Phayo, Franche-Compte, Elounda, Jum

Becoming a Stayer

It was just idle Sunday evening curiosity that attracted me to an article called Going Nowhere: Ten tips for expat Stayers who want to stay well. It’s probably one of those boring listicles bloggers use to pad their pages, I said to M. But it was a bombshell! All the faint warning bells, the unsettling thoughts, the disturbing reserve we’d been feeling this time around in SE Asia, were brought into sharp focus by the article: What it takes to stay- to stay well- somewhere on the planet, away from our native country. And for us personally, how singularly attractive the idea of becoming a “Stayer” actually sounded…
Our uneasiness began in Siem Reap- navigating another hedonistic tourist bubble, a nagging sense of working very hard for the sights, or for a dose of authenticity, a nod of recognition, you know, from human to human

We went out of our way, crossed countries even
Bus route to somewhere

to sneak off the well-trodden tourist trails. Sometimes, happily, we succeeded: “Greenwater” rafting at the top of dreamy, early morning Kuang Si waterfall, with the arguably sweetest man in Laos

Or admiring the river grass harvest in Nong Khiaw
Pounding rivergrass

But we still didn’t feel at peace with our role….
Complain box

It hit us hardest in Laos. Our favorite laid-back haven….
Laidback Laos

seemed under siege from a weary, we-didn’t-sign-up-for-an-invasion vibe
A mess

It made connecting with the gentle, happy-go-lucky Laotians we remembered feel a good deal harder.

We have never seen so many selfie smiles, and so few shared ones!! Eyes constantly probing their own mirror-image takes getting used to- alone among the masses… I tenaciously want believe in change for the better, to believe swelling tourist dollars work life-enhancing wonders for everyone-
Money snake

wherever they’re spent. More obvious though, is the hassle. More, faster, louder, me, now. A veritable deluge of self-absorbed consumerism, tailspinning in slow motion to God knows where….

So yes, the Stayer. Make a homebase, commit, engage. We’re calling it graduating

Our graduation speech would start with this: To all who brightened our first three years of travel, thank you, thank you! And it would end with two questions: Where to then, from here? Well, the 2016 Special Interest Class of Chiang Mai University is excited to be giving Portugal  a “is it homebase material?” whirl this Spring! And, just as important: Will we keep traveling? In a word- yes! In spite of it all, knowing there are still countless treasures waiting to be discovered brings us joy. Let’s aim for a Masters in Travel!
Treasure chests

4 Responses to Becoming a Stayer

  1. well, well well. I said: now they have to learn spanish. My wife said: no they have to learn portuguisch. I said nothing, because there is no point arguing with the wife.

  2. March 27, 2016 at 03:00
    Christiane says:

    And how are your faring in Portugal?

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