Keeping It Real…

Traveling by backpack is not as cool as it may sound.  In the past, we have done it for 7 months (Western Europe and Scandinavian countries) and then for a 1-month trip (Eastern Europe) and we remember the first few weeks being rather tough.  As we adjust from the desk job to this life our hips are sore, we have bruises, our feet are KILLING us, our backs ache, our shoulders are raw and our legs feel like jelly!

Oh, and that is just after the first day of venturing out on our own!!

But hey, we are “living the dream”.

It goes something like this …

Throw 45lb backpack on back, curse and swear at yourself for bringing 5 pairs of underwear instead of 3; throw 10+lb daypack on your front, rush to catch bus, reach destination, throw said backpacks back on and begin to find your way through a strange city to the $60 (CDN) room you booked on-line.  Only this city, Singapore, is 35C with 85% humidity before the rain and you know you are likely about to check into the most unrewarding room you have ever booked for $60.  After figuring out the metro system (a pleasure in Singapore), we reach our drop off station.  However, DOH, we forgot to get directions to the hotel from the metro station!

Oh my, we are out of practice.

Waiting at the bus station with Christine’s pack on the ground

We ask for help and start walking in the direction a friendly stranger told us to head towards.  The sun is beating down, it is 4:00pm, the asphalt intensifies the heat, the sweat is pouring off of us and those pesky little thoughts begin to emerge …

“Why am I doing this?  We are 48 years old, what are we thinking?  We walked away from awesome employment to do this? (Thank you so much Chris (Christine’s boss) for approving her 1 year leave of absence – not sure if I can make it that long).  Man it stinks here, I wish I was at home right now! I thought I loved the heat… but now I would prefer the cold outside and being curled up in front of a fireplace! I think my legs are going to buckle, why did I let myself get out of shape?” … and the thoughts continue …

But hey, we are “living the dream”.

Christine booked the room, because ‘yours truly’ (the Black Cloud returned in a different format) got sick again and decided to get a cold the day before we take the bus trip (the First Aid kit gets raided again for decongestants before my pounding headache turns me into a ‘whining snivelling little man’).  Oops, I left employment where I never used a sick day only to get sick twice when no one is paying for me to be sitting at home ill?

After 20 minutes walking in the intense heat with my head throbbing, snot running down my nose and knees wobbling, a new thought appears… I want to say, “Christine, why the heck did you book this room soooo far from the metro stop”.   I want to say it so badly! I feel like garbage and it would feel so good to complain, it would make me feel so much better… but 23 years of experience and a desire to sleep IN the bed this evening forces those evil thoughts to the back of my head.  I continue to smile while we are aimlessly trying to find our hotel in a very Asian part of the city and I tell myself, everything will be just fine, “I am living the dream”.

After 30 minutes, we find our hotel. We check into our room (the size of a walk-in closet in a Canadian home), the sheets are torn, they have a brown stain on them, the curtains are 100 years old, and there is no shower curtain so you just soak everything!  Mold is creeping across the ceiling.  There is a cockroach I need to take care of before Christine sees it – the main reason she needs me on this trip – and I am soaked from the 1mm wisp of hair on my head to the bottom thread of my undies and socks.

I tell myself, while killing the cockroach buck-naked waiting for the air conditioning in the room to kick in, “I AM living the dream”.

Regarding underwear… SAXX underwear, incredibly popular in Canada, has a patented pouch system that keeps the male anatomy nestled nicely in a little package, preventing any swinging motion.  Canadian men can’t get enough of them!  They sell like hot cakes!  Christine thought it would be awesome for me to try them out for this trip and bought me 2.  I was thrilled and excited to now be with the ‘in-crowd’.  As it turns out, unless you like the feeling of steamed gonads (the outcome is great for the male ego), I say SAXX = ‘epic failure’ in the tropics and I have my eye open for a simple 3-pack of Fruit of the Loom tighty-whities (hey, after 23 years of marriage, I’m sure my CK’s have lost their ‘look at me’ appeal and Fruit of the Loom may be a nice addition to the family).  As soon as I can, the SAXX are being mailed home (clean of course) to mom in Alberta, Canada (moms are soooo cool)!

Finally, all too common statements by both of us (followed by a smile and or chuckle) have been…

I’m hot.

I’m soooo sticky.

Don’t touch me.

I’m so hot!

How can anyone live like this?

