We can still dream about travel, even if we can’t travel, so we’re going to keep writing about travel – and food, we’re going to keep writing about food, too. That’s what you’re reading on Grantourismo right now and we hope you’ll keep reading. We won’t abandon you and hope you won’t abandon us.
I’m writing this post as I did the last – the first soup recipe in a new series on Cambodian broths – at the Italian terrazzo table, strangely concreted to the floor, in the bedroom I’m using as an office, in the snug second-storey Siem Reap apartment that’s our new ‘home’ for now.
I’m looking out the window counting the mango trees heaving with green fruit, wondering if it will be safe enough to go greet our neighbours with a bag of freshly-baked Anzac biscuits or a loaf of homemade sourdough by the time the mangoes are ripe.
As I look out that window, I also find myself day-dreaming… about travel. We might not be able to travel right now, but we can still dream about travel. Because if there’s one thing I’ve discovered in recent weeks, reading and dreaming about travel is not only a distraction, and a way to escape our increasingly complicated world, it’s a cure for anxiety, and it offers a spark of hope.
We Can Still Dream About Travel So We’re Going to Keep Writing About Travel
Despite having been in our new little apartment for a week, we’re not yet unpacked and settled. The place is still crammed with cardboard boxes of books, research materials, kitchenware, textiles, and ceramics, which the moving guys hoisted up over the balcony by rope, incredibly without breaking a single glass or dish (or, not one that I’ve discovered yet).
We’ve been taking our time unpacking. Partly because I’m wondering where everything is going to fit, and partly because I’m contemplating giving half of it away, in preparation for the next move we have to make, a move that may well be our last for Southeast Asia.
It could also be because we now seem to have all the time in the world, with none of the usual deadlines that are always looming. I also wonder if it’s because I’m secretly worried that we’re just going to have to pack it all up again at some stage and leave, and next time we may have to do it in a hurry. But there, I’ve said it, so it’s not a secret anymore.
Like so many fellow expats who decided to hunker down here in Cambodia to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve downsized to a smaller, more affordable apartment, for at least the next six months. Maybe longer, who knows.
Who knows anything anymore. The uncertainty of the world outside the country that’s become a second home to us makes me question everything these days, no matter how safe and secure we feel here in sunny Cambodia.
Like so many of you around the world, we’ve lost most of our income. Clients cancelled agreements, projects were postponed indefinitely, publishers put commissioning on hold, and travel editors are having their budgets cut.
On Grantourismo, most of the affiliate commissions that provided a regular stream of income for us stopped when everyone stopped travelling and our readers stopped booking hotels, hiring cars, and buying visas and insurance. Fortunately, you’re all still purchasing books.
The only regular income we have, until editors accept some of the pitches and book proposals I’ve furiously been writing and sending off, is that from Patreon and the generous patrons who have been funding the expenses and our time to research, write and recipe-test our epic Cambodia cookbook and culinary history. The chance that, too, could disappear, is terrifying.
As a result, like many of you, we’ve been experiencing anxiety attacks for the first time in our lives, initially not realising what they were. I thought the crushing heaviness I’d been feeling in my chest for the past couple of months, was the sign of a possible heart attack.
For weeks, I went for daily swims, thinking the exercise would keep it at bay – along with the nightly glasses of wine in the kitchen as Terence and I cooked and did the dishes together, listening to news podcasts. But it didn’t go away.
It wasn’t until I was entirely overcome by anxiety one afternoon – that I felt trapped beneath a building that had tumbled down, it’s entire weight pressing upon my chest, that I felt weak, giddy and numb yet every extremity tingled, that it was so difficult to breathe that I felt the next would be my last – I knew I had to deal with it before it killed me. I just didn’t know how.
When Terence went to the pharmacy to buy some Valium that my sister, a nurse in Australia, recommended I take, I took deep breaths and tried to distract myself from the stress that had brought it on. I’d been in the midst of packing and sorting through old travel magazines, so I picked one up and began thumbing through its pages.
By the time Terence had returned my chest no longer felt tight, my legs were no longer weak, the tingling had gone, and I could breathe again. I no longer needed the Valium. Reading about travel had calmed me. And as I would later find out: writing about travel – and food – had the same effect.
Whether it was reading about a languorous voyage along the Mekong River, a summer on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, an epic Australia adventure, or a road trip through Thailand’s off the beaten track Isaan region (yes, that story was one of our own!), the tales of travel soothed me in a way that even the swimming and wine hadn’t. I’d found my cure.
So now that we are settling into our new little home, with no work on the horizon for now other than our own, we are once again giving Grantourismo the attention that this decade-old site deserves and picking up the pace of publishing here once more.
While none of us can travel right now, we can still write about, read about, and dream about travel. We hope you’ll keep visiting us here at Grantourismo for your travel inspiration, information and advice.
And when the coronavirus stops spreading, borders re-open, planes start flying, we’re all working again, and it’s safe to travel once more, we hope you’ll plan your trips, book your accommodation, hire your rental cars, book your tours and experiences, purchase your travel insurance, and buy your visas on Grantourismo.
We’re currently working on a new production schedule and will share our plans soon. In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you want to read, either by email, social media or in the comments below.
Happy dreaming xx