It is early morning i Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. I Have been listening to the wildlife outside givit the morning performance. Birds singing. The evening performance is more diverse since it also includes dogs, monkeys and frogs. It’s calming. Soothing.
Low season here means not many tourists and night temperatures. It is hot, humid and sticky. Everyone is slowing down their pace. And so have I.
Being on tho road for the past five months and for the past two constantly moving has taken its toll. I ran out of energy. My body was ok but my mind was in a state of overload. Yesterday responded to a letter received one month ago. Yes, late response, I know. But that’s how it is when there are constantly new impressions knocking on your minds door. At the end of the day you just need to switch off. Rest your brain.
Anyway, yesterday I sat down and wrote my friend a letter. Before hitting the send button I read it and realised that I had only written about the hardship with solotraveling for a longer period of time. Because there are hardships. It is hard work traveling for a longer period of time. People I have met and some friends told me how nice it must be for me to be on such a long vacation. It is like telling a person with 200 days a year traveling on business how lucky he or she is to get to see so many places. In reality they most probably saw the airport, a conference and a hotel room.
Traveling for a longer period of time is also hard work but I still wouldn’t want to miss out on traveling. The places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met make up for all the inconveniences that might occur.
But let me tell you about some of the hard things with being single female traveler. And we all have to bare in mind that ignorance or despair or poverty make people behave in a sometimes drastic way.
- Walking on the sidewalk and every second meter being asked if I need a taxi. Happened in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
- Walking by the Ganga river getting these questions every 10 meters. Do you want a boat? No, thank you. Do you want marijuana? No, thank you. Do you want heroin? No, thank you. Happened in Varanasi, India.
- Constantly valuing if a driver really wants to help you find the way or if they just want to charge you more because you’re white and therefor are presumed to be rich. Happened in most places.
- Constantly having to listen to young men telling me how interesting and beautiful I am and that they want to marry me. Or do I have a friend who would consider marrying them? Happended i most places
- Constantly being valued by both men and women because I am a single female traveler. No husband? Happened in most places.
- Constantly been seen as a walking wallet filled with unlimited amount of money. Happened in most places.
- Staying at hostels you meet a lot of people. And you talk to each other. Have conversations. Being polite. Male western middle aged men tend to always think that you’re flirting with them and getting pissed with me when I tell them I’m not on a mission of finding a husband. White middle aged men don’t take a refusal easily. Some get truly offended and hostile when not shown the admiration they think is their human right. Happened in most places.
- I was asked if I would be interested to work in a school teaching English. Yes, I was. So I went there, met the pupils, looked at the premises. Afterwords we went for a meal and talked about it. No, no, we don’t have to talk about a contract. You can stay for as long as you like I was told. And if there is anything you need you just tell me. Massage or sex. See it as a way of me showing hospitality. If you prefer a young man I will provide you with one. And you can’t be sure you will get the kissing and the licking. I know women need that. Not telling you where this happened.
- Constantly having to make sure your things are not stolen. Happens everywhere.
- Constantly being stared at from top to bottom. Mind you, I am always very particular about following local customs. And no, it’s not in that kind curious way. That I experienced in Myanmar. People being interested. That’s something else. Happened in most places.
- Constantly being on your guard. Even though I live by the theses that every person is good until I’m proven wrong I’m not the gullible type. Being present and sensitive to every situation is a must when traveling on your own.
A friend of mine told me of some traveling she did 25 years ago. When I go back home I will park myself in her couch with a glass of red wine and listen to her stories. In a way it is probably easier traveling today. So many do and everything is so well organised for travellers. But I presume meeting locals back then was different.
And this is what makes me going and what makes traveling so interesting. Meeting locals, or co-travelers for that matter, and listening to their stories. Their life stories.
The world is an amazing place because it is inhabited by amazing people.
But for now I’ll just enjoy having a rest and stay at one place. Going shopping groceries every day. Saying hello when I pass the same house every day. That makes people relax, get curious and that’s when the nice conversations starts. It’s another sort of traveling which I enjoy very much.