not.)

One of the things I learned back in my hey-day of college creative writing classes was that you should “write what you know.”

So what did I write about?

Dead babies.

And circus clowns, arsonists, Elvis impersonators, beauty pageant contestants, alien abductees and, ummm, Guinness Book of World Record holders.

Do I know any dead babies or circus clowns or arsonists or Elvis impersonators or beauty pageant contestants or alien abductees or Roy C. Sullivan, the man who is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the person struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being (Seven times, people! And they say lightning doesn’t strike twice! Ha!)?

Nope.

But they all made for pretty interesting stories. (And made for comments from my classmates like “Well, that was… umm… bizarre” during writing workshop days.)

The problem with writing about stuff you have no clue about is that, well, there’s a limit to how long you can write about it — unless you have a really active imagination or, you know, you’re willing to do research.

So instead of writing dead baby stories and poems about circus clowns, after graduating from college, I started to write about something I actually knew about: ME!

Unfortunately, I don’t serve as the best writing inspiration – I don’t date much or do much or even get out much.

The only way I become an even remotely interesting subject to write about is when I move abroad. Sure, I spend a lot of time watching crappy TV and eating cookies –- but I do it while living in Asia! (Oooh, ahhh. Exciting, right? Much more interesting than circus clowns, huh? Okay, maybe not…)

3. It helps me appreciate home more.

Sure, I’m really enjoying eating Pretzel M&Ms now, but I’m sure if I had them available to me everyday, I’d get bored. (What? What am I even talking about? Bored of M&Ms with little bits of salty, crunchy pretzels inside? Impossible! But, whatever, you get the point, right? Ummm, wait, what was my point?)

Every time I return to the United States after being abroad, I’m charmed by all those things you don’t really notice while living in this country — the conversations in English, the comfort of being surrounded by friends and family, the snack products. (Okay, so I do notice the snack products while I live here… but, again, I had a point… now what was it?).

Distance does make the heart grow fonder… even of those things you weren’t even that fond of in the first place. When I left Buffalo four years ago in the middle of a freezing February, I vowed to never return in the winter. I was sick of the snowstorms. I was sick of ice. I was sick of having to wear snow boots well into March (and I’m not talking cute fashion boots but the big, clunky, puffy ones that make you look like you’re about to walk on the moon or steer a dog sled or something).

Yet, here I am, in February and it’s pretty freezing, right now. And, man, are my boots ever ugly. But, I’m loving it — especially all the hot chocolate! (Goes great with Pretzel M&Ms! Yes, I’m a woman obsessed.)

4. It’s in the stars.

Not to get all New Agey, mumboey jumboey on you, but I was actually born to travel!

You see, I recently asked a friend’s astrologer boyfriend to read my astrological chart, and it turns out that “the Ruler of my Ascendant is in the Ninth House — the House of Travel.”

You know what that means, people?

Nope, neither do I!

But it sounds pretty cool, right? And, hey, this Ascendant Ruler Guy sounds serious – so if he’s telling me to get out there and travel, then who am I to argue with the dude?

And, in case your wondering, my astrological charts also say: I’m a born leader (uh huh!), I’m easily likeable (yup!), I’m an intellectual (check!), and I have absolutely no Venus action and no hope for a love life (Say what? Stupid astrological mumbo jumbo! Obviously this stuff can’t be right — aside from all that travel stuff and that stuff about me being a super likeable, smart, Potential World Leader Person!)

5. It’s just what I do.

When I was a kid, I assumed that when I grew up I would find a job, get married, buy a house and have kids.

That’s just what people do, right?

When you get a job or get married or buy a house or have kids, nobody asks you “Why?”

But, when you don’t do those things people have a tendency to ask questions.

In the past ten years I have been asked a lot of questions like this: “Why aren’t you married?”, “Why don’t you have kids?”, and “When are you going to settle down?”

And each time I’m asked these questions, I really don’t know how to answer.

(Of course, now I finally have the answer to that pesky “Why aren’t you married?” question. It’s not my fault, people. It’s simply because I have no Venus action! Blame Venus! I do! Surely, this can’t be my fault!)

I’m happy my life has ended up the way it has.

But I don’t know why my life has taken this course.

I don’t know why I travel.

