Travelling through developing countries is a whole other world compared to the cushiness that you experience living in a country like Australia. For the last year or so, I have developed habits that I daresay are going to follow me around for a while. Some of the things that I am going to have to relearn when going home are as follows:
- Toilet paper belongs in a toilet, not a rubbish bin
It is fair to say that plumbing here is fairly shit. So shit in fact that if you throw toilet paper in the toilet and clog it up, you’re facing more shit than you could ever dream of. After my very first trip to Asia, I came wandering into the kitchen of my flat with my toilet paper and my housemate asked me what the fuck I was doing. That is a superb question really. After a year and a couple of months of this, it is going to be a hard habit to break.
2. Taking toilet paper with you everywhere you go
Because they bloody well don’t provide it anywhere. And if you’re lucky to get charged for a toilet that actually has paper you can be sure that they will give you four squares and look at you strange because you ask for more. The truth is, if you’re a woman peeing, you need more, sometimes that shit sprays. If you’re a woman on your period, four squares is also definitely not cutting it. And if you are anyone taking a shit, especially diarrhoea, a measly four squares isn’t going to do the job. As such, you find yourself resorting to the following; stealing napkins from restaurants you eat lunch at, or sitting on a hostel toilet with a cardboard roll and rolling that thing full of paper for ten minutes and then trying to sneak it out of the bathroom down your pants so that nobody sees you.
3. Toilets with actual plastic seats
Long gone will be the days of sitting your arse directly on a cold porcelain bowl or trying to squat over it because someone has kindly pissed all over it and hasn’t cleaned it up due to their lack of access to sufficient toilet paper.
4. You can drink water from the tap without having to boil or purify it.
The days of pouring yourself a glass of water from the tap ended long ago. The constant need to think about where you are going to source your water from and how you are going to purify it is a constant thought process. As one that hates constantly buying plastic bottles from shops as it is bad for the environment, planning for water is a constant thought that I will not have to worry about.
5. I do not need to keep and do surgeries on things that are broken
Everything I own is somehow broken. But when you have no money and having new things isn’t a priority, makeshift fixing is high on the list, when in ordinary life you would just throw it away. Surgeries that have been conducted on this trip include:
- Using a hot metal spoon over fire to melt the plastic back together of my neck pillow
- Duct taping around the strap of my backpack to try and hold it together long enough to get me home
- Sewing holes in the crotches of my pants with patches
- Wearing a garbage bag as a poncho because your rain jacket is totalled and no longer waterproof
- Sticky-taping the screen of my iPad together so that the glass doesn’t fall out
- Using stickytape to hold your shoelaces together so that they don’t fall apart
6. Using a telephone.
Broke the awful thing that had no battery life on the kitchen floor of my flat in Colombia….. yeah I don’t need another one of those. These days I function with good old fashioned paper maps and email. WhatsApp? What’s that?
7. Having keys
The current check is passport, wallet, water purifier, lip gloss. Keys don’t register in this because I haven’t had to deal with keys for a very long time. Incorporating them into the daily check is going to be interesting.
8. Sleeping in a room alone
When constantly sharing a room with up to twelve people having privacy is kind of weird. When you finally find yourself in a room alone you start freaking out because, well, where is everyone?
9. Sleeping in a double bed
That and you’re always in a single bed with a shitty mattress and pillow. I don’t know how I am going to survive fluffy doona covers and decent pillows. Life is going to be hard.
10. Not packing your bag everyday
This is a reality. Every single day, you pull shit out of the bag, you put shit back into the bag. You are on constant alert as to where everything you own is and trying to make sure that it is in a safe area where it won’t get mixed up with everyone else’s stuff. Watch out Mum, I’m spreading throughout the house.
11. Wearing nice clothes and doing hair and make up
Enough said. Some weeks, I don’t even look in a mirror. I don’t brush my hair. I never put on make up. I don’t care. All of my clothes have holes in them, are faded, and look like shit. It is going to take a bit of adjustment to get used to normal people clothes and feeling like I belong in them.
12. Not constantly saying goodbye to people
Of the most exciting things on this list, is that I will be able to keep in touch with people I meet. Saying goodbye constantly takes its toll and is something that I do on a daily basis. It makes you somewhat closed to meeting new people because you know that everyone is transient.
Well, five more weeks of this and then life changes. Until then, I better get back to brushing my teeth from the bottle and going to bed in my holey socks! Cheers!