Traveling in this day and age is something of a miracle. We often wonder how people did it twenty (even ten!) years ago. The once-valuable Travel Agent has been replaced by our own fruitful internet searches, booking everything from flights to rooms to breakfast with just a few clicks. All hotels have websites, even the most budget-consicious or remote. It's more and more rare, to see a 40-something backpacker carrying a relic of the past: a well-worn and dog-eared Lonely Planet book. Now we clack around on WikiTravel, noting departure taxes and visa information without the need to schlep weighty tomes. And we can fire off a quick hello text through our wifi-enabled iPhones instead of putting pen to postcard, the instant antidote to a pang of homesickness.
Yesterday a friend checked-in, asking a string of thoughtful questions. One in particular had me thinking. She asked about our daily routine, whether or not we've built-in any alone time, and how we've adapted to sharing this experience. Each day is different, I said, with very little alone time. In many ways we're spending each day in perfect unison, every moment shared entirely. We don't need to say much when a tiny Cambodian toddler grins at us from a swinging hammock, we simply take it in. The furthest we get from each other is the couple hundred meters between our rented bicycles, the one without gears lagging back. I can calculate our distance by the lapse in our Hello!'s with passing strangers. And so there's almost nothing to talk about. We lack common domestic interactions like, "How was your day?" When we put our heads down at night, pillow talk has all but vanished.
I hadn't thought of it, exactly, but suddenly I wondered what it meant. Were we losing track of a daily exercise we once enjoyed? Were we forgetting to ask certain questions, taking our shared experience for granted? But I realize I've come to look for Jeff's unique experience in the ultra-specific. "How is that beer?" "Are those noodles cooked well?" "Does your butt hurt from that bike seat?" Because it's important to know how this trip feels to him, how these moments affect him. The most mundane and the others, too.
Riding bikes in Cambodia.
LOCATION: Siem Reap, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
DATE AND TIME: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:59AM Cambodian Standard Time/Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:59PM EST