1-1-19 Its funny how a matter of a few weeks had changed me. I think back to all the things I found 'odd' or 'disgusting' when I first arrived in SE Asia and laugh because it all seems so normal now. I packed a ton of hand sanitizer because I had heard and read that there are rarely sinks or if there are there's no running water and or soap. The first week I used hands sanitize like life depended on it. Now I couldn't tell you where it is.
The idea of a squat toilet just made my stomach cringe. Squat toilet: there's no seat and no tank attached- just the bowl . You literally squat over it and then reach into a giant tub of water that has a bucket in it. You grab a full bucket and pour it in the toilet bowl. The end. Granted the whole 'grab the bucket that EVERYONE else had touched after using a toilet and then rarely having a sink, let alone soap to use, still gets me from time to time... But not nearly like it did at first. (Side note: I will never take a full toilet or a sink for granted again).
Taking off my shoes everywhere I go took more than a week to get used to. I came here hating things touching my feet. Like it's up there with 'fear' factor. But now, it's totally habit and I honestly never think twice about it. I just wish my chaco sandals were a tad easier to slide on and off sometimes. Oh and my fear of someone stealing my 'Expensive' sandals is gone too. Of course now they are dirty, excessively used, and beat up~ but no one wants them because only rookies where flips that don't just slide right off 🤣
Trust- it's amazing the level of trust people have in one another here. I once questioned it frequently- as though it can't just be 'a way of life'. But it is here. I rented a bicycle, had to park it far away from my destination which u was at for 3+ hours, and the bike was untouched upon return. Just like everyone's bikes were all there and also untouched. Or the fact that vendors here leave their store fronts to attend to family or whatever and just assume people will put money in (and not take money out of)the 'pay bucket'. Or taking a taxi, having them wait for you for several hours, and not paying any money up front. All at the end. Trust is amazing here. (Sure there's probably bad eggs like everywhere else, but certainly not to the same degree as the I know back home).
Sanitary efforts in the food department. I was at first freaked out eating food from a street vendor which has Sat outside for who knows how long without a cover or anything keeping it cold. Now, totally normal. Same with the random animals in the general eating and or cooking area - a cat on the counter is normal. A random rooster walking around the table is also normal.
My standards for sleeping have drastically declined. This is not all bad. I now simply want a clean and mostly bug free bed. Small ants are OK. I'm used to them now. And they don't bite 'as much' as other things do. *I do look forward to sleeping bug free once home tho*
Alone time. I started the trip almost forcing myself to talk to people and try to meet new people. And that's been great! But I realized that it's OK to be alone and I've had a blast getting to know myself better too. I've made efforts to make lifelong acquaintances/friends, but I've also realized it's OK to not want to talk to people. I can decide. The only pressure I will face will come from myself and I can shut that brain off faster now.
Its really weird to think off all the things I've seen, done, experienced, and realized in the last month. I feel my energy being re-centered. I feel like I have a clearer vision for what I want in life and in what's truly important.
When I first arrived I was keenly aware that seemingly everyone stared at me. I already felt out of place/lost, but then I felt like my every move was being watched. Now, I don't really care. I take the selfie. I eat the 'American' stuff sometimes. I make solid attempts at the language and most often get snickered at. I take photos of people's lives out of sheer interest. I still have no idea what side of the street or sidewalk to walk on. I hand over large bills because it's easier to not do the math. I haven't worn makeup in a couple weeks. And it's all ok. And hey, I'm learning, I'm aware, and I'm respectful of the differences~ and that's what counts. Cheers to 2019!