It’s so noisy.

Christine to Mark … “did you know you whine a lot?” Mark … “I’m a man, that is what I do best”.

I’m so incredibly hot!!

My ears are ringing.

Did you just touch me?

I think I smell!

My feet are on fire.

You are in my space.

My back is sore.

My feet hurt.

That said, the travelling is awesome and we are so fortunate to be doing this and experiencing it all with each other… we are… living the dream!

DSC00576More photos coming as we find internet strong enough to load pictures.

Mark and Christine


P.S. As we sit down to enter this post, mom Fillion emails to say that Uncle Joe has passed away in BC.  We celebrated his 80th birthday in Vancouver, BC in 2014.  He was an amazing man full of life and laughter.  His gentleness, love of music, playing his harmonica and spoons will always be remembered.  We are thinking of you.  A reminder that life is short and we have to live every day to the fullest.

Uncle Joe (Mom’s younger brother) and Mom Fillion at Joe’s 80th in 2014

12 thoughts on “Keeping It Real…

  1. My favorite line here is when the snot runs down your nose and knees! And then I wonder why snot buckles like that. It’s happened also to me so I totally get it, Mark. And I would be remiss not to mention something about taking directions from locals. I have given directions to many, sent them on their way, only to realize a bit too late that I was so fn wrong. Lesson being, don’t believe anyone who looks like me! On a personal note, it is good to see we can embrace a frank discussion over the underwear situation. Keep that going! Christine can chime in on your next report, and you should sign off with: from Singapore, this is Black Cloud Coughing reporting. Now back to you, Nancy. *miss you guys*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoy your travels. You are an amazing writer, perhaps when you return you should get a degree in writing, and forget the nursing. You are too funny. Travel safe


  3. “We are living the dream” I love it!!!!!! That is my favourite comment. You are truly doing just that.
    I agree with your friends comment about you becoming a writer, you are very good at it (Jane Johnson, he certainly has a gift). You make me laugh and that’s the best medicine in the world, maybe that’s why you chose to be a nurse, you have another gift of making people feel better just in your words. 😊
    Amazing photo of mom and uncle too (brought a tear to my eyes)
    I love receiving your updates, keep them coming.
    Love lil sis,
    P.S. I’m gonna run out today and get my hubby a pair of those SAX undergarments you speak of. Maybe it will help him with his kidney stone condition. Lol.


    1. Howdy Lorraine. Thanks 🙂 Hey … maybe Kelly could use my Saxx? haha … how many people just went … ewwwwww!!! Seriously though … if anyone out there including you want to buy Saxx, go to their website and log in to get their emails. The underwear goes on sale all the time. Never pay full price 🙂


  4. The sticky heat reminded me of my motorcycle trip through Central America, bundled in my protective gear, 35 degrees, 90% humidity. Stopping for the night somewhere in Guatamala, I bent over to pick up a saddle bag off the ground, and watched a stream of sweat pour off my forehead and make a little puddle on the ground below me. I don’t even own a backpack any more. Everything I travel with now has wheels on it!


  5. We’re both enjoying hearing about you travels! You know those comments you listed? Most of them were also uttered on the Lamarre Christmas Caribbean Cruise 2015. Ha-ha. I guess we wouldn’t be very good backpackers:). Enjoy the heat. It could be worse!
    Love, Trina, Sharon & Annie


  6. Oh Mark and Christine – I truly hope things get better. Perhaps book in a nice hotel every 3-4 days and get a spa, massage and relaxation time in….thank you for sharing! We had another 2 inches of snow last night but only at plus 2 degrees so it is melting too….hugs Mick


    1. Hi Michelle … honest, no complaints. Starting out a trip like this is always difficult and my comments are said with a smile on my face. I didn’t even mind the cockroaches in our room, I just figured it is what it is. The first night in our current hotel, I had a nice marching line of ants (those little ones) going up the wall beside my bed. The bed cover was against the bed, so the ants were on my bed too. I just said “hi little ants”, pulled my bed away from the wall, and had the best sleep ever. The comments I share on this post will be “all real”, no flowers or sugar coating … you will get our highs and our lows and anything that goes through our head. I figure Lonely Planet covers off everything and folks do not need to hear us repeat what they say :):) Keep warm … would love some snow right now 🙂 We have chatted with some locals that would love some snow right now too :):) They say it is too hot for them!


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