No Longer Going Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before

No Longer Going Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before

We left Finland to travel the world with the goal of seeing countries and immersing ourselves in their cultures. This changed three months ago in Panama City and there is no going back. We regret to inform you that we are no longer boldly going where no man has gone before.

What happened in Panama City?

We had a few days' stopover in Panama City on our way from Guatemala to Paraguay. We stayed in a hotel in the city centre and went for a walk to Albright Mall at 3 pm on a Friday afternoon. On our way, we were pushed into an alley by eight young gentlemen who made us sit on the ground and took our belongings. Santeri helped them get everything they needed while Päivi instinctively fought back and held on to her purse. Our slight new acquaintances were probably afraid that we would resist so they resorted to violence. As they say, the best defense is a good offense. The beating was quite a shock for Päivi who had not experienced brute force before.

The upside was that our luggage became significantly lighter. This was perhaps the only way to get rid of some of our precious possessions as we find it difficult to discard anything that still works. We were relieved of a heavy gaming laptop, an old small laptop, a phone, bags including Savotta and two pairs of eyeglasses among other things. Unfortunately for our new Panamanian friends, we had not taken the laptops' power supplies with us so the equipment was somewhat useless. For us, replacing the laptops was not such a big deal but finding new eyeglasses was a tedious task. We finally managed to do it in South-East Asia where we decided to rest after our exciting experience.

Restoring secure state of mind

Why SEA? Most of the area is Islamic and Buddhist making it more peaceful than Catholic and Spanish-speaking Central and South America. Religion and language has naturally nothing to do with peacefulness, but we chose to believe so. We ditched our previously purchased flight tickets to Paraguay and bought new ones to Kuala Lumpur with multiple stopovers: Panama City, Panama – Toronto, Canada – Frankfurt, Germany – Qatar – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the way to and in Malaysia we restocked necessities and electronics, returned backups, and met old friends. Then our journey continued through Thailand towards Laos which we had visited twelve years ago in 2011. A lot had changed but not exactly in the way we had hoped for. More of this later.

How did our experience change us?

Panama City prompted us to re-evaluate our priorities and goals. Before the mugging, we had visited 123 countries, not really paying attention to their reputation. When selecting our future destinations, however, places with rampant crime are not on top of our list; our peace of mind is more important. Furthermore, we are not keen on visiting countries such as Bhutan, North Korea, and Jordan that require visitors to purchase tours and pay exorbitant visa fees. It is corruption and as such, criminal as well. What is left? We will see as Päivi's thirst for travel has still not been quenched. Meanwhile we are grateful for the valuable experience that made us reconsider both our mindset and our way of travel.


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