So APPARENTLY, Mercury is in retrograde. What does this mean to me? Usually, absolutely nothing. This week? It holds a little more significance. Normally I’m not a big believer in the relevance of Mercury’s state of being, but this past week has been a doozie and for all I know it’s all Mercury’s fault. Regardless, it feels good to have something to pin all this bullsh*t on.
The last few days I’ve been on this new diet called "I'm stuck in Malaysia with the equivalent of $12 and there's at least two days before I have the capacity to get more money in Singapore." I think it was really effective considering for breakfast yesterday morning, I slept in. For lunch: an apple with peanut butter. Can't forget about dinner though! $1 fried rice from the Indian food place across the street.
Now listen, I am fully aware that I am living the dream out here. I have been traipsing around the world for five solid months from Copenhagen to Kuala Lumpur and everywhere in between. As such, my list of things to complain about is relatively low. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of aspects of my life that aren’t quite where I’d like them to be, but my general day to day existence is pretty incredible, so normally I have no real complaints. But this week, I think I’ve earned the right to whine a little.
For those of you who don’t know, this past Friday I had my purse stolen from me by some jerk on a motor bike who caught me off guard and sped away like a bat out of hell after he literally RIPPED it off my shoulder and broke the strap. What was in that purse? Oh, you know, not much. Just my passport, Kyle’s passport, my wallet with all my credit cards, my smart phone, my Ray Bans…. Nothing important. Mind you, we had already seen everything (tourist-wise) that KL has to offer and planned to leave the next morning to visit my family in Singapore for a few days. Then Kyle was supposed to fly back to the States and I was supposed to continue on to Indonesia. That is not what happened. After this jerk stole our stuff (we had been on our way downtown to grab a drink at this super cool helipad lounge bar), we booked it back to the hostel and they drove us to the police station to file a report. Approximately four hours later, we were done at the station and brought back to the hostel only to realize that it was FRIDAY so naturally the Embassy where we would need to go to get new passports was CLOSED UNTIL MONDAY. It was around this time that I started hyperventilating again. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have Kyle there with me. Not only would I not have him to comfort me as I lost my ever-loving mind, I also would have had no way to freaking contact anyone BC THE JERK STOLE MY DAMN PHONE. So in short, I was incredibly grateful that he was still with me.
Like I said, we’d already seen most of what KL had to offer – the Batu Caves, Central Market, Little India, China Town, etc – but what we hadn’t gotten to do was sneak up into one of the infinity pools that are so well known in KL (plus we also didn’t make it to the helipad lounge bar thing we had planned to go to that night BC OF THE ASSHOLE ON THE MOTORBIKE). So we still had some sights to see over the course of the weekend while I whined about my lack of a cell phone and Kyle logged me into all of my accounts on his phone so that I wasn’t completely dead to the world. This goes back to me being ridiculously grateful that he was around.
By Monday, we were ready to be out of KL, so we made a trip up to the Embassy to see what we could get done. Three hours later, we walked out with what I like to call “Barbie passports.” They look like real passports, but they have about 4 pages and are only valid for a year, even though they charge you more for them than they would a regular freakin’ passport. Whatever. I’m not even mad. We also left with a mission – we had to visit immigration and get new visas and prove that we were leaving the country within the next week.
Now mind you, we had already missed our booked bus to Singapore (the one we were supposed to take Saturday morning) and I was waiting on my credit card to come in at the hostel where we were staying so that I could have a means of pulling money out bc as of right then, I was taking out loans exclusively from the Bank of Kyle Bearce – hopefully there’s no interest on said loans and also YET ANOTHER REASON why I’m so grateful he was still around. The credit card was supposed to come in on Wednesday, so I bought a ticket to Singapore for Thursday so I would have something to show Immigration. Did the card come in Wednesday? No. So I extended in the hopes that it would come on Thursday. Did the card come in on Thursday? No. So I extended again, bc it was too late for me to head to Singapore, and hoped that it would come in Friday. But knew that I would leave today (Friday) regardless bc if I stayed one more night in that damn hostel I was going to lose my freaking mind. AND DID THE CARD COME IN ON FRIDAY MORNING? GOOD GUESS. NO.
So here I am, on a bus to Singapore, after having bought my THIRD TICKET to get here, all alone bc my best friend LEFT ME ALONE IN MALAYSIA (which is partially my fault bc I had him buy a round trip ticket instead of a one way shut up hindsight is 20/20). I have no phone, which means that unless I am connected to WiFi, I am not connected to the world. Do you know how difficult it is to travel without a phone? I’m not talking about social media and all that crap, I don’t really need those things. I’m talking maps. I’m talking Uber and Grab. I’m talking emergency purposes. I have none of that. ALSO I don’t have any MUSIC TO LISTEN TO which for anyone who knows me, you know that that is a serious issue bc music is the way I cope with pretty much everything (the other way is talking to my fav people ie. the fam, Ky, Becks, Chrissy and Sassy) WHICH I ALSO CANNOT DO BC I. DON’T. HAVE. A. PHONE. It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.
