Almost five months in seems like an ideal time for a frivolous topic…vanity. If you’ve been following our blog & thought I was a down to earth gal unconcerned with appearance, I will now disappoint you.
How does one keep beautified from the road? Not very well. Here’s the straight truth for my gal friends who appreciate a little maintenance.
My much beloved flat iron sits back at home. Less than a quarter of the places we stay have a blow dryer. My stylist back home, who kept my locks blonde, does not do rtw housecalls. In going brunette again, I was confronted with an army of gray hairs. Safe to say, a good hair day is a rare sight.
In Lao, I desperately needed a cut. There was a rumor in Luang Prabang that all hairdressers cut with razors — that only one stylist has an actual pair of scissors & that’s the one the falangs go to. I had also heard that the stylist was a “lady boy.” I spent my appointment trying to ascern whether my hair dresser was really a man or a woman but more importantly learned that one inch doesn’t translate and I became the owner of a very short & very uneven Prince Valiant bob. Alas, hair grows.
Those who travel to SE Asia insist that you must get regular massages. They are ridiculously cheap…$7 or so for an hour!
In Luang Prabang, I asked my Aussie neighbor where to go. This is almost verbatim what she said, “I go right around the corner. There are three blind men. It’s only $6 & its very basic but they’re quite good. There’s a simple mattress you lie on…I think its actually their bed…& they just go at it.” Now, this is a well put together professional young woman so I knew I wasn’t getting the full picture. But I thought to myself “Can I lie naked on a blind man’s bed?” Decidedly no.
When I did finally get a massage, I learned that one doesn’t strip down as we are accustomed to in the U.S. Instead one wears somewhat loose pajamas. And after investigation, the blind masseurs turned out to be a very reputable Red Cross organization.
Tevas — did I mention how much I hate my tevas? You can be svelt & tall with long flowing locks & an adorable outdoor outfit from Lulumon but you put on those tevas…and you’re just another granola hippie. Now I can say this because I grew up surrounded by granola hippies…my parents were granola hippies…I KNOW the look & I don’t want to replicate it so why on earth did I buy Tevas?? Yech. Hate them. First thing in the trash when this trip ends. DYING for my FitFlops. Yeah, say what you want, it’s the truth.
I’m a corporate girl. I have a corporate face. MAC helps me put it together each morning. I hadn’t planned on bringing make up on this trip. In the end I did bring down a pared down bag. What’s been interesting along the way is when I’ve felt the need to put it on. At home, it was EVERY day. On the road, I admit I’ve been influenced by where we’ve been. Cambodia? Nope, not a lick. Tokyo? Every day!
It’s been a great lesson for me how, even at 44 years old, I let myself be influenced. Being in a modern city like Tokyo or Munich, where the women around me have coiffured hair, make up & beautiful clothes…I can feel inadequate. The only thing I can do some days — short of a shopping spree, which is NOT what this trip is about — is put on a little blush & mascara & pretend my tevas are stilettos.
Oh lord. There is NO variation in my wardrobe. I have to say, I do love my Ex-Officio Bugs Away pants. Good thing, I wear them almost EVERY day.
Smart wool socks. They are the bomb. Nuff said.
Shirts. I alternate two t-shirts from Everlane — they are identical v-neck shirts but one is black & one is navy. They were produced in the US, inexpensive & I love them. They are not quick drying but I can put on a necklace & sort of fool myself that I’m dressed up.
In the U.S., we are snackers. Oh, it’s between meals? I must eat a snack to tide me over. In Japan & SE Asia, this was decidedly not the case & between the lack of snacking, amount of walking & small meal sizes, I lost weight. Sweet!
Of course, within two weeks of our landing in Germany, this was reversed. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH BIG PORTION SIZES IN MY LIFE. And yes, thank you, I’m aware I don’t have to eat it just because it’s in front of me.
Kyle and I do a 7-minute work out app on the ipad daily. Is it effective? Uh, it’s a 7-minute work out.
So there you go…vanity on the road. It still exists & surges in cosmopolitan cities but there’s little recourse whether in a small Lao village or in downtown Buenos Aires, I can only rock my Ex-Officios…and I’m ok with that.