May 29, 2007

Day 106 :: Lazy in Pokhara

Day 106 - Pokhara

While you may never believe it, or never want to believe it, backpacking can get very tiring.

The life of a long-term backpacker primarily consists of a few simple activities. The first is taking the role of a tourist, or more to the point, seeing stuff. Every country in the world has a laundry list of sites to see. And it seems to make no difference if the site is worth visiting, like the killing fields perhaps, as long as one is in a country, the site feels mandatory. Essentially, the main reason we travel the world is simply to have a look around the place.

The second activity enjoyed by backpackers is that of relaxing. While we may spend a few hours in a canoe exploring a reef, the rest of the day is spent doing nothing in particular. You'd be amazed at the amount of restaurants showing nightly movies, no frills guesthouses offering cable tv "with over 100 channels" and countless bookstores selling popular novels at exhorbitant prices, just because they can. When you have a while and no particular place to be, laying low becomes part of your existance.

For 99 days, we fell into the former backpacker life. If there was something to see, we saw it. We left our mark at every museum, monument, temple, ruin and other sites of natural beauty. We scoffed at other travelers who watched movies and spent days on end going nowhere. I mean, we're in the middle of China's most epic countryside and people are watching soccer? For 99 days, we were on the go.

It took 99 days to realize that constantly moving was taking its toll on us. In our pursuit of packing in as much as each visa would allow us, we found ourselves getting more and more tired. We racked up a staggering 390 hours on public transport. That's sixteen full days spent in uncomfortable buses riding on uncomfortable roads. Sites began losing their glory and we began losing our wonderment. So, on arriving in the lakeside village of Pokhara, we decided that if we were going to make it for the long haul, we better slow down. Considerably.

Every morning I get up and watch the NBA playoffs or a baseball game. We eat three meals a day, each lasting as long as we desire. Every afternoon we read, go on-line, watch the news and take naps. At night, we pick out a restaurant purely based on what movie it's showing. For the past seven days, we have left our lakeside village one time. Here we are in the middle of Nepal, surrounded by 27,000 foot mountains, and we're laying in our room watching a dubbed over Mission Cleopatra. And so, much like in our normal lives back home, we're learning to find our rhythym.

I'm just glad it happens to be at the same time we have ESPN.


Anonymous said...

At first read, this post confounded and somewhat irked me: "what I wouldn't GIVE to have the opportunity to see these places, and they're wasting theirs watching ESPN?" Upon further examination, though, I saw this exploration as just another part of the journey. After all, an "authentic" experience of Holland, Michigan, USA, wouldn't necesarilly include Windmill Island, Dutch Village, Veldheers, or Kollen Park...

Keep 'em coming... I love reading your blogs. Are you keeping other journals as well?

Abby quiz said...

aww so jellous.... not of the 16 days by bus, but of the relaxing in nepal... it sounds awesome!

Dennis Jackson said...

Josh & Kari,

This was an incredible affirmation of what I most desire to experience while on Sabbatical. Mom & I ditched the "Tour of Italy" for two weeks on the island of Hvar, Croatia where we really have no where to go except to stroll and enjoy beauty.

I deeply want to slow the rhythm - thanks for writing and setting the pace.

I love you guys!


pk said...

Full of insight. I think it is hard to fully understand this reality until you've done it yourself. You truly do need vacations from the vacation...ha.

Keith Drury said...

Yep, amen. Sometimes wanderers can feel obligated to "see things" for others, since other live their life through travelers... you are at the point of realizing that "vacation is work too" like retired people discover. 100 days is the point at which PCT and AT hikers often decide to go home. They say "I'm getting bored." Others can't believe it--they say "With all those beautiful scenes how can you be bored?"

But anything we do can be routine. Everything.

Now, in spite of the above, I need you to go climb one of those icy mountains for me ;-)

Have a great rest pal. As PK says, "take a vacation from vacation." If you "accomplish nothing" for a few weeks, that may be the best accomplishment of all!

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