As I look around our slightly grungy fleapit of a motel room in the even more grungy border town of Aranyaprathet, I have to face facts.
I am homesick.
But I’m not homesick for home. I’m homesick for our camp stove; I miss our tent.
When we were in Europe, these two things kept us grounded. They made us feel like each day, no matter what exciting or bizarre or scary things happened, each night we would return home. No matter what patch of ground we found to set it up on, as soon as we were zipped inside the tent each night, it felt like sleeping in our own beds.
The routine of nosing around the local grocery store or market to find the right ingredients for a nourishing dinner was comforting.
Setting up our tent, laying out our sleeping bags, and spending the evening chopping and cooking acted as an anchor for our days.
Buy This Book
I recently got my first look at Bike. Camp. Cook: A Bicycle Touring Cookbook.
The author is Tara Alan of Going Slowly fame, whose trip around the world with her husband Tyler, and their web journals and photos, inspired our journey and our site.
The recipes and pictures are so beautiful, I felt a little like crying when I started to read it.
I immediately wanted to try every recipe in the book, and I know I won’t be able to for who knows how long. If you cycle tour, or camp, or travel by sail boat, or just really want some amazing simple recipes to try out at home, you should definitely get Bike.Camp.Cook. It is breathtakingly awesome.
Now that we are in Southeast Asia, where a tent just wouldn’t make sense, we sleep in a new bed almost every night. Sometimes our bed is a comfy mattress dressed in sparkling white sheets. Sometimes it is so hard, we might as well be sleeping on the floor. Sometimes it is a lumpy monster, with threadbare and grungy sheets, like the one I’m sitting on now.
To mitigate this ongoing daily strangeness, we have subconsciously developed a routine to home-ify our surroundings, no matter where we end up.
As soon as we arrive in each new hotel, we unpack our storage sacks of clothing (Pack-It Specter™ Cube Sets) and set them out on whatever flat surface is provided. Then we dig into our clothing panniers one more time and take out our rolled-up Thermarest pack pillows. We loosen the toggles and shake them around until they puff up into pillow shape again. We drop them on top of the hotel pillow, so our heads have something familiar to rest on.
They aren’t even close to clean, but at least the dirt is ours.
Depending on the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the sheets provided, we then find our silk hostel sheets and remove them from their carrying case. When they’re both spread out on the bed, I can pretty much forget about the icky-ness of sleeping on sheets and beds that have seen far too many bodies and far too few bottles of bleach in their years.
Next, I peel my sticky cycling clothes off and get into the shower. If the bathroom is nice, I take my time, making sure every inch is soaped and rubbed clean. If the bathroom is grimy, leaky, smelly, or all three, I get in and out as quickly as possible, doing just enough washing to remove the day’s work from my skin.
Then it’s laundry time. A quick scrub and rinse of the today’s dirty clothes means fresh-smelling, if not exactly clean, clothes to put on tomorrow.
After all this is done, we can kick back and get to work, writing and editing photos to share with you.
It might not feel exactly like coming home, but until we’re reunited with our camping gear, or we finally hang up our bike helmets, it’ll have to do. ♥
Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.