It’s just what I do.

I mean… Why not?

75

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

  1. On February 4, 2011 at 10:55 am Amy said:

    Wait. I’ve only been gone 10 months and they invented pretzel M&Ms since then? And here I thought it was exciting that Thailand had the retro crispy M&Ms that I hadn’t seen at home in years, but clearly pretzel M&Ms would be much better.

    Other than the pretzel M&M discovery (another reason to look forward to going home even if it means work), I love this post for two reasons:

    1. The fact the things you love about home are almost all food related items.
    2. This quote: “Sure, I spend a lot of time watching crappy TV and eating cookies –- but I do it while living in Asia!”

    • On February 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm Sally said:

      Glad you loved the post. But I must mention that I don’t just love food-related items — I also love my couch…. and, umm, crappy TV. I’m well-rounded like that. 🙂
      Have you heard about the Coconut M&Ms yet? Oh, and I saw a commercial for something called a Reese’s Cup Mini — so scared to try those. I have a feeling I would get major addicted. I already have a Pretzel M&M problem — I actually made me Mom drive me to the grocery store at 9 o’clock last night so I could get some in order to finish this blog post (I needed inspiration!).

  2. On February 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm Ali said:

    I really hate when people ask why b/c it’s usually accompanied by that look that says “you are crazy!” Sometimes I do feel like asking them why they picked the life they did. I’m glad you’re getting back on the plane & going back to what you enjoy. Plus I can’t imagine what crazy stories you’ll get from living in China!
    Ali recently posted..How Travel Has Changed My Priorities

    • On February 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm Sally said:

      For the most part, people have been very supportive when they hear what I’ve been up to and just, you know, curious… and, like, “Umm, but WHY?” (but, thankfully, it’s usually not a “Why on Earth would you even do that?” kind of why… which is good). I haven’t gotten too many of the you-must-be-crazy looks since coming home — at least not until I mention working on a rice farm or living alone in the middle of a jungle in Thailand… then people get that “this girl is NOT right” look in their eyes. Which, in all honesty, they may have a point! Ha!

  3. On February 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm Katrina said:

    Yeah, what Amy said about the pretzel M&Ms. I was back in the states in August and saw no such delicacy. Maybe it’s because I was too busy stuffing my face with tacos.

    I have some pretty clear reasons for both enjoying the US and not wanting to live there again, maybe ever. But things change, so who knows? The hubby wants to live in the US for 6 mo. – 1 year at some point. I cringe at the thought of staying there for so long and secretly hope he’ll fall equally in love with one of our future destinations.

    Thanks, as always, for the chuckles. 🙂
    Katrina recently posted..How to drive your Italian lover crazy!

    • On February 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm Sally said:

      I keep on telling everyone how much I’m loving being home & how I wish I had more time here to which they respond, “No you don’t.” (Most of these people can’t believe that I’m actually enjoying winter — but, hey, after 4 years of no winter or really, really mild winters, it’s fun to have snow again!). Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong… but it’s probably for the best that I’m leaving because if I had to be here until the day the novelty of Pretzel M&Ms wore off, that would be a sad, sad day. 🙁

  4. On February 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm ChinaMatt said:

    I love the haircut story. I also have curly hair, and I had some fun with that in China. Every time I went to get my hair cut, I was asked how I made my hair curly. Fortunately, I never had to go look for a hat–I did my best to explain how to just cut my hair and leave the styling (or lack thereof) to me.
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Without a Bang

    • On February 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm Sally said:

      I once told my students in Japan that I woke up early every morning & curled my hair. I thought it was clear that I was joking (I did not in any way resemble a woman who would actually wake up early to do anything related to hair maintenance). They believed me for YEARS. So funny!
      I’m scared about getting my hair cut in China — but, I’m pretty sure it can get worse than that Malaysian hair cut… or can it?

  5. On February 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm Katie said:

    I don’t even travel long-term but I can so relate to the “why” question. I met a friend of a friend for the first time last summer and they had heard I liked to travel. One of the very first things they said to me was “so, I hear you’ve traveled all over Europe. Why?” I was completely dumbfounded – it just comes so naturally to me, it was hard to believe someone was asking me why! I held back the urge to just say “why not?” 🙂
    Katie recently posted..Reflections on Egypt in a Time of Turmoil

    • On February 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm Sally said:

      It’s such a hard question to answer, right? How do you respond? “Ummm, travel is good! Countries… there are a lot of them!”
      But I do have to say I think the “Why aren’t you married question?” is an even bigger stumper. I mean this question has mystified me, too– I mean, who wouldn’t want to marry me?? (Okay, don’t answer that.)

