I am a female with curves. I wouldn’t call myself fat or skinny. The word voluptuous makes me cringe. I am simply heavier then your average skinny traveller. It has taken me 20 years to become confident with these curves and travelling doesn’t always help the process, especially when I hit a language barrier with the locals and miming comes into play. In these moments, dignity is scarce.

I am in Fez standing in the middle of the Moroccan Medina staring at the bum of a mule.

The medina is heavily crowded, shopkeepers are yelling in Arabic and customers scream back at them in French. There must be a chicken shop in the vicinity because somewhere to my left a rooster won’t shut up. I’m concentrating hard on trying to interpret the conversation in front of me that I’m fairly confident is about me.

My local guide Ahmet is trying to dump me with this man and his mule? My local guide is trying to swap me for the mule? My local guide is trying to sell me to this man and his mule? Ooohhh that would be bad! I try to mime to them that I’m fine and start to walk away.

Ahmet says, “No, you ride Mule, you’re not too big.”
He was arguing I was not too big to ride this mans mule? What a gentleman – sort of.

I look at the mule. It has no saddle or stirrups. I severely lack any sort of upper body strength necessary for mounting this animal.

Suddenly an uncomfortable hand is around my legs and this poor little man, who comes up to my shoulders, is trying to hoist me onto the animal. I become increasingly aware of the complete lack of noise around me. The whole medina is watching as the girl who is too big for a mule is forced upwards. I had one thought. I swear Mr Mule if you get me out of here right now I will set you free.

Good morning Vietnam

So now I’m in Halong Bay, Vietnam. I’m sitting in a canoe wondering how I can possibly hit the man standing on the deck with my paddle without causing him too much injury and at the same time continue to stay afloat in my canoe.

It’s winter in Vietnam, and consequently only six people from the junk boat volunteered to go canoeing. Looking at the harbour I thought nothing but peaceful thoughts… until I had to get into the canoe that is.

The little Vietnamese man decides I am partnered with a lanky Canadian, he probably only weighs about 40kg.

Men traditionally take the back seat in the canoe, as they are heavier. Traditionally. Mr Canada climbs in. I have always had shocking balance. I concentrate and step in successfully. I look up smiling proud, looking for some recognition of my balancing achievement. The little Vietnamese man is laughing at me. 
“You making the front sink – you heavier than boy, you heavier than boy.” I think tackling him into the water could be worth it.

Finally I’m home. I look out of the plane window and i can see my family waving at me. I’ve been away for a year. 

The seatbelt sign flashes off, I walk off the plane and onto the tarmac. I’m nervous and excited. I’m tackled to the ground in a sea of hugs.

“Have you lost weight?” my Nan asks.

Oh my gosh, it’s good to be home sometimes.