A Backpacker’s Wardrobe

Well, it’s happened. I’ve reached an inevitable impasse, one I fear is a point of no return. I knew it’d eventually come. I had glimpses of its arrival while walking the streets of Hong Kong almost 3 months ago. I found myself starting to think about it more and more while perusing the markets in Luang Prabang. And finally, I snapped in Hanoi.

I am officially sick of every item of clothing in my backpack and there is simply nothing I can do about it.

It was easier at first to accept the fact that what I was able to bring on a 5 month journey was limited to one backpack. I wasn’t too worried about it during our first month in India-I wasn’t sick of the clothes yet- and I had a bit of space in my pack to stuff in some newly purchased skirts and shirts. And in Thailand we spent a great deal of the month on beaches, running around barefoot wearing not much more than a bathing suit and a sarong.

It was when we got to the great land-locked Laos that I started becoming overly conscious of the same 4 or so outfits I was wearing day in and day out. My white tank top morphed into a faint shade of grey; my poorly stitched Indian skirt began to rip; I even grew sick of my favorite pair of electric blue high-waisted shorts, which I didn’t think was possible (I really loved those shorts). And day by day, more and more complaints trickled out of me like obnoxious, unwanted drops from a leaky faucet. I’m fairly positive that Daniel would gladly pay large sums of money to never hear me discuss my lack of a wardrobe again.

It was when we got to Hanoi that I really lost it. We hadn’t been in a big city in quite some time, and the bustling city vibe opened my eyes to the world of fashion I’d so quickly forgotten. Gone were the dread-locked backpackers in their ali-baba pants and their Tivas. In were the slender, straight-haired Vietnamese girls, wearing make up and heels. I was dying to fit in.

So I did what I always do- maybe the only thing I could do-I bought a scarf (I have way too many scarfs, at least one from every country I’ve ever visited. Apparently, it’s my go-to). There were many practical reasons for the purchase, them being it was cold and I didn’t have one on at the time. But also, it was a mustard-colored, long, cozy looking thing that could help scratch the itch. It’s color might spice up the dullest, worn-out items in my 5-month ‘wardrobe.’

Well, it kept me complaint free…for about 5 days. I wore that thing in and out, day and night, and it was almost enough to satisfy me. That is, until we hopped a plane from the North of Vietnam and stepped off into the blazing heat of the Saigon.

The heat has yet to subside, and I write today from a beach town in Cambodia, wearing the same electric blue shorts with the same grey-white tank. No hint of newness, no room in my pack to buy something new, and certainly no need for a mustard-colored scarf.

But then I look up from the table at the glistening turquoise sea and realize one thing: This is a pretty good compromise for a closet full of clothes.

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3 thoughts on “A Backpacker’s Wardrobe

  1. Nice View! Backpacking, I could always pick out the new travelers by their crisp white t-shirts. Your faded and greying tank is more like a trophy I’d say! Good for you. Safe Travels~

  2. Phil says:

    I ran into this issue as well, but I think it had more to do with my need to do laundry

  3. Jessica says:

    First, Corey I love your blog! You and Daniel are two incredibly talented and beautiful people. Second, I sympathize with you. As a cash strapped English language assistant I’m taunted everyday by thin, emaculated dressed Spanish women and shop windows full of pretty Spring dresses. I’ve been tempted more than once to forgo grocery shopping and instead every last dime on clothes. However rationality always kicks in, sigh.

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