  6. On February 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm Ayngelina said:

    two things

    1) Kraft owns Nabisco and they are located in Terrytown, and they have a social media plan so get on it

    2) I want to see a photo of you hair, own up girl!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Releasing my inner cyborg with the Hare Krishnas

    • On February 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm Sally said:

      I read a story about this guy who got a job as a marketing manager at Krispy Kreme in, like, 4 hours just by tweeting a whole bunch of people that he wanted a job. I think I can do that with Nabisco. I’m ON it.

      Will work on hair photo… unfortunately cute hair cut is currently being ruined by need to wear a big huge winter hat every time I go out. Sheez, Winter, can you let up already? Don’t you know I need to look cute?

  7. On February 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm karen said:

    I loved this post. Well written and chock full of information that I didn’t know (like that there are pretzel m&m’s).

    I have to be honest, I am not a big snack food person so I am going to allot my share for you to enjoy while you are home.

    I thought about teaching English in Korea last year. Any experience there?
    Take care and safe travels!

    • On February 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm Sally said:

      Sweet! I’ve been looking for a reason to eat more than my fair share of snack products (not that I really NEED a reason… but, you know, it’s nice to know I’m eating all this for YOU and not just for ME).
      I haven’t taught in Korea yet, but have plenty of friends who have. I visited Korea and liked it, so, who knows, may have to go there after China. Will research their snack food industry beforehand, though.

  8. On February 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm Theresa said:

    Great post. I love home for many of the same reasons as you, and I do feel that in the end, it will always win, but I also love to travel, and it’s something I simply feel compelled to do. I often feel like me trying to explain my travel bug to friends is like them trying to explain baby fever to me. It’s not that I don’t like babies or don’t maybe want to have one some day but I don’t have this overwhelming desire like they do. For them, it’s the same with travel. Sure they like to go places but they don’t *need* to travel.

    P.S. My dad works for Kraft/Nabisco. I grew up with a closet full of sample packs.
    Theresa recently posted..Budgeting for Your Round-the-World Trip- Coming Home

    • On February 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm Sally said:

      I think that’s really a good analogy. I can understand why people would want kids, even though it’s not something I really want. I’m just going to tell people I have the “country fever.”
      A closet full of sample packs? That sounds like childhood in HEAVEN! You need to get your dad to hook me up!

  9. On February 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm Chichi said:

    I can totally relate with the endless questions about being single and no kids. It’s starting to annoy me. I just might resort to marrying an axe murderer (see post here: http://www.wearesolesisters.com/2011/01/so-i-want-to-marry-axe-murderer.html) to shut them up.

    Another funny post Sally. Always looking forward to your stories about travel…and cookies
    Chichi recently posted..Sagada By The Numbers

    • On February 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm Sally said:

      Nice. I may have to borrow that from you. “Oh, I would be married… but my beloved is in JAIL.” I think that would stop all the questions pretty quickly!

  10. On February 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm Gillian @OneGiantStep said:

    I just mentioned the why question in my last post too. I was at “The Art Of NonConformity” book signing (Chris Guillebeau) and was chatting to other people there…what struck me is that, as we all shared our dreams and hopes and plans for unconventional living, no one asked why…they only asked how. It was a small difference, but it felt good!

    I can also relate to the hair cut. I had a young girl in Vietnam wash my (short) hair 4 times before she got up the courage to put scissors to it!

    Cheers!

  11. On February 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm Mike said:

    Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the entertaining post. I’m a newbie traveler and haven’t really experienced any of this – nobody has asked me why and haven’t missed home yet but you made it fun to read about. I’ll also say the same as Karen, you can have my snack food allotment as well 🙂
    Mike recently posted..Visiting a Tiger Temple

    • On February 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm Sally said:

      Wow, Mike. Thank YOU. Now that I’m eating for three, I’m going to have to step up my game… and maybe go do a little time on the treadmill, too.

