The Ultimate Test

When I set out on this adventure, I anticipated challenges. These have included:

  • language barriers
  • difficulties with maintaining my diet
  • difficulties staying healthy in general
  • moments of loneliness

I did not, however, anticipate the characters that I’ve encountered on my tour of SE Asia!

Character number one, whom I called “a walking night market” due to her penchant for piling on LAYERS of clothes (i.e. several skirts, tops, Adidas track jacket, ball cap, crazy fake jewels, furry things, etc. etc. ALL IN ONE OUTFIT) and an addiction to shopping, departed the trip a few days ago, to the relief of the group. Besides questionable taste and a lack of fashion sense, she was NUTTY. Didn’t listen/misheard/imagined conversations, fought at every opportunity with our poor tour leader and her roommate (who are both lovely and couldn’t have been more accommodating with her). Honestly, she was nuts. It was draining waiting around for her to show up late every day and then complain about not having enough time to do things, that we weren’t speaking to her, that the tour leader was treating her like a child, whilst she short-changed locals during the bargaining process (or “baby entrepreneurs” as she called the kids trying to sell her bracelets) and bought the most RANDOM crap of all time. Strange foods from vendors? Check. More skirts to pack into an exploding suitcase? Check. Fake fingernails that we saw during traditional Thai dancing? Check check. She also seemed determined to seek out trouble, which was evident by her frequent late-night walks on her own. At any rate, it was a RELIEF when she finally gave up and bailed on the tour, as she’d seemed hell-bent on getting our tour leader to quit first.

So one nut down. On to my roommate.

She’s a quirky old lady. Sometimes we laugh. I am trying to be respectful and appreciative of the age difference. However, when I forked over my money I didn’t sign up to be a 24/7 caregiver with the following grievances:

  • I wake up every morning, before my alarm goes off, to her alarm clock, which is an old-school one that RINNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGS for five minutes before she figures out how to turn it off. The clock itself I have no problems with, save for the fact that it is perpetually 15 minutes slow. We discuss this EVERY DAY, yet she winds it up again and is puzzled why it’s “not the right time, eh?”
  • The constant use of “eh”.
  • If the clock doesn’t get me first, her immediately picking up a conversation with me does. This also happens when I am falling asleep. Full-on outdoor voice.
  • The snoring and/or random yelling in her sleep. And if she’s not snoring, I think she has mad sleep apnea because I lie awake waiting for another breath to ensure she’s still alive. This in turn is likely giving me a sleep disorder.
  • Pam. Everyone is named Pam. Except NO ONE on the tour is named Pam. It started with one woman. Then I became Pam. Our tour leader, Mr. T, is called Mr. Lee, Mr. B, but never the right name either. Who is Pam?!
  • Her refusal to chew with her mouth closed. Personal pet peeve.
  • Her refusal to accept that Asian cultures enjoy spicy foods, and therefore foods here will indeed be spicier. We almost resorted to a muay thai boxing match this evening over this, and I nearly lost my mind as she hasn’t eaten dinner in several days and is beyond stubborn about it. Don’t insult the locals by sending food back or demanding other things when there’s a language barrier – their concepts of westernized food will obviously be different! I have had a stomach virus for four days but am still willing to try stuff!
  • She gets angry so easily. The other night we were going to look at something and she brushed the idea aside, insisting that our tour leader immediately “get her a truck”. It is a walking tour! Physical fitness is a requirement. As is general courtesy/kindness to others!
  • Granny pants hanging in the bathroom. Me going in with glasses off and getting tangled in granny pants. OH THE HUMANITY.

Honestly, I am trying really hard. I think I am a very patient individual. I don’t like venting about others but I know that she won’t ever read this as she can’t use her debit card and didn’t understand what a cell phone was, so I think I’m safe. Send kind thoughts. I need wisdom on how to survive this (without resorting to violence, please).

Otherwise, the rest of my trip I’ll be eating these to relieve the stress (and my clothes are already getting snug):


13 thoughts on “The Ultimate Test

  1. Georgie’s mum sent a copy of her email of an update and the reference to your website. Hang in there. How on earth did you get roomed with a 75 year old? You’d have been much better off with Georgie!

    1. I have amazing luck, I think! We were actually paired as they match people up by country, and we’re both Canadian! This situation is providing ample entertainment for the rest of the tour group, on the plus side…

  2. Samantha – just how old is this lady and remember this
    is coming from your Auntie Sue. Your mother and I may
    not be too far off from becoming just like this nutbar!
    Love you and am thoroughly enjoying your blogs. Makes me
    laugh or cry everyday.

  3. Just noticed something on the pic of you and the giant ice cream. The guy in the background – his T-shirt – what the heck is on it but from here it looks like
    something other than a sausage or hot dog – think
    something similar shaped. I know what your Mum is going
    to say “trust Sue to notice that”.

    1. I think it’s a hot dog! Good eye Auntie Sue! And she’s 77. Frankly, I don’t think the nuttiness is all due to age. I think she’s just crazy in many ways!

      And that sundae was delicious everyone. Totally worth it.

  4. Sam, I am with your Auntie Sue on a number of things. Firstly, I love your blog. Your writing is so brilliant I think I am there with you. And you make me laugh.

    Secondly, the dude behind you does have something funny on his shirt. Maybe a hotdog, maybe not….

    I say to hell with the diet and do whatever you need to keep sane.

    And since I’m in love with your Auntie Sue because of the hotdog comment, I say your roomie is just plain crazy and it has nothing to do with age.

    Kudos to you for being patient and caring. That says volumes about you.

  5. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry! I think I might do both! You would think that someone who is willing to travel to someplace very foreign would be a little bit more open-minded but, people are dumb…period.

    This blog was really funny! Your writing paints a very clear picture – I can easily imagine the crazy lady wearing 12 layers of clothing in hot-humid heat!!

    I agree with everyone else: I love the hat, the hair, and ESPECIALLY the giant sundae!!!

  6. Advice I live by: ear plugs. I squirmed and laughed hard on the subway, surrounded by strangers, at the granny pants. That and I would discreetly throw the clock away while she wasn’t looking, you could replace it with a cheap and simple digital and blame it on housekeeping. đŸ˜‰ and when you are out I would ignore her with “mmm hmmm” mumbles and not ever respond to Pam. And EVERYONE needs to learn how to chew with their mouth closed, it is a painful life lesson that needs learning. Tell her you read “touring Asia for dummies” and it told you it is an (international) cultural faux-pas. On another note: you look fab! Love the chapeau!

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