Starting my indefinite backpacking adventure revisiting Malaysia seemed liked a flawless fit at the time. After spending the night sleeping at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend Audrey Bergner, was the first glimpse I had into reality that I am now backpacking as a thirty something and not a wide-eyed twenty year old.
The idea that we’d start off our trip pinching pennies by sleeping overnight at the airport – while catching the first bus to Malacca – seemed like an infallible plan straight out of my frugal backpacker playbook; however, as I laid down on the cold petrous marble floor, I couldn’t help but notice the aches penetrating throughout my back and the thoughts slowly creeping into my head: “What on earth are you doing sleeping on the floor.”
There was a time – not long ago – that I would have not had even a second thought about sleeping overnight at an airport that offered less than stellar reclining options.
The second realization that things were a little different this time around came when I checked into one of my favorite guest houses in all of SE Asia – Sama Sama located in the heart of Chinatown in downtown Malacca.
This unique guest house is famed for its lush leafy plants, open air spaces, creaky staircases and crumbling colonial charms and quirks.
With docile cats that stretch themselves across the length of the floor, mosquito nets and fan only rooms this guest house oozes character in ways many other establishments could only dream of; however, as I laid down in bed with beads of sweet trickling down my forehead and my computer turned on without any wifi connection, I internally murmured: “How am I going to get any work done? Is it really ‘okay’ that I’m sweating profusely even though I’m not really moving.”
A guest house I once called home for nearly a fortnight was now a place that didn’t meet my current level of expectations.
As I checked out of my room the following morning, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness as I stepped over the ‘three legged cat’ that had been lying in the exact same spot back in 2008.
The realization that I’m getting older and require a different level of comfort now that I’m working as I travel (as opposed to just backpacking) really sunk in with clarity at that exact moment.
To be perfectly honest, it’s sad when a place you once loved – even cherished – no longer fits the bill.
The reality is that when you travel, much like any other experience in your life, needs change as do people.
The days of being a carefree backpacker looking for ways to shave down my expenses at every corner and extend my journey as long as possible are an illusion that no longer corresponds with my lifestyle.
I have to admit that at times I want to roll back the clock and transform myself into the young backpacker that once absorbed every experience like a sponge; but that would simply be fighting reality.
In my experience when you do fight reality it brings upon great doses of anxiety and stress. Instead of lamenting over the fact Sama Sama Guest House is no longer the perfect fit, I’m instead going to look at it as a sort of graduation; moving from one point to another in the succession of events that is called my life.
I’ll always have fond memories of my time at Sama Sama as a young backpacker, but now it’s time for me to make new memories in new places as my journey continues.
It’s the same-same but different – and I’m okay with that 🙂