A Russian guy, a Frenchman, two German chicks, a Singaporian dude, and an American girl walk into a bar…. It sounds like the beginnings of a pretty solid joke, right? But instead, it was my last night in Manila. After my 15h ferry ride from Coron to Manila, I ran into a German girl named Elena whom I’d met in El Nido a week before. She’d befriended a Frenchman and they were looking for a taxi to a hostel they’d heard good things about when we saw each other from afar and she invited me to join them. It actually worked out pretty perfectly, considering I had absolutely ZERO plans as to what I would do when I arrived aside from maybe find a coffee shop with WiFi or try and catch a Grab to an airport hostel. Instead, I fell into step with Elena and Florian and we negotiated a taxi with a lovely Singaporian kid named Aqiil who was headed to the same place.
As we’d arrived in the city at 6.30AM, we had a whole day of shenanigans ahead of us to include everything from hanging out at the rooftop pool, wandering to find the cheapest food physically possible, and finding a local computer store so that I could wage war on the WiFi and get my two most recent posts online before heading back to the hostel for a swim and a shower to get rid of the perpetual feeling of sweatiness before heading to a rooftop bar for a few drinks on my last night in Southeast Asia.
Yup. My last night. As in right now, at this exact moment, I am on a plane home. Granted, I almost missed the plane bc I can’t tell time and I’m easily distracted so I was actually the last one to board the flight bc I almost missed it bc I am stupid…. But I’d like to focus on the fact that I am on my way home, not on my stupidity. Thank you.
All jokes aside, I haven’t really processed the fact that it’s over. For the last six months, nothing in my life has been planned. I woke up every day knowing I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted, with whomever I wanted. I was lucky enough to visit some of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen in my life with some of the most incredible people I’m lucky enough to call my friends. In six months, I hit fourteen countries and more cities than I can count, and in all honesty, I’m not sure how the adjustment is going to go. It sounds stupid, considering I was only gone six months, but a lot can happen in such a short time.
In the coming months, there will be no frantic hostel search hours before my arrival in a new city. No cockroaches and mice infesting my bedroom, no 10 other people sleeping in the same room as me at all times, no crossing my fingers in the hopes that my food doesn’t have gluten in it (f u Celiac), no wondering where I’ll be tomorrow or next week or next month, no cheap flights and overnight buses to the wrong places, no bargaining for everything from street food to tuktuks, no language barriers (though sometimes I think I get around better in places that don’t speak English as their first language), no searching frantically for WiFi so I can let my mom know I’m not dead, no wondering what kind of mystery meat I’m being offered from the nice old lady with innocent eyes, no questionable ferry rides where you’re not sure whether you’ll sink or get thrown up on, no precarious roads that your drunk bus driver will almost definitely accidentally drive off of, no breathtaking sunsets on white sandy beaches with transparent waters, no spontaneous scuba diving trips or free diving through shipwrecks, no serendipitous friendships based on a mutual love of travel and an understanding that the world has more to offer than we can ever experience, no perpetual state of learning about a culture foreign to that of my own, no giddy confusion when I can’t understand what the locals are trying to convey but they’re all smiles bc all they want to do is help, no eating bugs and chicken intestines bc the locals tell you to trust them and your friends are jerks who want Snapchat videos for their friends who are also jerks, no late nights out that result in the best stories of your life despite the absolutely grueling hangover the day after, no late night conversations with people from all walks of life about everything from their education system to their thoughts on how the world should work, no rice noodles galore and $1 bottles of rum, the list goes on and on… There are so many things I will miss.
But then too, there are so many things that I have missed. My family – my favorite people in the entire world, followed closely by gluten free pizza, which is followed even more closely by my best friend (Kyle - who still comes after the pizza though), and then things like sleeping in my own bed, early morning coffee in my hammock, my puppies, alone time (I have been living perpetual dorm life), real toilets, hot showers, not having to carry toilet paper everywhere I go, snacking whenever I feel like it, going to the gym with my mom, coffee dates with my sisters, not worrying about anyone (except my sister Sam) stealing all my stuff, concerts with Jess, movie nights with my dad, Chipotle, GLUTEN FREE BEER OH MY GOD THE JOYS, my mom’s cooking, having my own kitchen to cook for myself, all in no particular order.
This has been the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s most certainly not the end of my escapades. My plan (after I finish my masters) is to head to Indonesia for my Dive Master certification for a few months before trekking the Himalayas (specifically the Annapurna Circuit with my mom) for a few weeks and then heading back to Germany to work for a few years. After that I think I’ll buy a beater car after a visit to my family in California and drive through Central and South America for eight months or so (or until I run out of money). That’s the plan, for now anyway, but goodness knows plans are made to be changed. Who knows, maybe (likely) you’ll catch me begging for change on the street to fund my ridiculously expensive travel hobby. Speaking of which, why are all my favorite things so expensive? Travel, snowboarding, scuba diving, alcohol, like come ON. This is crap. But I guess I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got and either marry a very rich man who will support my habbits oooooooor be a successful diplomat who gets her travel paid for by your tax money. I’m going for the latter but like is the former really such a bad backup plan? I think not.
For those of you who don’t know the plan, I will be home May 5th (today). I have a fairly busy summer ahead – as is the Janecek way – before I head to Germany to begin my Masters in European Studies – Governance and Regulation in August. Between then and now are road trips and scuba trips and day trips and countless coffee dates and game nights and visiting old friends. I truly could not be excited. There was a brief time when I thought it might be best that I just go home, after such a rough week in Kuala Lumpur (you know the time I’m referring to with the whole motorbike asshole who stole all my important personal belongings and REALLY PUT A DAMPER ON MY DAY). In the end, though, I couldn’t be more glad I stayed. Traveling alone this past month was an experience I will never forget. I learned more about myself than I ever thought I could in such a short time and met some truly fantastic humans along the way.
But for now, I think it’s about damn time for me to get some sleep seeing as I only have about seven hours between me and a group of people who will no doubt keep me up all night with their stories and laughter. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to fight my neighbor for custody of my armrest and improve my sleeping-on-a-plane positioning (after the countless number flights I’ve taken in the last six months alone, I’ve gotten pretty good at it if I do say so myself).
So this is me coming to the end of one adventure, only to begin a new one as soon as this plane hits the ground. Let me tell you folx, I think it’s going to be a damn good summer.
Until next time - XOXOX
PS. If you were expecting some sort of story about my personal growth, you've got another thing coming. I mean, I now refuse to wear real bras and can't commit to plans any further ahead than like 3h... but other than that? I mean, there's also the massive perspective shift after having experienced degrees of poverty and lifestyle differences never before seen by yours truly. But the bras thing.. especially that. Also I have a newfound appreciation for ice cold water and air conditioning.
PPS. Apparently I'm not cut out for the sugar daddy life like I thought I was bc a 70yr old man at the airport just offered to pay for my masters in return for sexual favors and I visibly gagged.
PPPS. I'm about to be back in a predominantly English speaking country for the first time in 6 months so I either need to learn to tone down the shit talking, talk quieter, or get ready to be in a lot of fights bc I can't control the words that come out of my face.
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)