Lena and the Habibis

As someone who prefers to travel solo and picking up friends along the road, I took a leap and said yes when my three guy friends suggested we backpack Asia this summer. It was the best decision I could have made.

Today the remaining three of us parted ways (since Thomas got sick and unfortunately had to leave us), splitting off to different continents. I’m headed south to Australia, Alfonso is heading west Europe, and Nick is heading east back to Boston. We’ve spent every day for the last five weeks together exploring Asia- sweating, making silly bets, and ordering way too much food. We’ll see each other shortly in San Francisco to start work, so I can’t really be that dramatic about it. Nevertheless, I got use to traveling with the boys, and will miss it.

The weather finally caught up with us in Phuket and it rained throughout our stay, which was a blessing considering we went to Asia during rainy season and hadn’t been rained out once. We were on a ferry from the Phi Phi Islands being tossed around the waves like clothes in a washing machine, while everyone around us vomited. The only thing that got us through it was a menthol oil I had bought in Vietnam that we poured liberally into our nostrils to block out all the smells.

That was easily the worst boat ride of my life, but for some reason- with Alfonso on my right and Nick on my left- I was absolutely okay with it.

It goes to show that the company you keep means everything while you’re traveling. They can make a bad day, great.

I think a huge part of what made us work is that each of us has traveled extensively and has done a semester abroad. Alfonso studied abroad in Madrid, Thomas in Paris, Nick in London, and I did my semester abroad in Barcelona. They’re also a great group of guys with hearts of gold.

Our first day in Hong Kong, I wore my running shoes, thinking they would be better for my broken toe. I was almost in tears after a few painful steps and in a heartbeat Thomas ran up ten flights of stairs in the awful heat just to get me a pair of sandals. Nick always helped me make a game plan for each city, knew how to calm me down if I was stressed, and put up with every time I asked him to take my picture (which was a lot). And Alfonso always makes sure we’re hydrated and always had the wifi passwords.

They would all take a bullet for me. Okay, maybe not a bullet but a shot. They’d all take a shot for me. Like if I were at a bar and someone bought me a gross shot that I didn’t want to take, I could hand it to anyone of them and they’d be like, “yeah, sure, thanks.”

They’re pretty great like that.

Thomas, Alfonso and Nick- thanks for making five weeks in Asia full of laughter, joy, and stories that can only one day come out in wedding toasts.

It’s been awesome.