If you are looking for some color in your life, head to the Saturday Otavalo Market in Ecuador. A two hour taxi drive (or a four hour bus) from Quito leads you through massive rose nurseries and the shadow of a massive volcano before plopping you in Otavalo. Well worth the trip, Otavalo is full of vendors who want to sell you stuff. Bargain hard and shamelessly.
My mama said there would be days like this. And there always are more than a few traveling.
The main point of my blog is to get people to travel. Plain and simple.
So I do my best to highlight the best of the best in my writing. But I would be lying to you if I covered up the hard parts.
The gross bathrooms. Hot and sticky buses with snoring travel mates. Having no idea where the hell you are. The stress of trying to figure out where you are going to go next (Planning, how I loathe thee.) The constant haggling. Crappy weather. Paying for one thing and getting another inferior thing. Waiting. Lots and lots of waiting.
Sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it.
To the point where I’m asking myself “Why do I do this again? What part of this am I really enjoying?”
But one of the most import lessons I have learned from traveling is to be resilient and constantly grateful for what you have. Because:
#1 I have the opportunity to travel in the first place. (Read Burma/Myanmar post.)
#2 It’s ok to be annoyed by a boring/crappy day. Shit happens. But you should still see the beauty in being somewhere you’ve never been before. A bad day due to a motorbike flat tire accompanied by encounters with leeches and thunderous rain storms can all be rectified by a delicious green curry and a cold beverage in Muay Thai Fighter beer cozy.
At least, that’s what I think.
Moral of the story: Go somewhere. Anywhere. It’s worth it.
At the end of my 10-day trip in Burma, I found myself alone and with only a day to visit Mandalay. What does one do with only 24 hours in Mandalay?
Bike to Mandalay Hill
After checking into to a mediocre room at the Nylon Hotel, I quickly grab a bike for a dollar and head for Mandalay Hill. This means biking around the giant fort walls of the Mandalay Palace in the slow lane, flanking old ladies with their pretty flowered longyis and staying out of the way of dirty city buses.
I figure that I will be able to see the rows of souvenirs stands and then I will know, this is where I go. Instead I pass monasteries, a golf course and then… houses. I had apparently navigated to the road less traveled (shocking, I know) and ended up… lost.
Time for me to get out my map and put on the classic “help me I’m a confused tourist!” face. As if consoling a puppy, a kind woman with an extremely large goiter amassed on the left side of her neck assures me that yes, I’m in the right place. Just a little ways further.