  12. On February 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World said:

    #3 It makes you appreciate home — and family. It’s so true. My parents are great but they tend to drive me crazy. So living on the other side of the globe and seeing them once a year makes our time spent together really special.
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..A Mural Fest On A Yogyakarta Alley

  13. On February 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm Sarah said:

    Just for the record… I am super jealous of how well you write…

    Anyway, it’s tough to relate to the way you’re feeling right now as I’m bouncing around excitedly waiting for our departure date to arrive. BUT I can completely understand the feeling of questioning why we do this. What drives us to make life tougher for ourselves by refusing to follow the standard path? It might have something to do with the warm weather, cheap drinks and awesome fellow travellers. But I still find myself questioning it sometimes. Still, I’d rather be questioning my choices than blindly being pushed along with the crowd…
    Sarah recently posted..While I am young- I shall wear purple

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:51 am Sally said:

      Sarah,
      Wahoo! How exciting to be almost on your way! Yes, it is a good life, this traveling one — even if we do have our moments of “what the heck am I doing??”

  14. On February 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm Kim said:

    That was fabulous and hilarious, as always. You are indeed a writer. However, I AM going to challenge you and say that the peanut butter m&ms are actually better than the pretzel m&ms.

  15. On February 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm Katherina said:

    Oh how can I relate to the “why”… when living in an island that, according to most of Europe, “has it all”….. why would I leave it, right?
    Btw I adore the way you write, it’s strange that your friend’s astrologer boyfriend didn’t mention anything about that!
    Katherina recently posted..Aha! Blogging Makes Me Tech-Savvy

  16. On February 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm Theodora said:

    I do hope you make it onto that plane! I’ll be interested when we return to the UK for Christmas to see how it feels, after the buzz and noise and chaos of Asia.
    Theodora recently posted..A Walk in the Rice Fields

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:47 am Sally said:

      Well, still waiting for my visa… so I’ll let you know about that plane!
      I imagine being home for Christmas will be fun. I really didn’t like Christmas in SE Asia — I need it to be at least a little bit cold to feel Christmasy! Wearing a tank top on December 25th just didn’t seem right.

  17. On February 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm Dalene said:

    Boy can I relate on the curly hair issue. After a haircut in Bolivia, hubby’s response was: WOAH! You look like a fluffy Bolivian princess! I did manage, however, to get the best curl styling product there I’ve ever used. I might make a trip back there *just* for that.

    I almost didn’t make it through the whole post because you made me want peanut butter cookies right off the bat! We made a few month pit stop back home this summer and got cozy there too – it was a little hard to leave – but as soon as we touched down in Honduras we knew that we were happier to be away. We’re travelers and there ain’t nothing we can do about it.

    Love the post! Safe travels to China…
    Dalene recently posted..Festival de la Virgen de Guadalupe – Sucre- Bolivia

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:45 am Sally said:

      At least your husband called you a princess! I’m sure he could have used a different choice of words… 🙂
      I’m surprised you got such a bad cut in Bolivia, though. I would think they’d be more used to curly hair… no? I had the best cut of my life in Brazil AND they had the best styling products there, too. I loved that they had products for different types of curls — big curls, tight curls, etc. Would love to go back just to stock up on the leave-in conditioner! Oh yeah, and because it’s BRAZIL!

  18. On February 5, 2011 at 2:04 am Kenan Lucas said:

    When I came back home after my first time living abroad for 6 months, I must say I was, like you, happy to be back. But this lasted for 2 weeks. After which life slipped back into the routine and the mundane and I became somewhat depressed.

    I would think to myself, a month ago I was in a different country, meeting new people, having new experiences. But now I am back home and everything is the same.

    HOWEVER: in a little over 3 weeks I am set to depart the country on a one-way flight to SE Asia. I have no idea how long I will be away for, or know exactly when I will return – if it all! And I am so incredibly excited.
    Kenan Lucas recently posted..First Night In Bustling Tokyo City

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:42 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I’m sure the excitement would wear off after a bit. (Or will it? I mean, will Pretzel M&Ms ever get old?)
      Good luck on your trip! Sounds like a great adventure!

