In a first-person reflection in the SF Chronicle Travel section, Sue Dickman misses India because there you never know what could be around the corner: "When turning a corner at home in the United States, I can be pretty certain that an elephant or a herd of water buffalo or a wedding procession led by a marching band will not be coming in the opposite direction, but there is no such certainty in India."
I see her point. The surprises and uncertainty of travel can make for some fun. But what I’ve learned in my extensive overseas travel is that I’m willing to tolerate cows wandering down the street, impoverished conditions, kooky toilets, and other odd surprises…assuming it’s a means to some other ends. That is, I have no interest in throwing myself into a shithole to "have an experience."
I’m willing to tolerate pain while traveling, assuming the pain isn’t supposed to be the pleasure, even if the pain provides a new perspective or a delightful surprise.
I was fine being stuffed in a smelly, rickety train leaving Bombay, because the pain of being in that train wasn’t the point. The point was to use the most efficient transportation possible to arrive at my next destination — which meant a smelly, rickety train.