I’m in the back of the bus, dreamily looking out of the window, where a blanket of soft white powder has settled on the once green mountain top. My breath is fogging up the ice-cold window. In my head, hundreds of thoughts are going around like a carousel that just can’t stop turning. Thoughts that are mainly about all of the adventures I have embarked upon while traveling. My thoughts continue, as if my mind has no control over them, when suddenly I feel a foot jabbing in my leg. It is the astray foot of a fellow passenger.
I’m not sitting in a overcrowded train in India, where chickens jump on your lap and you as a person get the same treatment as the cattle that rides along. Nor am I in a Thai minivan that an over-enthusiastic driver loaded to the gunnels. Also no Japanese-push-everyting-and-everyone-you-can-see-in-the-metro scenes here. No, I’m currently sitting in a luxurious tour bus in Turkey, where the four rear seats are occupied by just me and one other person.
And yet, there it is. That astray foot. Socks of which I can only imagine that were once white covering it. A fragrance that can not necessarily be described as laundry-fresh. It is the foot … of my little brother.
Socks of which I can only imagine that were once white covering it
My little brother – or “guppy” as I will always affectionately call him – is also a traveler. A backpacker. A bon vivant. An I-only-travel-with-hand-luggage type of traveler. The type that to save half a euro/baht/rupiah or other Tjukitjukistan kind of currency will choose an associated Tjukitjukistan means of transportation.
I often do that too. Not always. Often. The local – cheaper – way of traveling still has a certain je’ne sais quoi to it. That some amount of comfort is surrendered is a necessary evil. If you can call it an evil at all. In any case, it challenges you to take full advantage of your creative abilities. Not to mention your physical ones.
The local – cheaper – way of traveling still has a certain ‘je’ne sais quoi’ to it
Now I have seen a lot of beautiful sleeping structures during my travels. And there are some real gems amongst them. My lovah-lovah who used the shoulder of his a-head-shorter-neighbor – with whom we could not exchange a word because of the language barrier – as a pillow in the Chinese night train from Xi’An to Chengdu (and all I did was feel sorry about how I could not reach for my camera to capture the moment). Indonesian tour guides who spooned each other to stay warm in the icy wind beneath the top of the mighty Merapi volcano ‘because we need to wait an hour for the rest of the group to arrive’ – oh great, that’s why I just ran the lungs out of my body like an Eager Ernie to be the first to reach the top. Or myself, crammed in a Thai minivan during a visa run to Myanmar. Knees pulled up on a chair with cracks in the soft brown leather through which foam came pouring through like foam in an bathtub. Boobs bouncing in all directions at every pothole in the road, with the rest of my body flying up a meter or five against the slightly-less-soft-than-expected-ceiling. Like sushi on a Japanese Teppanyaki plate.
Boobs bouncing in all directions at every pothole in the road
We still have seven hours of travel ahead of us. I look sideways at that guppy. That guppy that came back from one of his travels so dirty that I was afraid to hug him. That guppy that sat folded-in-half in Indian train compartments. I grab my coat and put it over him like a blanket. Because I understand. I completely understand. If a backpacker for once finally has some sort of space, well … then you seize the opportunity with both hands – or feet.
Are you also going to Turkey and do you want to sleep somewhere else than in a bus with a foot in your neck? Great idea. Here you can find the best accommodation options in Istanbul, Antalya and Cappadocia!
What was your most uncomfortable trip? Would you pay more for an extra comfortable seat?