  19. On February 5, 2011 at 4:06 am Tracy said:

    I totally sympathize with you! Reasons why:
    #1 – I too have naturally curly hair that goes crazy in the humid SE Asian weather and I had a tragic haircut in Bangkok that ended with me back at the guest house in tears and my husband jokingly telling me that it will grow back and I could always get a wig 🙁
    #2 – I too needed to buy new pants when I came back to the US
    #3 – Oreos are my go-to bus snack and I always keep a pack in my backpack.
    #4 – I too love Asia but think home is pretty great too. Who doesn’t love a soft bed & an always hot shower with good pressure?

    Anyways, I just wanted to say great post! I enjoyed the story!

  20. On February 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm Liv Gaunt said:

    Your haircut story made me laugh and reminded me of an unfortunate friend’s experience getting her long, straight, blonde hair cut in Barbados one time. Clearly not a hair-type the stylist had any idea of what to do with!
    The ‘why’ question comes up all the time doesn’t it? Most recently for me while spending some time in the UK though. Most of the people I work with at the moment say to me (after finding out about my travel history) “Why are you here?” Clearly Americans are more fond of home than the disloyal Brits!
    Liv Gaunt recently posted..A day in Old Havana

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:38 am Sally said:

      I have gotten a few “Why are you here?” questions from Americans while I’ve been home — but it’s mostly people wondering why on Earth I’d come back to Buffalo to visit in the dead of winter (granted, a really good question… I mean, it’s COLD here!)

  21. On February 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm Shane said:

    Glad I’m not the only one to notice the international date line/waist line connection. Perhaps there’s a research grant to be had there sonmewhere? Not sure we have pretzel M&Ms in the UK but was otherwise pleased to note the great strides made in our absense in the chocalate bar industry.
    Shane recently posted..Photo Feature- St Katherine’s Monastery

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:35 am Sally said:

      Scientists need to get on this thing, stat! I’m sure it has something to do with physics & gravity & a whole bunch of other complicated science-y things (and not, say, the fact that I ate my way through the entire cookie aisle of my local Tesco Lotus in Chiang Mai).

  22. On February 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm Laura said:

    The pretzel M&Ms are news to me! Although I think Asia can rival it with the variety of Pringles it has (even if its not chocolate). I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a cookie manufacturer stumbles across your site and realizes what a great marketing campaign you would run if they hired you!
    Laura recently posted..Montage Monday- Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:32 am Sally said:

      I’m not as crazy about the Pringles flavors as I am about the M&M flavors — I guess I’m more open-minded when it comes to chocolate, not so open-minded when it comes to my snack chips. I’ve tried them all, but I can’t say I ever need to have another shrimp-flavored Pringle again!

  23. On February 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm Kelly said:

    I was actually stumped by a similar question recently, “Why do you live here in China and not in Canada?” And the person who asked it, of all people, a taxi driver.
    I simply stuttered and sputtered until he asked a new question. Running through my head:
    My job? I could get a job in Canada.
    Day to day life? Things would certainly be a lot easier where everyone spoke English and things were familiar.
    The clean air and hygiene? HA!
    Although I know that I love it here and am happy, I just couldn’t come up with an answer that I thought would satisfy him. To think that some people would give anything to move TO Canada (or another western country) yet I have chosen to leave all that, is a pretty humbling and confusing realization.

    Safe travels, and look forward to hearing about your China exploits!
    Kelly recently posted..The Key to a Good Marriage

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:31 am Sally said:

      Yeah, it’s such a hard question to answer, right? Especially when you’re not entirely sure WHY, you just know it’s the right choice for you.
      How do you say “Why not?” in Chinese?

  24. On February 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm Andrew said:

    Reese’s Mini Cups have been around for ages. This is the rent I usually get paid from a friend of mine from Canada when she comes to visit. Reese’s doesn’t have any German presence. Something with them not liking peanut butter here, which is an awful thought I know.

