Elephants with Attitude, Ringworm, and Tourist Traps: Backpacking Blonde and Blistered Style

Sunrise from 30,000 feet
Sunrise from 30,000 feet

My boyfriend and I recently returned from our first major trip together. We traveled to Thailand, Japan, and Maui over the course of 36 days.  Before that, we had been on multi-day camping trips, long-weekend getaways, and a 7 day stay in Cuba at an all-inclusive.  These experiences went so well, we decided to take on a bigger adventure.  The fact that we had never spent longer than a week together in our entire year and a half relationship didn’t seem to bother either of us.  Well, it may have worried us a little, but not enough to cancel the trip.  We both love a good challenge.

Chiang Mai Temple, Thailand
Chiang Mai Temple, Thailand

While we were still in the planning stages of this epic journey, I was dreaming it would be a whirlwind, exotic adventure full of romantic dinners on the beach in Thailand, perfect sunsets in Hawaii, and sensually feeding each other sushi via chopsticks in Tokyo.  I read blogs about other couples travelling together and it looked magical.  They took lovey-dovey selfies, looked photo shoot ready all the time, and never disagreed on anything.  Instead, we were both given a crash course on how to live with another person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over a month. The reality that backpacking is way different than vacationing at a resort was sharp and real.

The two of us learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and the importance of communication and cooperation while travelling as a unit.  We made a lot of rookie mistakes since neither of us had ever traveled like this on our own before. I had previously backpacked in Ecuador a year before with a friend, but she was a seasoned traveler and knew exactly what and what not to do.  She took the lead most of the time so our travels were pretty easy.  With J and I though, we learned the hard way, and even then it took a couple tries to get it right.

Sumo Wrestler Training, Tokyo
Sumo Wrestler Training, Tokyo

A person can read all the guidebooks in the world, but they only tell you half the story.  Until you’re sweating your ass off, carrying your backpack in the heat of the Thai sun, lost in a city you’ve never been to, in a country where you don’t speak the language, you have no idea how you’re going to react. Nothing can prepare you for situations like that and honestly, that’s why people do it.  Traveling allows you to push yourself beyond your limits and really tests what you’re made of.  In our case this was true of us as individuals and as a couple.

It's not a selfie but we clean up well.
It’s not a selfie but it will do.

As I begin the slow, and painful process of sifting through over 2500 photos taken on the trip, I feel excited to relive the memories of that amazing experience.  Over the next little while, I will be selecting the best of the best and writing the stories to go along with them.  From the elephant with attitude, the tourist trap called The Floating Market (seriously, why is it recommended in guide books?!), ringworm (it’s not what you think), and a picture perfect Maui wedding (not mine). And I’ll get down to work as soon as I finish watching the many episodes of iZombie I PVR’d while I was gone.  I love this show.

Pretty OK Sunset, Maui
Pretty OK Sunset, Maui

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