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I’ve experienced many relationships whilst travelling. I’ve created them, forged them, negotiated them, deconstructed them, unravelled them, fought them, dissected them, systematically destroyed them, sewn them back together, acquiesced to them. Relationships with food, nature, people, myself, money, security, fear, pain, loss, and grief–dear sweet grief. That’s what travelling does.

There’s an idea out there that long term travelers are constantly on holiday. I understand why it appears that way. One minute I’m in Vietnam motorbiking through the mountains and in the next moment I am in Thailand swimming in lagoons far too magical to be real and writing blogs about places I never knew existed a year ago.

Be careful what you ask for. Not just because you might get exactly what you want and few things are more heartbreaking than that, but you may not actually know what it is you’re asking for. That’s the heartbreak bit.

It’s uncomfortable, dangerous, and it costs money. But it will take you under the seas, over the mountains, and through yourself. To travel is the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ll make it a thousand times more. Because of travel, I’ve managed to cram about a hundred mini lives into my given one.

I’ve been in Southeast Asia a long time. So long that when I thought about writing my next blog, indicators you’ve travelled in Southeast Asia a long time, I was a bit stumped. I thought about it as I took a shower and delighted in the ease at which I can go from toilet to sink to shower all in the same space. And later, as I walked down a tiny soi somewhere in old town Chiang Mai.

An Italian man once said to me, “Colleen, you’re approaching the age of deterioration. You can’t live the way you’re living for too much longer. People won’t receive you as well as you get older. You won’t be as pretty, your body won’t be as fit. That’s how it is for women.” I was 35.

You know life is pretty good when you have a stack of really, really good books next to your bed and you’ve been having too much fun to read them. That’s usually a sign of happiness for me anyways. That stack is a sweet reflection of my life at the moment.

Imagine Marilyn Monroe and Nicki Minaj in one body. Retro-classic sexuality, if there is such a thing, crossed with contemporary female vulgarity. This is Mimi, but with a Mickey Mouse heart. I met Mimi during my 10-week Thai massage course. She was that tough, outspoken woman who, from across the room, transcended every boundary of femininity that I knew.

I recently added “Forward Thinker” to my character adjectives on my website. To represent it as a proper noun is an attempt to treat my newfound trait with the importance it deserves. And to perhaps use it to replace a less-attractive trait, like Unsuccessful Decision-Maker or Occasional Flosser. It is a New Year’s resolution of sorts.

As I drove a friend to the airport a few days ago, I realized that one indicator that you live in a good place is the length of time it takes to drive to the airport. And I write that with all seriousness and anyone who lives in a big city will understand why. Hours of your life can be lost to airport drives. I live in Chiang Mai, a village-like city in Northern Thailand.

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