    I like the answer of “why do you choose to NOT travel? I could never live like that.” I do sometimes fall into “I got a job so I am here”, which isn’t exactly correct but close enough to not feel like a liar and not so out of boring that most people stop asking.
    Andrew recently posted..A Trip to Kleve

    • On February 8, 2011 at 1:27 am Sally said:

      Why hasn’t the rest of the world caught on to the wonderfulness of peanut butter & chocolate? Seriously. It’s the same thing in Asia. You could only find Reese’s products in import stores. Once I came across a bag of peanut butter M&Ms in a duty-free shop in Malaysia and I thought I had died & gone to heaven.
      In Japan, they were even wary of the mint-chocolate combo. But yet they seemed to think red beans make for a delicious sweet treat. Why? Why? Why?

  25. On February 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm Patricia GW said:

    I love your sense of humor, and the tone with which you write! You had me laughing at out loud. I can relate so much to the feeling, getting the question “why?” and I’m only just *planning out* traveling rtw! We don’t fit in the square peg people have in their minds, so they are suspicious of any type of life other than the only way they know.
    Patricia GW recently posted..The Power of Ithaka

    • On February 9, 2011 at 4:01 am Sally said:

      Patricia,
      So glad you’re enjoying my blog & having a good laugh!
      I prefer (or hope!) to think that most people aren’t so much suspicious of my actions… just curious. I can understand why they would be curious, and I’m happy to answer their questions (well, I would be happy… if I actually had an answer!). When they start hiding their wallets and children from me, then I’ll know they’ve reached the suspicious stage!
      Best of luck in your planning! When will you be hitting the road?

      • On February 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm Patricia GW said:

        Sally,
        Haha yes, I suppose you’re right. I don’t think it’ll hit that level, you’re safe 🙂
        Thanks for the luck! I’ll start travelling rtw as soon as I graduate university in 2012. I want to teach in Japan, through the JET programme if I can. Do you have any advice?
        In the meantime I’m taking smaller trips during school breaks when I can get vacation time off work. I sit at my desk and dream of being free to explore and experience the world, just like you do. These dreams, from blogs like yours, are what keep me going.
        Patricia GW recently posted..Keep It Simple- DUH!

        • On February 10, 2011 at 3:33 am Sally said:

          I taught with the JET program for 1 year when I first graduated from undergrad (about… ahem… 12 years ago). It is a great program for new, young teachers — very well organized, excellent support system, great social scene. I loved the program & the school I taught with, but wasn’t crazy about my location — I was in a tiny fishing village in the north that got massive snow in the winter. I was also fresh out of college & convinced that I should go back to the States to “start my career” (yeah, after 2 years stuck in an office in DC making hardly any money after my year in Japan, I seriously wondered what I had been thinking!).
          When I returned to Japan, 4 years ago I was hired directly by the university that I was teaching for — so there wasn’t the same kind of support or organized social scene that I had with JET (but, frankly, by then I didn’t really feel I needed it as much). I ended up liking my location a lot better (I lived in Kobe which was much more urban) & staying a lot longer because I enjoyed the area so much and had a lot of friends there.
          If you’re really particular about where you want to live, I wouldn’t suggest JET as they pretty much place teachers where they need them…. and they usually need them in places where people don’t particularly want to go (of course, things might have changed since then!). But if you want a really “authentic” experience (read: living near a rice paddy) and aren’t so particular about where you end up, I would definitely suggest it! Plus, compared to the horror stories I’ve heard from teachers working with private schools, the workload with JET seems to be a lot easier and much more manageable (of course, it depends on your situation).

          • On February 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm Patricia GW said:

            Thanks so much, I appreciate the advice! My majors at university are English and East Asia Studies. I’m concerned that I may not be taken into the program because I did not study teaching. Were there other member of the program with you, that had studied other subjects as well?
            Patricia GW recently posted..Keep It Simple- DUH!

  26. On February 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm Andarin said:

    Hi Sally!

    I just discovered your site through the Gen Y Travel blog carnival, and I must say it’s pretty refreshing! You have great wit in your writing, and I enjoy your transparency.

    Also, I’m going to have to pass a vote to Crispy M&Ms. (you know, the kind with rice inside?) I can’t find them anywhere anymore though. Sad…
    Andarin recently posted..Seattle Quintet Singing “Blue Skies” a-cappella is the Perfect Antidote to Winter

    • On February 9, 2011 at 3:55 am Sally said:

      I do like the Crispy M&Ms too… not my favorite, but they make for a refreshing change (and I’m sure they’re healthy, right? since they are full of rice and all and everyone in Asia will tell you how healthy rice is!). I didn’t realize that the Crispy M&Ms were no longer available in the States — they are all over the place in Thailand (possibly due to the healthy rice!). May I suggest you hitch a ride to Thailand to stock up?

