Before I started this trip, one of the women at work asked if I was trying to do an "Eat, Pray, Love."
Leaving aside the condescension of that particular question, I was surprised that anyone would think other people actually act like that.
(I haven't read the book, but I'm not a fan of the movie - saw it on an airplane - and thought it was incredibly self-indulgent. It must be so much easier to have a spiritual and emotional awakening when you've already got a book deal lined up.)
But cynicism aside, that's not a story I recognise; it's not my story, and it's not the story of anyone I know.
I came on this trip because I'd always wanted to see South-East Asia. Because I love the food (I'll cop to the "Eat" part of the title; I do love a good bowl of soup noodles.... mee rebus....satay celup....bun cha...I'd better stop before I start drooling on my keyboard). Because I wanted to experience what it was like to be on vacation for a prolonged period. I wanted a gap year (although technically all I could afford was a gap 3.5 months).
I don't pray. I'm a happy atheist.
Holiday romances don't last - it's why they're called holiday romances, instead of romances.
And frankly, the one woman I met on the trip who's lived on an Ashram was a massive hypocrite.
So I'm happy to say that my trip bears no resemblance to Eat, Pray, Love whatsoever.
(Except for the bit about the eating.)