Adventures in a long path to a short story

Today, I tried Googling my blog.  I never did find it, because the 1st hit I got looking for me was for my friend Sally’s Blog.  (If you haven’t read her Unbrave Girl, you really should…although you’ll probably love it, and I’ll never see you here again. I’ll miss you.) 

Are you still here?  Really?  If I were you, I’d still be reading Sally’s blog – but no matter.  Here’s the story…the reason Sally’s blog came up was that my name came up in her comment section.  Apparently, sometime last August, I commented on her post about making mistakes while traveling.  In the comments I referred to my worst travel experience ever (which I’ll tell you about in a minute).  I started to wonder, “Is that really still my worst experience ever?”  It was 12 years ago.  I’ve traveled a lot since then – surely something dreadful must have happened?  Was it really worse than food poisoning on a 6-hour bus ride in Cambodia?  Worse than getting stuck in the current and floating 1/2 way to Vietnam before the snorkel-boat picked us up?  Worse than day 3 of a bike tour, pedaling uphill in the rain with a rash on my tushie?  Yes, Yes, a thousand times, Yes. 

The year was 2000.  I remember it well.  (I liked all the ‘0’s.)  I was living abroad for the first time, and for the most part loving China.  My friend JM and I had just spent a few holiday days at the beach, and were headed back to Harbin.  On the way to the beach, we had booked a sleeper car on the train – the bunk-style beds were clean and comfortable, and the heater was fully operational.  We thought we had the same thing on the way back…how wrong we were!  We didn’t have a sleeper car for the return journey; we had seats on an un-padded, straight-backed wooden bench for the overnight trip.  We found ourselves squeezed onto the hard 2-person bench along with 2 other people near the end of a tightly packed car.  The windows were open, so whatever went out the window 2 seats up, flew back in the window 2 seats back.  I would doze off only to awaken when spit-covered sunflower seed husks landed on my face, or I was lightly misted with a mysterious spray after the toilets were flushed. I had also expected to be in the hot sleeper cars, so I had dressed lightly.  By 2am, I was freezing, couldn’t stand up to stretch lest the passengers around me ooze me out of my 4 inches of seat, and was covered in unpleasant ‘window gifts’. So yes, I still think that’s my worst travel experience ever.

However, when I think about it, I’m kind of glad it’s my go-to travel horror story.  If an exhausting night on a Chinese train is the worst case in my disaster file, I think I’m doing alright. 

7 thoughts on “Adventures in a long path to a short story

  1. You are correct, if that is the worst thing you are doing OK. The thing about those kinds of trips is they are memorable. Like setting up a tent in the middle of a valley when thundershowers rolled in, or walking the Bund on a hot afternoon with three dehydrated hungry kids and calling it "an adventure", or following the directions to the skate park that have you take the "yet to be built" line of the subway! Traveling abroad certainly does give one lots of memories. You should compile them all into a book, I bet it would sell at least one to every member of your extended family (who all have lived vicariously (sp?) through your blog) Thanks for the blog!

  2. Janice! Ever since I left good internet behind, thereby losing all video-loading capacity, I've been at a loss for what to do on the internet. Sometimes I think I've finished, reached the end, have no more I could do without youtube or netflix. Then I ask a question to the universe that I realize I COULD ask to Google and my internetting adventures begin again. All that is to say I have started to love reading blogs. They require very little bandwidth compared to youtube reruns of so you think you can dance, and they're usually by people I like, and they're interesting. I'm bookmarking yours, and from now on, I'll check your blog before I despair that I've reached the end of the internet. Write more! 😀

  3. Oh, baby! Been there, done that. Seriously. Lived in Northern China too (Changchun, Jilin Province)so get the freezing by the open window part. The 'spit covered sunflower seed husks' you mentioned made me laugh and cringe at the same time. Ah, China – the cosmopolitan veneer of the cities only lasts 10 km. outside when on hard seat on the train! Thanks for a fun trip down memory lane!!

  4. Bravo, brave traveler! And congratulations on your blog. You got me thinking about some of the challenging episodes I've had "back in the days" and more recently. Moments I thought I'd forgotten forever have started to flood back. In my younger travel days, internet was only just conceived. How the WWW has changed our lives! Aren't blogs just the best?

  5. Oh wow. I guess I'm glad I didn't take that hard seat sleeper back from Xi'an to Shanghai last summer. I tried to convince my friend it would make for a very good "adventure." But she wasn't buying it. It's good someone was thinking sanely.Oh, and Googling your blog is just the beginning. I get Google Alerts for when someone mentions my blog. You can also use Google Analytics to find out how people found your blog. That can be a bit scary sometimes — especially when you see what kind of Google searches have uncovered your blog. And thanks for the mention!

  6. Thanks, everyone! I'm glad you came to visit. Doug – I'll think about a book…maybe after my thesis is done. Kathy – are you saying I'm the blog at the end of the universe? :-)KP – You're welcome. You're the first person I ever knew who went to China! I remember you making dinner for our family after you got home. Glenys – I'm glad you found me. I'm sure you have some stories to tell!Sally – I'm glad you listened to the wise council of your friend. You have enough adventures to keep you busy without adding sunflower seeds to your face! (And thanks for the Google Analytics…although I'm not sure I want to know!)

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