When people ask me what my blog is about, I want to tell them, "Playfulness." Playfulness is why I started this blog. It's on my About page; it's discussed on some of my most popular posts...
Yet one recurring theme has been assertiveness. Assertiveness seems at odds with playfulness... but, in fact, I've found assertiveness to be a crucial skill that enables my playfulness.
And it's probably one of the most important possible social skills you can learn and use during the current lockdown/quarantine/social distancing protocols.
You'd think, from the hysterical way white dudes drinking cheap beer at hostel bars tell white women they need to "cover up" while traveling, that I'd've offended someone by now.
(I mean, other than said white dudes. They, like certain parts of certain cultures, do not deserve my respect.)
But no! No bikini, shorts, or tank top I've worn has ever offended a local -- in fact, most seem absolutely delighted for the chance to chat, question, or take a photo with me. Especially the women.
But... there is one thing I wore once that was super offensive, and just thinking about it makes me cringe.
There aren't a lot of countries where I can casually enter my PIN in at ATM and walk away a millionaire... But Indonesia is one of them.
There are a lot of 0's on the IDR, or Indonesian rupiah.
Angkor Wat. Image: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram.
On June 4, 2019, I was in Hong Kong, honoring the victims of Tiananmen Square alongside tens of thousands of Hongkongers whose freedom is in peril, and mainland Chinese citizens who aren't allowed to discuss June 4 in their hometowns.
Then I hopped on a plane, traveled back in time to San Francisco, and lived June 4 all over again, this time commemorating the travesty by singing "Ohio" by Crosby Stills and Nash. Angrily repeating the refrain, "Four dead in Ohio! Four dead in Ohio! Four dead in Ohio!" I kept thinking about two things:
As I've mentioned in several recent posts, I've been traveling around Southeast Asia the last few months -- and one of my favorite things about travel is exploring cultural differences.
One that keeps popping up this year... is sex. Specifically, sex taboos.
"Excuse me, do you have a lighter?" I'm asked for the third time today.
"Of course not! I'm American -- we don't smoke!" I reply, hoping that whoever ends up lending this European backpacker a lighter is standing far, far away from me.
Travel is... a lot of things. Amazing. Disgusting. Enlightening. Disheartening. But one thing I love about it is that it feels like kindergarten, college, and adulthood, all at once!
Almost everyone who participates in teen travel tours, service trips, and summer abroad programs... is a girl.
"Expats are expats for a reason," I recently wrote in one of my original songs, "And there's a reason I travel alone."
I won't get into the reason expats are expats (but I will say that it's not racist to call expats expats and immigrants immigrants -- it's not about skin color, but passports). But here's the main reason I travel alone: I basically designed my life around being able to travel several months a year, and most people have not.
People often say it's brave and rare for a woman to travel alone, but, empirically, it's really not.
I travel alone. A lot. It's super fun. It's never lonely. You're free to do whatever you want without worrying about other people's fears or physical limitations.
People say it must be "empowering" to travel alone as a woman. But, honestly, I've always found it way more empowering to backpack alone with my dog.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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