On Heartache and Bowing and Squat Toilets…Oh My

Wow.  I’m sitting in the airport in Los Angeles, waiting on my connecting flight to Las Vegas.  This is it.  My trip is over.  I’ll be honest.  I thought I would be happy to land on U.S. soil.  I thought I would instantly feel at home.  Instead, I stood at the baggage claim at customs, ready to transfer my baggage from international to national status (aka: the U.S. doesn’t trust security in other countries and rechecks everything upon arrival), and I nearly burst into tears.

Although I missed so many creature comforts of home, I sort of loved Southeast Asia.  It was easy.  Everything was easy.  Even without speaking the language, I got used to breaking down my sentences to the fewest words possible and making ridiculous gestures to get people to understand.  I got used to sitting down at restaurants and ordering three-course meals while never paying more than five bucks.  Actually, I got used to spending a dollar for lunch if I only felt like having a bowl of yummy soup or a sandwich.  I got used to stopping in for hour long massages without considering the cost.  And I got used to running off to a new locale each time I decided I was done with the last.  And meeting other travelers.  And talking with locals because I was often alone and thus more approachable.  Instead of asking for the bathroom or the restroom, I learned to ask where the toilet is.  Because that’s one word everyone understands in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos – toilet.  I even came to appreciate squat toilets in public because at least if the bathroom was gross, squat toilets allow you not to touch anything (more on that later).  I’m now in the habit of bowing slightly to say thank you, and I think twice before shaking someone’s hand (not because it’s uncomfortable; simply because it wasn’t the custom).

And now I’m home (well, almost).  And it feels odd.

And I’ve been struggling with whether or not to include this piece of the story in my blogging, but I’ve decided I can’t tell the story of Southeast Asia without telling the whole story.  So here it is: in the midst of all the crazy travel and new experiences and well, awesomeness — I also got my heart broken.  So that adds a whole other element.

So much to tell.  I don’t even know where to start.  But I’ve got all the stories – on paper, in computer files, online.  And I will be sharing them with you over the next few weeks.  I can’t wait to catch up with you all!


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