How did we miss that?
It’s almost as if when you flashpack, backpack or travel for an extended period of time, you have a license to be the Anti-Tourist. There’s no pressure to run around like mad and see all of the necessary attractions. In my opinion, this is part of the reason that we were cavelier about some of the sights we missed.
In some cases we put things off because we had too much time. As in, we intended to do something but we put it off until it was too late. Instances where this was the case include the Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang, a Thai massage and Muay Thai in Thailand. We spent two weeks in Chiang Mai, how did we not make it to Muay Thai? This begs the question, if you aren’t doing these things, what are you doing there?
In other cases you may have travelled long distances and are simply fatigued. I found that this was most prevalent when we were already remote and reaching an attraction would require logging more hours on a bus. Most poignantly, we opted out of the mysterious Plain of Jars in central Laos. It would have required an additional 16 hours round trip of minibus travel. That would have sucked, especially given the generally terrible state of Laos roads. Additionally, it seems that wherever in the world you travel you can quickly become ‘templed out’ or ‘churched out.’ When your brain starts to glaze over these historic and ornate buildings, consider taking a break or pulling the plug. While I loved Angkor Wat and think that we made a fantastic group choice to rent a private van and tour guide, I would love to visit again. This is not necessarily because I was ‘temple fatigued’ the day we explored it. Rather, I felt that my entire day was spent looking through the lens of my DSLR. I’d leave the camera at home and admire Angkor in its grandeur.
In some cases your travel partner and you have different priorities. My travel partner was my long term boyfriend so some compromise was necessary to ensure that our relationship made it back to North America intact. For photographic reasons and a diluted cultural experience I would have loved to make it to a floating market. That never happened, largely because we only had three weeks to do Vietnam from bottom to top. Moreover, I would have loved to spend more time (and money) in Hoi An but I quickly discovered that the allure of this sleepy city is shopping, which is not particularly man-friendly.
Lastly, it can be a challenge to create or stick to an itinerary when you have months at your disposal. We ended up rushing through Vietnam because we didn’t move along when we considered places to be ‘just okay.’ We could have cut a few days in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Sihanoukville and allocated them to reaching Sapa. Dang, I’ll just have to go back some time!
When it comes down to it, it’s just fine to accept that you can’t do everything. Time and monetary constraints have to be considered. And while I feel that I missed out on some things because I compromised, I do have to recognize that there are a few incredible experiences I carry due to positive compromise. Scuba diving and biking to Pai were all very much travel priorities of Greg’s and my trip would have been less enjoyable without them.