Same Shirt, Different Day
Ah the joys of traveling sure do lead you to some interesting habits. The mix of poor facilities such as laundry, the limits imposed by the fluctuating yet minimal contents of your backpack, and the unattainability of certain products that are otherwise considered standard quickly lead you down a path where you make do with what you have. Add to that the simplicity of never having to impress anyone and the sheer laziness that develops from being away from the real world for such extended periods of time and making do becomes something quite appealing.
Laundry exists, sure, and they’ll wash your stuff and fold them in strange ways. But how bad does that shirt really smell? Those socks have definitely been darker and worked just fine. Not to mention that I’m going to a new city tomorrow and I’m not convinced my laundry really would be ready in time for bus. Sure they nodded when I specified a time but that look in their eyes did not convey understanding.
Did I mention the fluctuating contents? I’m definitely not the most cautious when it comes to not forgetting my things between cities but I honestly think I’ve done a pretty good job. Well then why do I only have 3 of the shirts that I left home with and 3 new ones, two of which I certainly did not buy. And where did this wool hat come from? I think somewhere along the way, coming from the south, my laundry got mixed in with someone coming from the north. They have no idea which clothes were whose so they’ll just give it their best shot, with the educated guess that someone that is washing a tank is obviously also washing a wool hat and a sweater.
But I can’t even bring myself to care. I did not leave home with my finest garments. Also, I am heading north and these clothes were literally just cleaned. Does the sweater fit? No, too bad. Hat? Like a glove. Glove. Glove. Any gloves in here? No, guess I’ll have to buy something later after all.
And are products really unattainable? Sure they don’t have your favorite brand of shower gel, but trying out some of these knockoffs is interesting. So it’s not so much that they’re unattainable, more so that there’s never any reserves. I’m not in a hotel that will provide some and not at home where my last Costco trip is still fueling my toiletry supply. Also, you really don’t want to go out to buy more when you’ve just ran out. It’s the evening, you’re about to go check out the closest market for some street food, do you really want to carry this shower gel with you all night? Nah, you’ll get some more tomorrow on your way out.
And then after some more mystery street food which never seems to surprise me how tasty it is, and maybe a few of the finest local beers if you’re with the right crowd, you get back into your dorm, where some people are already trying to sleep. What shirt did I designate as the sleeping shirt for this week? Somewhere in my bag but really don’t want to rummage through and wake everyone up. Well, I did just do laundry, the one I’m wearing should still be clean enough for bed. So easy, to just go to bed.
Next morning, time to head on out to the next city. Let’s pack everything up and load it on the bikes. Hey, look at that, I woke up dressed. Throw my hoodie on and let’s hit the road!
It’s amazing how quickly, after being used to the corporate lifestyle and traveling with common first class flight upgrades and diamond hotel status, one can regress to this. Even stranger maybe, is that it doesn’t even feel like a regression, just a paradigm shift. Just like a new couch that, even if kept in good condition, loses its excitement over time, a hotel room and comfortable amenities start to be taken for granted and bring no more extra satisfaction than a bunk bed in a dorm does. But the excitement that never fades is that of a new city, a new sight, new people and new cultures every step of the way.