I recently found an old journal I kept while backpacking for over a year after I left college. It contained a mixture of handwritten entries, ticket stubs, worn out maps and printed emails. I don’t know if there was any other reason why I kept journals other than the fact that I just liked writing them. I remember the moments I often enjoyed most were siting in an Internet cafe writing long emails to friends back home detailing all I had been up to. I’m glad I did now because as I read through them, I realize just how much I had forgotten.
Below are parts of a long email I sent home. It’s funny reading back on it now ten years later, especially as I had no memory of it until now.
May 13th, 2002
I just thought i`d let you know that I’m still alive! After leaving Cambodia we went back to Bangkok for a little while as we had split with Stephen*. After we met up we traveled down to Kuala Lumpur, it took about 25 hours so we were all a little tired.
Malaysia is a hell of a lot better than anywhere we’ve been so far. It’s a lot cleaner and the people are very friendly. You still get a few places where it’s a bit dodgy. Two nights ago we went out for food and Stephen and I were checking out a restaurant. It looked okay, it was cheap. I wanted to see the kitchen**. As the guy was showing us a curry they were making, a huge rat ran out from behind the cooker and ran across my bare feet! (I was wearing sandals). Not good. The last thing I remember leaving the restaurant was the guy shouting and laughing after us “Hey! Where you from? You don’t have rats in your country too?”
I bought a hammock to use in Bali. When we stopped off at Koh Samui, which is an island on the east coast between Bangkok and Malaysia, I was hopping to use it. It was so hot
I couldn’t find the energy to string it up!***
*My best mate Stephen and I stayed up singing Karaoke in a small seaside village in Cambodia the night before we were to get a boat and train back to Bangkok. The next morning Stephen was so hung over we had to leave him behind and wait for him in Thailand to catch up.
** A habit I got into from being in some very poor areas was to check the kitchen before deciding to eat there or not. It would be a good indication on how you would spend your night, peaceful in bed with a full belly or talking to God on the big white telephone.
***It was the first time in my life I was subjected to heat greater than that produced from a large sweater or radiator. There was a lot of things I couldn’t do because of it, mostly physical activity.