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A few things I wish I'd learned

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The idea of studying up for a round-the-world trip seems perverse, but now that we're on the tail end of our journey, I do wish that I'd spent a couple of months learning a few skills before we set out.

  • Photography: I didn't really understand how much help a photography course would be until we started using our DSLR. With our old camera, I could write off the inability to take good photos of certain things as a technical limitation. Now I know that my camera is capable of getting beautiful shots of the fireworks at Hoi An, the sprawling neon lights of Bangkok, or the delicate colors of a butterfly's wings in Sydney. The camera lacks an "idiot button" allowing it to take more than passable photos without my involvement, however.
  • Motorcycle riding: Especially in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, motorcycles often outnumber cars. In Ko Chang (where we are this week), motorcycle rental is the most convenient way to tour the island. I haven't driven a motorbike or scooter since I was underage and my parents let me take a (closely supervised) wheel in the Cayman Islands. Needless to say, a mountainous island with relatively sparse hospital facilities is not the place that I'd most like to learn.
  • Spanish: It would have been utterly unrealistic to try to learn every foreign language that we would need on this trip. Southeast Asia alone has a prohibitive variety of languages. Nevertheless, a grounding in Spanish would have stood me in good stead throughout South America. At the very least, I would not have needed a crash course in Spanish numbers from Pallavi prior to my Argentinian poker game.

On the other hand, I'm glad that we learned to scuba dive before we left Texas, as it has literally added another dimension to our travels. [1]

[1] Only those with the most literal minds will think that I'm violating the Oatmeal's style guide here, in that anyone planning on flying is already intending to travel in the directions "up" and "down." (Maybe NSFW. Also, I sort of want that shirt.)

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I actually disagree with learning scuba beforehand. Particularly for anyone thinking of learning in a pool in "the west".

You can get excellent teachers, in somewhere warm *and* interesting, and have it be much cheaper in somewhere like Thailand. I had one session in the pool, one in the extreme shallows, and then after that the rest of the teaching was interspersed with good stuff.

Just another point of view. I'm totally with you on the others.

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