Thursday, July 7, 2011


We're back in Istanbul! We've spent the last 2 weeks doing a big loop around Turkey -- Ephesus, Izmir, Pamukkale, Antalya, and Cappadocia -- and tomorrow is our last day here before we bus to Bulgaria. There isn't much to say about all these places that isn't better said through our pictures, so I'll let them do the talking for me, except to add that we finally have very slight tans! And it only took 10 months of sunlight to accomplish. Yeah, baby. That's how it's done.

We have exactly 5 weeks until we are back in Vancouver. I don't know how this year managed to slip by so quickly, but now that it's nearly over I'm freaking out a bit. It's funny, in the beginning I was pretty nervous about going on this trip, but now I'm even more nervous to come back to real life. We have a ridiculous number of things we need to get done when we get back: find a new place, buy furniture, move into new place, change addresses and phone numbers, go through a year's worth of mail, do taxes, fix insurance and credit card issues, go to the dentist...

But aside from all that, what I'm even more nervous about is the "reverse culture shock" that I think will inevitably occur when we get back. Besides the occasional conversations on facebook, or with other travelers in our hostels, the only person I've talked to in any length in the last year is Ross. I'm slightly worried that I've lost the ability to converse with anyone else. I keep imagining that when we get back, I'm going to become that annoying person whom everyone detests because they keep associating everything to their travels.


Kathy: Man, it's so hot. I hate summer.
Me: This isn't hot! When we were in Cambodia it was so hot that...
Kathy: *Slaps Marina with a fish*

Random person on the bus: Waaaah, I forgot my iPhone at home.
Me: Shut up, motherfucker, and be grateful that you can brush your teeth in the morning with water that won't kill you.
Random person: *Slaps Marina with a fish*

April: Mmmm, I love chicken.
Me: Chicken is good. But did you know they eat guinea pigs in Peru?
April: *Slaps Marina with a fish*

I'm not sure why all these people have fish readily available in these scenarios, but that's pretty much how I think it will go down.

These thoughts have been on my mind a lot because we've had a couple of encounters with North Americans lately where I wasn't sure if they were whiny douchebags, or if my perspective has changed so much that I'M the annoying one.

We had just gotten off of a 9 hour over-night bus ride, and we were all piling onto a free shuttle bus that would take us from the bus station to the center of town 15 minutes away. Suddenly...

Angry North American tourist: THERE AREN'T ANY SEATS LEFT!
Turkish bus attendant: *mumbles something in Turkish*
Angry North American tourist: There are 5 of us! There aren't any seats! HOW IS THIS SUPPOSED TO WORK?!

This goes on for another few minutes. Meanwhile, everyone else is getting more and more irritated because we all just want to GO already.

Me, finally getting fed up enough to speak up: It's called 'standing.' It's a 15 minute bus ride, it's really not a big deal. You want my seat?
Angry North American tourist: No. I mean, I expect this shit in Indonesia, but when you pay 30 dollars for a bus ride, I expect better than this.

The bus attendant then speaks to one of the Turkish women on the bus and somehow convinces her to GET OFF THE BUS so that there would be a seat available for the gringo. Somehow this placates the North Americans enough that the 5 of them are able to shut up and get on the bus. (I still haven't figured out how ONE person getting off the bus solved the issue of seating 5 people, but there you go.)

Holy crap. There are so many things wrong with this picture I don't even know where to begin. How can someone be happy that they forced someone else to get off the bus (who, by the way, also paid $30 for her seat) just so they could sit down for their 15 minute bus ride? And what is all this "I expect this shit in Indonesia" bullshit? In Indonesia they would've pointed to the floor and said, THERE'S YOUR SEAT, buddy. In Indonesia this wouldn't have even been a discussion because there wouldn't have been a free shuttle in the first place. In Indonesia you may not have even gotten a seat on the 9 hour overnight ride, so be grateful you didn't have to stand up for that, you asshole. (There I go being "that person" already.)

Or am I looking at it all wrong? Were they right to get upset at this situation? I honestly don't remember if this is how most people think in North America, or if he was just an outstandingly arrogant person with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. I suspect that it's the latter. I really hope so, or I may not last long in Vancouver before going on a homicidal spree of unprecedented proportions.

Traveling is weird, man.


  1. No, I'd consider that some pretty major entitlement issues. Also, I'll be sure to keep a fish handy.

  2. No. That person was retarded. I have absolutely no logical explanation of how ONE person getting off of the bus, will make FIVE happy. Wtf is really all I have to say.

  3. PS. I've been trying to comment on your blogs for about the last 6 months, and FINALLY I think it's letting me. I have no idea what made it change it's mind. My future students are screwed, I'm going to be that idiotic teacher that can't grasp technology. Shit.

  4. Weird.. Glad you've figured it out now. ;)

  5. 5 weeks?! Wow- this really has flown by. I better start looking for another travel blog to live vicariously through.

    With regard to reverse culture shock, it's hard to prepare for. I think for me the biggest thing is coming home and seeing everything the same... friends in the same jobs, drinking in the same places, talking about the same kind of stuff. For me, it felt like the whole country had been paused while I was away, and that I'd come back somewhat different... though I was a bit younger and did do a bunch more actual growing up while I was away, so your mileage may well vary. There was also a great article I read recently about how big trips like this can be habit forming in a sense- let me dig it up (forgive the title, it's mostly hyperbole):

    At any rate, looking forward to catching up! Enjoy the final stretch :)

  6. Thanks for that article - it was a great read. It pretty perfectly summarizes what it feels like to travel for a long time. It's such a personal and subjective experience that it does get lonely, even when traveling with a partner and even when constantly meeting new people. Hopefully my life won't be destroyed TOO much by this traveling habit... :)