Many things can go wrong when traveling. You may lose your phone, have your luggage stolen or God forbid you contract Malaria or Dengue Fever. Thankfully, travel insurance covers all of these tragic events but what it doesn’t cover, is when you choose the wrong people to travel with.
As you travel, you will meet new people everywhere you go. Sometimes you will only know them for one night. Sometimes you’ll wish you only knew them one night. I’m not saying they will be horrible people, only they wont be the right fit for you. Think George Clooney as Batman or Kanye West as President. Terrible right?
When traveling in Myanmar, myself and Cathy met a couple from Canada. When we first met them, Amanda was sick and bed bound so we never got much of a chance to get to know her. Although James seemed like a nice enough guy. Over a few beers one night we decided since both couples were heading in the same direction, it would be a good idea to travel together. And it was. Everyone got along great. We would tell tales about the adventures we had been on and where we planned to visit. You know, general travel chat.
By the end of the second day alarm bells started ringing. Little annoyances started to creep through their personalities and certain traits would get on my nerves. When they spoke, the last vowel in their words lasted longer than it should. Think Californians saying they are from “Californiaaaa.” Being from Scotland I shouldn’t really criticise anyone’s accent. Often people look at me with blank stares and with wonder at what unusual language I speak. At times I have even been praised on my ability to speak English with such fluency. Despite our concerns, we pressed the snooze button on the alarm and send our concerns back to sleep.
The following morning we organised a tour by tuk tuk. It wasn’t long before our patience started to deteriorate. The small alarm bell we snoozed before, was now an alarm the size of the liberty bell and someone was clobbering it with a sledgehammer. Throughout the day, Amanda compared Canada to other countries she had visited. Critiquing every dissimilarity each country had and how it could improve to be more like Canada. For someone who spoke about how extensively she had traveled, I thought her comments to be rather narrow-minded. Then there was non-stop slander towards other cultures from James who had never left North America. He would say how it’s “disgusting” that people eat with their hands instead of using cutlery. How could he have made it this far in life without eating a slice of pizza or a burger with his hands? Incredible.
The one remark that was repeated several times throughout the day, which made me and Cathy look at each other and have a telepathic chuckle was how, “Americans are just sooo louuud aaall the tiiiime.” A splendid comment coming from the loud, obnoxious Canadians.
It was time to take a break from sight-seeing and snidey comments and go for lunch. I ordered the ginger beef stir-fry served up with a variety of vegetables such as: baby corn, broccoli, bean sprouts and baby carrots creating a very colorful dish. I singled out a baby carrot to try first. As it was about to grace my taste buds Amanda said, “Baby carrots are an abomination to carrots.”
“What do you mean baby carrots are an abomination to carrots? What’s wrong with baby carrots? I love baby carrots. They’re just like big carrots but smaller,” I said before devouring that delicious, little, perfectly-shaped, bright orange carrot.
With a hint of anger aimed towards the next baby carrot on my fork Amanda said, “The way they are produced is just terrible. There is so much waste. They take carrots that are not good-looking and shave them down until they look like perfect little carrots. Just awful. A waste of food.” Apparently the extended vowels in her words disappear when she is angry.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing? Who knew baby carrots were such an evil creation from the food industry. In the interest of not wasting anymore carrots, I scoffed each and every one of them. I wonder if it is just baby carrots she has a problem with? What about the baby corn? Did they get the chance to enjoy a fulfilling life in the corn fields, grow up to be full-sized corn, be slathered in butter, wrapped in foil and thrown on the barbecue?
After the extensive education of baby carrots and to what was fast becoming an extremely awkward dinner, myself and Cathy were already reluctant to engage in much more conversation, when James added fuel to the fire by saying, “Isn’t it funny that you are ginger and are eating ginger beef for lunch?”
“Why is that funny? I don’t find that funny,” I said gritting my teeth
No response. Silence fell over the dinner table. Tensions were rising.
“I thought it was funny,” Amanda mumbled under her breath to James.
A quick look over to Cathy, she gave me a little shake of her head as to say don’t make it worse than it already is. I took Cathy’s advice and enjoyed the remainder of lunch without as much as one word directed in their direction, with the exception of settling the bill.
Trying not to let them ruin the rest of our day we decided to be amicable. By amicable I mean keep chat to a minimum. We toured around for a while longer before being driven to the bus terminal to book our tickets for the following day.
As we were looking around the bus terminal Cathy said to me, “Whatever direction they decide to go tomorrow, we go the opposite.”
“Agreed, ten four, roger that,” I said without hesitation.
“So where are you taking the bus to tomorrow?” we asked.
“We’re going to head North towards Inle Lake,” James answered.
“Aww that’s a shame we go South from here,” we said as we walked towards the ticket vendor.
With tickets booked we hopped into the tuk tuk and returned to our hotel, retired to our room, closed the door and took a deep breath. At the exact same time we blurted out “I think I liked Amanda better when she was sick!”
So before you decide on your next travel buddy (or Buddies) here is something to be mindful of. Listen for cliché sayings along the lines of “I really felt a connection with that place,” “Traveling has made me a more spiritual person,” and my personal favorite, “Traveling has really cleansed my soul.” I don’t know about you guys but I have a tough time cleaning my clothes when traveling, never mind the extensive deep clean my soul would need. And most importantly, don’t forget to ask for their opinions on baby carrots.