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I am approaching the age that my 20-year-old self used to see as some distant thing in the future that seemed impossible, like time travel, and then one day my 30-year-old self said, “well shit, if 30 years old and the Internet can happen, then 40 is looking a little more real.” But now I am approaching it with less impending doom that I expected.

Rudyard Kipling wrote, “the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” No kidding. I’ve spent a great deal of time in South East Asia. My senses have been abused beyond what I thought possible, to the point where the sight of some things don’t affect me like they once did.

Me Thursday morning: “We’re going to Sapa today! We’re going to hike in the mountains in the fresh, cool air. I have such a good feeling about Sapa and overnight bus rides are always fun!” My friend mirrored my enthusiasm on our last day in Hanoi. We slogged through humidity thicker than chocolate pudding, dodging cars and motorbikes as we crossed the street.

I’ve avoided writing about this for some time because I fear it exposes my ineptness as a world traveller and an aspiring good person who is clouded by materialism. I am clumsy-minded, prone to inner torment and attached insensibly to things that have very little value in my goal towards being a more spiritual person. But here goes…

CAUTION: I’ve used the word NASTY prolifically in this blog, for good reason because no synonym seems to suffice. And, I am going to make some huge generalizations here about “gendered” hygiene, totally culturally specific and from my experience being a woman and living and travelling with boys (and by boys I mean grown men, you know, the ones who put their dirty backpack on the bed!).

My husband moved to Korea to teach English about 10 years ago. His boss picked him up from the bus station and promptly brought him to the school where Stephen would be teaching all the little darlings. First day off the plane ended up being his first day of work. If you have worked in Korea before, you know this is not out of the ordinary.

I would be a big, fat liar if I said that TESOLers who blow their money drive me bonkers. In reality, I know how exhilarating it can be to spend all that shiny, new cash we make from teaching on clothes, dining out, drinks, and whatever else suits our fancies. Spending money is fun, but what I've come to realize, is that saving money is oh-so-much-more gratifying.

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