I sat in the doctor’s surgery, coughing woman to my right, sneezing toddler to my left (whom I’m sure kept wiping his snotty little fingers on my coat), feeling my blood pressure rising steadily and wanting to kill most of the people in the room, as long as their various diseases didn’t finish them off first. And why? Why in God’s name was I here? All for the sake of travel.
Travelling is stressful – we spend the days leading up to departure freaking out, running all over the place, trying not to die before we reach that final destination. In fact, we’re so stressed that often the holiday or trip, the chance to unwind, is scuppered from the start. But we love it. We love the adventure…or at least the promise of it; we count down the days, add up our holiday hours and pack our bags weeks in advance. Unless you’re me, employing the method of shoving everything into a suitcase an hour before I have to leave.
I hate travelling, but I love discovering different destinations, and this time I was preparing for the trip of a lifetime: fourteen different locations – Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, San Antonio, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey and New York – in sixty-six days. What’s more exciting, I would be staying with foodies all over the world (including my very own Delia-Smith-of-Hong-Kong grandmother, and a supreme foodie aunt in Sydney) and food bloggers I’d never met before, who had opened up their homes to me, no questions asked. I even had some foodie friends who were travelling into the cities I was visiting, just to meet me. I’d be eating at some of the best restaurants in the world, cooking with some of my food heroes, all the while struggling to keep my weight down (good luck me); and for all of this, a total of fifty-five hours travelling. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.
So here I was in the doctor’s surgery, listening to the most dramatic and morbid classical music ever composed – as if it were saying, “just give up now – you’ll be dead soon enough”. At the rate patients were being called in to see the doctor or nurse, it looked like I may well be dead before I made it to the airport.
Suddenly a voice drew me from my reverie: they were calling me in, hallelujah! In my haste to get this over and done with I stood, catching one of my coat buttons on the chair, which pinged off, the sound reverberating throughout the small room. As one, the surrounding heads turned to stare at me. The child to my left stuck his finger in his nose and dug for a nugget of nasal gold, which he then wiped on my sleeve. I mumbled something about retrieving the button later and hurried after the doctor, red-faced, blood pressure sky high, shoving paper and pen into my bag.
Not a great start, I’m sure you’d agree, but it would all be worth it, because in forty-eight hours I’d be in Hong Kong, eating my way through a giant steaming bowl of wonton mein (wonton noodles), sipping on gook fah cha (Chrysanthemum tea), barely understanding a word of Cantonese around me (because I’m the awesome kind of Asian who knows practically nothing of her culture), but thoroughly enjoying myself. I could hardly wait.
I’m Jackie, I’m a massive food geek, and whilst I hate the travel, I love the destination. Follow my foodie adventures through Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and America on my Odyssey and eat with me…well, vicariously at least.
Jackie’s Food Odyssey will be featured regularly in The Arbuturian over the coming weeks. You can also follow Jackie on Twitter, reporting on the fly while she travels, eats and imbibes.