16 April 2009

Some Possible Flukes.

I'm pretty sure that something is wrong with me – I am unreasonably tired. Like, everyday I am dead fucking tired all day, while we walk around and see sights and view temples and plod through museums and cycle in the midday heat I am just kind of biding my time before I can go to the air con and lay down.

This is not like me – when traveling I am almost OCD busy, obsessed with seeing EVERYTHING that a city is known for, things I didn't even know existed and certainly did not care about before arriving. (“Oooh, Sean look. Conical hat making! We have to go to the conical hat factory. Conical Hats!”) I plot out walking routes and sight itineraries and choose restaurants in my trusty guide book months in advance, I do research online, I assault other travelers with a barrage of questions and then I take notes of their answers– I have had Pnomh Penh planned for months and we don't even get there for 5 weeks. I am the type of annoying traveler that goes on a guided walking tour and interupts the guide to ask pointed leading questions (“Isn't it true that these temple frescos were designed as moral warnings for the locals in the 15th century under Chinese rule?” “Aren't Rasjasthanis known for their unique chai spice blend?” “Wasn't this statue erected for the Queen's visit in 1960?”) to the point that people start ignoring the irritated, upstaged guide and asking me questions instead. I am a know-it-all. I travel. I read. I plan. This is what I DO. It is my calling in life.

And yet, here I am in the city I love most in the country I love most with the person I love most, and I am incredibly tired. I am not the type of person that this happens to – I like action orieted solutions to problems, and I have run down the list of possible ailments I could have. I have been eating enough protein and iron. I am not pregnant. I do not have malaria. I do not have the flu, a cold, the rheumatiz' or croup. No bends, dropsy or dengue fever. I may have a whole host of disgusting parasites - we did swim in slightly dicey, possibly liver fluke infested Mekong river water in the very South of Laos, near the Cambodian border, and I ate a lot of street food in India.....but those potential parasites seem unlikely to cause this kind of fatigue. (There are also ways to kind of tell if you have most food borne parasites. It is gross. Use your imagination.)
(Actually, please stop using your imagination. I don't want you to think of me that way. The next time you see me, my bowels will be all you'll be able to think about, and neither of us want that.)

No, I think I have to bend my brain and accept the concept that maybe I need to SLOW DOWN. Maybe I do not need to drag Sean to every pagoda, organic farm and handicraft district. Maybe I can forgive myself if I ignore a palace or two. Maybe I do not need to write an epic blog about every experience. Maybe I am mentally, rather than physically, exhausted. This is hard for me to accept. It feels weak willed.

This reminds me of my first tour of Europe, when I was 18. I was determined to see all of Western Europe in 2 months. All of it. One or two nights in each city - museum after museum, night train after night train, palace after palace. By the time we got to Amsterdam at the end of our trip, we stayed for a week., and did NOTHING cultural except the Heineken Brewery Tour (this was almost 10 years ago, mind you, and they hadn't yet put a limit on how many beers you could drink. You had 45 minutes at the end of the tour to eat as much edam and drink as many half pints as you could, which led to me stumbling out into the daylight at precisely 10:45am, smashed and gassy from all that cheese.) No Anne Frank House. No Van Gogh Museum. I remember seeing every single backpacker throughout Europe with a bright yellow poster tube jutting from their bag, filled with prints from said museum, and I felt shame. But this shame pales in comparison to my cultural vapidity in Paris. As it was my final stop before home, and I was freshly 19 years old and stupid and similarly tired (not to mention with eyebrows that looked like catterpillars marching across my forehead) I am mortified to admit that I arrived at the Louvre, asked where the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo were, took a photo of each and left. And then I ate at McDonalds. There are no words to describe that kind of tourism. (Well, maybe one: Japanese.)

And so, in order to prevent my next 6 months from becoming a chore rather than a delight, I guess I have to take a break. In order to be able to sit in temple courtyards and breathe deeply and feel history, in order to care about scenery and beauty and terraced rice paddies, in order to view each experience as more than a photo opportunity and grow mentally and have my own cliched personal epiphanies, I have to sit still for a while. Our last long break, Mumbai – was months ago now. I am justifying this to myself: After 3 days in Sapa, I, Jessica O'Neill, grant myself permission to sit in a nice room in Hanoi for a minimum of 5 days and read magazines, eat junk food and drink cheap draft beer and mocha frappucinos. I will get 2 leg massages and a facial (Sean, stop giggling like a woman. An actual facial at a spa.) I will go to a movie at the theatre. I will buy pirated Gossip Girl and Lost on DVD (so, so incredibly cheap!) and watch all of it. I will not read anything about global warming, harrowing history or corrupt politics. I will watch CSI re-runs on AXN. I will not visit a single cultural sight. I will relax, in the most North American way possible.

And if I'm still tired after all of that, I will go to the damn doctor and get these liver flukes removed.

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