  27. On February 9, 2011 at 9:20 am Rebecca said:

    PRETZEL M&MS???!!! These have not yet made their way to Australia and I’m wondering how I can get my hands on some….
    Rebecca recently posted..Photo of the Week- Bridge Over the River Kwai

  28. On February 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm Margaret said:

    Damn! Pretzel M&Ms? I think I may need to book a flight right now! and just when I was thinking I could beat my Frito obsession next time (Reeses, however, are most definitely a reason to fly… and the pants, of course. Very few human female sized clothes in Chile)
    I just heard from an old high school friend who asked, You live in Chile? What’s THAT all about?
    Um… yeah…

    • On February 10, 2011 at 3:35 am Sally said:

      Oh dear. I had to buy all new pants since I’ve arrived home. So sad. Usually I would be happy about being able to buy pants — but this has not been such a happy occasion seeing as I’m now buying them in a size I really don’t want to be! Oh well, I’m sure once I leave the Pretzel M&Ms behind, I’ll actually manage to go on a diet… or not.

  29. On February 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm Odysseus said:

    Especially liked #5, Sally. I think the “why” always confuses me because even I’m not really sure why. I’d like to have a husband and kids, but I’d also like to travel the world — and the latter seems to be much easier for me to manage than the first, for whatever reason.

    Also, it reminds me of a bad date I once had. I told the guy my dreams of traveling the world (this was before I’d left the states) and he asked me “why.”

    “Just to look at the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China and know they really exist,” I said in dramatic fervor.

    “In that case, you don’t need to go,” he said. “I’ve seen photos. They really exist.” (I kid you not about this conversation.)

    Hmm, on reflection, I’m starting to realize why I never married.

    • On February 10, 2011 at 3:23 am Sally said:

      Ha ha ha! That date story is fantastic! Sometimes I give Asia a hard time because it hasn’t been so good for my love life — but then I remember bad dates like yours that I’ve had and I don’t mind so much…

  30. On February 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm Ken Kaminesky said:

    So how’s the whole Nabisco sponsorship thing progressing? I need some advice for when I approach Ferrari, for a similar type deal. 😉

    And you know, “why not” is a perfect answer to – why do you do what you do? Besides, you do it well, so keep on doing it.
    Ken Kaminesky recently posted..My National Geographic Cover Photo – Notre Dame de Paris

  31. On February 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm Skyfae said:

    Wow, I had no idea pretzel M&M’s existed either! Something to look forward to on my next visit home. I’m excited for you in regards to China…I just may be moving there myself after my contract is up in Taiwan but not sure yet. Good luck and looking forward to your stories!:)
    Skyfae recently posted..Adventures in the Philippines- Port Barton

  32. On February 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm Tawny said:

    This post was right up my metaphorical alley. When I went home for a visit back in August I swooned over all of the food options I had. Cheese! Real cheese… and in so many different varieties! I just found Haribo gummy bears on a weekend trip to Seoul and I had to hide the tears of happiness. As much as I hate to say it, I would still choose traveling over cheese… maybe. Maybe.

  33. On February 14, 2011 at 6:48 am Tracy said:

    This post is hilarious. I have run across the same scenarios, but with a different type of difficult hair, at home costing hundreds of dollars. Now I have a system, a rigid- every stylist will hate me at first- system unless if they do a good job, where they will receive a great tip.

    More importantly, I find it interesting when people have no interest at all to leave home or travel to less touristy places. I understand fear is one of the possible reasons why, but I’m at a loss for other reasons.

    Love your site. Thanks.

    • On February 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm Sally said:

      You’re killing me here! What’s your system? You MUST share! I move to China tomorrow & I need to have some kind of system to ensure that I won’t spend the next year living with a Brilo pad on my head!
      Thanks for stopping by & glad you like my site!

  34. On February 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm Nomadic Matt said:

    I travel, therefore I am.

    Plus, it’s so hard to get good Thai food outside of Thailand…
    Nomadic Matt recently posted..Learning to Go with the Flow

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