You may have noticed that this blog has gone silent over the past couple of months. Or maybe you haven’t. Or maybe you aren’t even reading anymore.
If you are, or you were wondering what the hell happened, I can assure you, nothing serious. I wasn’t physically harmed and I didn’t fall ill. I guess, about halfway through the trip, I had a bit of a change of heart toward blogging. Now, with 11 days left before I return to the United States and 1 day into my 12 days as a solo traveler, I’m going to start again. I have the notes. I have the photos. I have the memories.
Now, I feel, I can write about all that has happened..
You see, about a month and half after I left Korea I realized that blogging was actually getting in the way of traveling. I would constantly stress about what I would do next, just so I could have something interesting to write about. If Tara and I were planning on going out to dinner, I’d order meals just because I thought I needed to blog about eating that particular dish. And if the lighting wasn’t good enough, hell, I’d freak out. On days where we had a lot of activities planned and I didn’t have as much time to write as I’d planned, I would feel guilty. The same thing would happend if I wanted to sit in a hammock and read a book. So then I would force myself to write some half assed posts, which were mostly boring and uninspired.
I soon realized that this was ridiculous. I had worked hard to save money in Korea so I could go on this trip. I’d spent nearly two years planning it. I have no idea if I’ll ever get the opportunity to travel like this again. Why am I spending my time feeling stressed and guilty when I could be slurping down Thai iced tes and bowls of pho?
Once I stopped feeling like I had to blog about every little thing I did, I started to think about the probably thousands of blog posts I had read about Southeast Asia before embarking on this little adventure. And it was then that I became a little jaded with the idea of travel blogging itself. Even posts as benign as tips to make travel easier, actually make travel sound harder than it is. I had about seven million worries and concerns and fears before I left, only to find out that everything is actually really easy. Like, ridiculously easy. Yeah, maybe sometimes your van sucks or you end up paying a dollar or two more than you should’ve, but overall, traveling southeast Asia is a breeze.
Then I started thinking about all these posts by people who have these, like, life changing, existential experiences everywhere they go. No. Just no. When you are crammed in the back of the van with 12 people and their suitcases and no air-con and a Russian man who won’t stop smoking, there is no life lesson to be learned. Except that maybe I have more will power against killing than I’d originally thought and that some people are just assholes. Travel does change you, but is every day some profound learning experience? Hell no.
But it didn’t end there. Somehow, I managed to bring my contempt with the travel blogging community back to myself. Maybe I was a bad traveler. There were times when I thought to myself that long term travel was the worst thing out there. I was exhausted. I was sick of seeing temples. I wanted to drink an IPA and eat a Domino’s thin crust pizza while sitting on a couch watching reruns of some Bravo reality show. I was over bugs and the thought of a hostel dorm room horrified me.
But then two things happened.
I got into a travel groove.
And I realized I never really wanted to be a travel blogger.
You see, I want to be a writer. And I figured the best way to gain some experience and break into the industry would be to start blogging. But then I got dragged into the whole travel blogging realm of Facebook groups and comments and niches and press trips. I’m a competitive person and suddenly it wasn’t about my writing anymore, it was about being one of the best. With the most readers. Thousands of Facebook likes. A bunch of retweets.
It took a while, but after I stopped blogging, I finally remembered why I started.
So now I’m going to take all of these notes, memories, and experiences and write about them however I want. I’m not going to think about SEO or retweets or comments. I’m going to think about the best way to express my story and my life over the past four months and beyond. I’m going to blog the way that makes me happy. The way that made me enjoy it in the beginning.
Hopefully it will make me a better writer.
Hopefully it will give me something to look back on in the future.
And hopefully some of you still read it…
(BTW, I don’t hate the entire travel blogging community. There are a lot of you I really love and respect as writers and bloggers. These were just some of my frustrations.)