Like I said, this week has been a lot. Especially when Ky LEFT ME Wednesday night, bc he’s family and it was a real comfort having a piece of the family around after such a tough time. It was almost enough to send me home, to be honest with you. Almost, but not quite (much to the chagrin of my family).
In one of the many Skype sessions I’ve had with my parents this week in order to attempt to maintain my sanity, my dad taught me a saying they have in the Marine Corps: No plan survives first contact. I honestly can’t think of a more eloquent and relevant way to say it. It is the epitome of the idea that your plans just that: plans. They are ideas. It’s a path down which you would LIKE to go. At no stage does it mean that it’s how it WILL go. I have been traveling intermittently for the past 7 years, and nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed flights and had injuries and there have been plenty of ups and downs, but never anything like this. In reality, the fact that it hadn’t happened by now is pretty miraculous. On the flip side, it was some shit timing. The week my travel buddy leaves and I’m supposed to go it on my own? Really? Really??? But I guess that’s how it goes sometimes. When I set out on this trip five months ago, I planned to travel for eight months or so. Now it’s looking more like six, for a lot of reasons. One of which being that when sh*t hits the fan, there is no one I’d rather be with than my family. Another is that my grandfather’s cancer is aggressive, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend time in some faraway paradise when I could be by his side.
Life does not always work out like it’s supposed to. In all honesty, I think I would be disappointed if it did. That doesn’t mean I’m okay with everything that went down this week – I know someday it’ll all be hilarious but right now I still want to punch a wall when I think about the guy on the motorbike. Every night before I go to bed it’s all I can do not to replay the incident over and over in my head and try to figure out what I could have done differently. As an avid traveler, I know the dangers of going abroad. I know to wear my purse across my body, not just over my shoulder. I know to keep my eyes and ears open at all times. Kyle always makes sure to walk on the side of the road and put me on the sidewalk (probably more bc I’m apt to get runover than for theft prevention, but I digress). I even know not to bring my passport with me when I leave the hostel, and I usually don’t, but since we were leaving the next morning and had already packed our bags, I had moved them back to my purse for convenience like I always do the night before. This guy knew what he was doing. And all it took was for everything to work in his favor for just five seconds. We were crossing the road and there was oncoming traffic and we were distracted. Just for a few seconds, but that’s all it takes. You cannot be in a perpetual state of awareness. This guy knew that, and all he had to do was wait for the right moment. It’s not like I don’t stand out as the long blonde-haired girl with about a foot of height on everyone around her walking next to the tall, handsome ginger guy who most certainly is not from around here. A lot of factors had to come into play for this to happen, and the what-ifs running through my head are innumerable. But I won’t let this ruin the rest of my trip.
So here is the new plan: As I said, I’m on a bus to Singapore now. Barring any complications, I should meet up with my Aunt and Uncle at a bar near their house around 9PM (with bags in tow - classy) and head back to their place for a few nights of rest in a bed that thousands of other people haven’t slept in before me, with my own room, and no need to put my things into a locker for fear of them being stolen – though I will say there is a mutual respect between hostel-travelers bc we’re all poor as hell so no one takes each other’s things bc karma is a b*tch.
I can’t even articulate how excited I am to be with family for a few days and unwind from this past week. After Singapore, I’ll fly to the Philippines for a few weeks before heading home to visit all my favorite humans in the whole wide world, and I seriously cannot wait. It’ll be a busy summer (not unusual for the Janecek family) including a month-long visit with my grandparents in Texas, a National Park road trip with mom, a trip to Big Sur with my sisters, a scuba trip with mom to the destination of her choosing, and finally an international move with the help of my dad, whether that be to Germany for my Masters or New Zealand with a work-holiday visa. Clearly the adventure doesn’t end when I get back home, it just continues, and I couldn’t be more excited.
But for now, I think I’ll read the book I stole from my hostel (The Promise, by Jonathan Alter, about Obama’s first year in office – it’s really good btw) until I hopefully am ready for a nap, bc goodness knows I can’t text or listen to music or make a phone call or do LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE BC SOME ASSHOLE STOLE MY PHONE. Did I mention I got my phone stolen? Bc I did.
So wish me luck folx, bc if something goes wrong I have absolutely no way to let anyone know and I will probably die on the side of the road having never made it to Singapore. Or I’ll make it and buy 27 drinks at the bar as soon as I arrive. I like to think I deserve them.
Until next time ya’ll – XOXOX
PS. I would like to thank (potentially for the millionth time) my parents, who have done everything from visit the embassy in LA to cancel and send out my new credit cards (that never came), and my best friends Becka and Kyle, without all of whom I would have never made it through this week. Thank you all, I love you so much. Especially Kyle, who had to deal with me in every state from furious to bawling and every emotion in between. I do not deserve you.
PPS. I met a lovely human on the bus, a girl named Irene from Malaysia, who not only helped me get through immigration (a battle considering my fake-looking passport), but also called me a grab to get to the restaurant where my aunt and uncle were waiting for me so that I didn't have to call a cab and be effectively robbed of all my money.
PPS. I am sitting in my aunt and uncle's beautiful living room in Singapore with a chilled glass of white wine in my hand and I haven't felt this calm in a week. Life is good, people. It really is.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)