I think one of my favorite things about rowing is that whenever you mess up a stroke, you immediately get to take another one, a better one. The consistent repetition forces you learn to move on quickly and effectively; you learn to let it go and focus on the next one. There’s no time to beat yourself up over your failures or get mad about other people’s mistakes. It’s just you, your crew, your shell and oars, and 2,000 meters of water. There’s no looking back.
It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m in Myanmar exploring a bustling market next to yet another pagoda on Inle Lake. The smells of mohinga and burning incenses fill the air while colourful longyis, shiny jewellery, and a few random crowns made out of teeth keep my eyes busy with curiosity. Though utterly exhausted from two days of hiking through the countryside of Shan State compounded by four and a half months of intense travel, I’m riding a high from the past few days filled with laughter, holiday cheer, friendship, beautiful scenery, and tons of delicious food and feel like nothing can bring me down.
I’ve been travelling for almost 4 months now. I’ve been to 42 countries in that time, 57 in my life time and people always ask me if I get scared travelling and tell me how unsafe it is for me as a trans person to be travelling alone. Generally my response is that I don’t get any more scared than I do in the US or UK because it feels just as dangerous at home as it does abroad. Last week I was sexually harassed/assaulted
While I haven’t been as active in blogging as I would like to (it’s hard to keep up with when you are moving this quickly), one thing that I think I will put an effort into keeping up is my monthly reflection posts. It’s an opportunity to look back at where I’ve gone, what I’ve learned, done, seen, and experienced. Yesterday - as I entered my 37th country since my departure - marked three full months of being on the move across Europe so it’s time to do just that. So for this reflection post, I thought I would compile a list of 37 things that happen when you backpack long term and at a fast pace. Or at least 37 things that have happened to me.
Yesterday was the final full day of the Monsoon. We started off our day with a 2.5 hour walking tour of Vilnius, which included the self-declared independent micronation of Užupis, which is similar to Christianshavn in Copenhagen, sans drugs. There was a Tibet Square in honour of when the Dalai Lama visited, and the Backpacker Jesus statue.
Our final morning in Riga, we slept in before going to the bus station for our 2.5 hour bus to Siauliai, Lithuania. From there, we would be taking a 20 minute local bus to see the Hill of Crosses: a Catholic pilgrimage site that has been active since the late 1800s, and was repeatedly threatened during Soviet rule.