“Man, this dhal bhat is delicious!” my girlfriend, Kaitlyn, said as she ate a large helping.
We were sitting in a small, local restaurant in Pokhara, Nepal, that had been recommended to us by a random man we met while we were in Vietnam.
I address him as a “random man” because we didn’t even take the time to get his name. But not getting someone’s name is no reason to turn down their restaurant recommendation.
So, there we were, sitting in a small white building that served as a home and a restaurant. I know this because I saw granny lying down in the back, resting while her family cooked various Nepali dishes. The scents of which floated over the wall dividing the sitting area from the kitchen.
The aroma of multiple spices filled my nostrils, clearing them of the remaining dust and dirt they had collected during our time in Kathmandu. The chicken sizzled on a pan as a small Nepali man sprinkled various seasonings on it. A young man sat by watching, occasionally strumming some songs on guitar and singing.
Finally, the teasing ended, and they brought the plates to the table.
The Dal Bhat sat on a plate with various side dishes such as steamed vegetables, a vegetable curry, and other things I’m unable to identify. We had ordered a chicken dish to go with it, too.
We wasted no time in diving into it.
About 30 minutes and some ugly eating scenes later, the two plates sat on the table, looking as if they never actually had food on them in the first place.
The meal was astounding. For the next half an hour, we enjoyed the family’s company. We sat, talking with them while the owner’s son jammed out a song on guitar.
As the sun went down, being the old people we are at the ripe ages of 27 and 24, we decided we’d head back to our hostel.
Strolling down the streets, we observed the daily life of Pokhara. We felt we couldn’t be living a better life. We had the opportunity to travel, experience new people and things, the typical cliché, right?
But, this is a story of the opposite. This is a story of the downs of travel. The things you don’t see on social networks. You only hear the stories when you’re a traveler yourself, or you’re friends with a traveler.
This is travel….after dark.
Fast-forward a few hours, Kaitlyn and I are hanging out in our hostel room. Actually, we were walking to different parts of the room, holding our laptops in different positions and heights.
We were trying to find the best Wi-Fi connection. If we found it, we could stream Netflix for five minutes before it buffers again. We could even get lucky and get 10 if we found an area with two bars of Wi-Fi!
“My stomach feels strange,” Kaitlyn said. Little did we know those four words were foreshadowing a miserable time ahead.
“Hmm, that’s weird. I feel okay. Maybe you should lay down. Hey, I think I got a good signal over here if I keep my laptop sitting upside down here on this unstable stack of books. Let’s see if it helps….”
An hour later, Kaitlyn was becoming very, very familiar with the bathroom. As in, trips every 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, I laid in bed, feeling quite alright. Even though I didn’t tell her, I was feeling lucky I wasn’t experiencing it.
“Whew,” I thought. “That has to be rough. I’m glad I’m not going through it.”
Now, I don’t know if I believe in fate, karma, and energies balancing things out in the Universe. But, something clearly heard those thoughts and decided it was time for me to join the misery party an hour later.
Well, that or the food poisoning had finally reached the right point in my body to kickstart my fun.
For the next 12 hours, Kaitlyn and I alternated running to the bathroom; any valve that held anything in our body was now wide open.
I felt like a toothpaste tube that had only a pinhead’s worth of toothpaste left in it. Sadly, whoever was squeezing me couldn’t afford another tube and was hell-bent on using every last drop.
We ran out of water and other fluids and didn’t have the energy to walk to a convenience store less than 500 meters away from our hostel. We weren’t able to hold any food down. Besides, we couldn’t even lay on a different side in bed without rushing to the bathroom.
Luckily, it subsided. Kaitlyn’s ended before mine because hers also kicked in earlier.
Being the beast she is, she dressed and mustered the strength to walk to the convenience store.
Meanwhile, I excused myself to continue the war going on in my insides.
We ended up recovering once our hostel owner’s wife learned of our condition; she sprang into action like the Nepali angel she is. She fixed us up and had us back to feeling somewhat human.
Despite this, I felt the drain this had taken on my body for at least a month afterward, if not longer.
I didn’t tell this story to scare anyone. Or to make a country out to be a bad place.
I love Nepal, the beautiful people, and especially the delicious food.
I tell these stories as a counter to the beautiful beaches, the weird flexes on Instagram, and the expensive villas you always see on the Internet. There’s a lot to travel that isn’t shown. And it isn’t glamorous in the slightest.
The layovers where you sleep on the floor of the airport. The worries over if your visa will get approved on your visa run. The loneliness of missing your family because COVID-19 ruined plans to fly home in the summer….the winter….and the following spring.
Travel comes with a set of problems you will need to confront and manage.
None of these reasons mean travel isn’t worth it or shouldn’t be pursued. In fact, these are the precise reasons you should travel.
If travel were only the good things you see on social media, how would you ever enjoy them?
Wouldn’t consistent beauty and grandeur become the norm after a while?
When you’re lying on the airport floor because there are no seats left to sleep on. Six hours are remaining on your layover. Gum someone threw on the floor stuck to your pants.
But, once you feel those plane wheels touch down at your destination, those bad feelings wash away.
So keep pushing on through the down moments.
If travel is beating you down, know you’re going to find yourself on that metaphorical beach again one day.
Maybe you’ll be sitting next to this tube of toothpaste, getting to hear me tell this story for the one-thousandth time.
I hope you enjoyed reading this story, and I’d love to hear your thoughts! As well, I enjoy hearing others’ stories—good and bad. So let me hear them in the comments!
- Looking to travel more this year? Well my post, Ways to save to travel more in 2021 and beyond, can help you save up more money so you can achieve that goal.
- Looking for a quiet getaway in Thailand? Khao Sok National Park is an excellent option for you! Be sure to read about it’s lush forests and beautiful lake in my post, Khao Sok National Park: The Hidden Gem of Southern Thailand.
- Have trouble packing? Want to travel lighter? Then check out my post, What I pack when I travel: A packing list for world travel. I’ll explain how you can slim down your packing so you can take less and enjoy your trip more.
- Do you enjoy reading? Then you may like my post, My Favorite Books from 2021. I give my favorite books from 2021 and explain why I enjoy them so much. I’d love to hear your recommendations as well.
- New to The Travel Runner and want to get an idea of what the site is all about? Then look no further than The Best of The Travel Runner in 2021 for a quick dose.