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India and Nepal were a blast and all, but Hong Kong has been a taste of all that is right in the world.  Makes me eager to return to New York and rebuild a proper life.  This travel has opened my eyes in a way that all our former travel had not.  I may have been tired of travel before we stepped on the plane to India.  We’ve slept in over 100 different beds in countless different towns, villages and cities around the world in the past 500 days.  Ate food that was delicious and food that was impossible to swallow day-after-day-after-day.  Much has happened over the past two months at home and there’s still more to come.  Enough for us to cut our trip short by two months.

I don’t think I’ll ever regret this decision to return.  I have new insights and new inspirations.  I have renewed patriotism and eagerness to take advantage of all our country has to offer.  I could live in Hong Kong.  I could live in Tokyo.  I could certainly be comfortable in a European city.  For now we live in the most bad-ass city in the world.  New York City.  I couldn’t be more proud of that and I think Sue and I both are wanting a slice of home.  December 3rd we leave Hong Kong.  December 3rd we land and I just may kiss the ground when I get there…

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Sadhu: Varanasi, India ~ 2009 John David Becker

If at first you don’t succeed…  The Sadhu’s set themselves apart from other holy men in the Hindu faith.  Living lives of poverty and wandering, they do not collect earthly possessions and do not care about money.  Their bodies are not cremated at a burning ghat on the Ganges; rather they are sunk into the river.

In Nepal, there were supposedly real Sadhu’s and fake Sadhu’s.  The business of being a holy man was too good.  We found Sadhu’s to be hawkish and even more relentless about asking for money than the hawkers selling goods.  They would walk up to you and place flowers on your head and mark you with a bindi: promptly asking you for rupees after.  Not just a token amount either.  If you had a camera, Sadhu’s were more aggressive.  Photo?  200 rupees.  Oh, and you can bargain for less.

In Varanasi, we found the Sadhu’s to be less in-your-face.  I don’t know if they all requested money, but they didn’t actively look for it.  I did get some pictures of a less intimate nature, but I finally found the one Sadhu that I wanted a photograph of.  10 rupees.  Ok.  Get some shots.  Walk away.  Within 20 seconds, I realize I didn’t get the exact shot I wanted.  Went back for round two.  Did you forget me?  10 more rupees.  So I get the shot.  Cost me $0.50USD total.  Such an insignificant amount, but where’s the holy?  Tit-for-tat I guess.

As I sit in total comfort in a Hong Kong hotel room, it’s impossible to not reflect on the past month of travel.  Through Nepal and India, there were plenty of rough moments and plenty of highlights.  The food was up-and-down but usually started well below our baseline.  The poor infrastructure was nothing new and yet this time seemed a bit more harsh on the nerves.  My health more than Sue’s has been questionable almost since the first week.  The only consistent condition is a perpetually stuffy nose.  Coughing, stomach problems, sinus infection, sore throat, lethargy and other various symptoms have been unique and relentless like waves to the shore.

So I’m endlessly thankful for Hong Kong.  A place of civility and modernity.  I couldn’t wait to get here.  I wondered if something happened.  India was always a favorite country.  Been there twice before.  Why is it now so difficult?  Why was Nepal not the wonderland others experienced?  I know health is a major factor in anyone’s ability to enjoy a place.  I don’t think it was entirely that.  I think it comes down to overexposure to one of the fundamental parts of the travel experience.  Randomness and change.

Sue and I spend over six months last year traveling.  This year we started by planning a big move to Japan for teaching.   In that planning, we parted with our dear kitties and our dear apartment – the place we could call home.  Come June, we started our vagabonding.  First in California and then Washington.  Returned to the East for some more random house-holding.  Planned this big four month trip.  Started this big four month trip.  That perpetual motion is exhausting.  The cliche is travel is not less for the experience at hand, but it is definitely more for the experience of home anew.  If our dreams of starting a home and getting a puppy are real.  If my desire to get home and really start working at our business feverishly are real.  If the cliche is real, then we may need to return home sooner.

What a thought.  Cut short travel when we already did so much work for it?  Doing something others only wish they could do?  Why can’t we just find a beach to sit on for the next two months?  I don’t know.  I wish I had the answer.  Sometimes illness can force your hand but wondering if it forces your hand before you’re ready becomes the ultimate question.  Will I feel better and regret returning?  Maybe.  Will I feel better knowing that I did what I could and made a big-boy decision?  Possibly.  Travel doesn’t always have to be right and feel right.  I guess that’s what extended travel enables you to learn.  The future will be determined today most likely.  I’m curious to see which hand we play.