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Cowboys in Asia

My first night in Saigon, I haven’t slept in two days. I am past the point of being tired—wired, where no self-medication will suffice. The host at the front desk says I look weary and suggests that I go to the spa, “Ahh, night massage. Good for you. Help you get rest.” After cramming my […]

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The Veteran

Bangkok is not the kind of place you want to spend any time trying to relax or heal. I found myself wandering down the more ancient, narrow streets where stray dogs roam the alleys and (I never understood this) caged birds hang from the streetlamps. Walking in the dark alone felt dangerous, only if you […]

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Same Same

World travel, backpacking culture, and tourism, in general, breeds a certain type. Take the guy sharing a sleeper on my train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. He is wearing Thai pants and has matted blonde hair, grown stringy past his shoulders. His eyes are kind, but shifty, casual, as if to say, “I’ve done this […]

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Plastic

When I was 16 I told my parents that I wanted breast implants. I asked them if it were possible to consider it an “investment,” kind of like paying for piano lessons or gymnastics or college: “But think of the opportunities! The opened doors! I could do anything!” They didn’t buy it. Like any good […]

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Star-Crossed

My first night in a Melbourne hostel, I am hesitant, feeling slightly too old and also out of place from what appears to function much like a college dorm mixer, replete with ice breakers, drinking games and awkward conversations that lead to generic questions, like, “So do you have any siblings?” In a couple days, […]

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Nine Lives

Sometimes I like to count the number of times I have narrowly escaped death. Once I fell backwards off a two story balcony. Another time, I got swept into white water rapids and carried down a 15-foot waterfall. I was caught by a lawn chair and some large puddles, respectively. Choking on the hamburger at summer camp. […]

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Smitten

I was watching a documentary in Australia about pin-up girls during World War II who had their addresses printed in the corner of their page in the magazine. The models would receive thousands of love letters from the soldiers, many very heartfelt and convincing. Sometimes the love letters would cease and they discovered that the […]

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Dear John

Women traveling alone have the burden of fending off both criminals as well as those simple perverts who are too stupid to understand what unwanted attention looks like. There was the guy in St. Augustine who followed me down the beach: “I have 4 miles to walk, so any direction is fine. Which way are […]

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Reality at 30,000 Feet

Travel by plane is like marriage: committed, statistically safe, but always with the nagging feeling that you are going to be stuck for a long-time. At some point in your flight, as in your marriage, you may want to jump out the exit door, but instead, you sit patiently, quietly wanting to strangle the guy […]

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Uncharted Fate

I stayed overnight in Asheville, North Carolina with a professional psychic—the kind that answers 1-900 numbers and calls herself something mystical like “Raven.” She also has a WASPY given name, is Harvard educated and raising a child on her own. Something made me trust in her ability to give single women advice like, “No, he definitely […]

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