lollipop in hands

Stepping Away From the Sugar Coating

It’s frighteningly easy to hide yourself behind a blog. Sure, we’re public people who write and photograph our hearts out, but there’s no honesty breathalyzer that we have to blow into before being allowed to hit “publish”. Sometimes, this leads to certain people filtering out parts of their personality that they imagine are less desirable or relevant to their audience. (yup, I mean me)


For some reason, I got it into my head that having a female travel blog meant every post needed to be enthusiastic like a cheer, and saccharine sweet (okay, except for the PMS stuff, because there is no dressing up that beast). Yeah, I write funny(ish) travel information, but I am not a robot, and have been known experience a wide range of emotions – I’m willing to bet you do, too, and you’re probably a bit nauseated by the “always – on” tone that you’ve read here. There’s nothing wrong with being positive, but there’s something wrong with not being real – and for that, I am sorry.

lollipop in hands

lollipops (and all things sugar) are AMAZING (but they’ll probably give you diabetes)
photo credit : skylark



While I was nervous, (perhaps terrified) to first admit that I struggle with ( by struggle with, I mean get kicked in the female balls at random, unforeseen intervals) depression, my good friend Talon Windwalker allowed me to speak out about the topic on his site through this interview. After receiving such supportive feedback, I realized there was nothing to be scared about.


This is my promise to you, oh awesome blog reader, that from here on out I will do my very best not to sugar coat moments of travel and life for you. While I’ve never promised that travel is glamorous (in fact, most of the time it is smelly and dirty unless you’re like a bazillionaire) I’ve also not shared as much with you about the lands I have traveled to as I would a good friend – and that’s messed up – because you are my good friends. You deserve to know that if you do something like take a 3rd class train in Indonesia you might get sucker punched in the gut by emotions and cry like a little girl.


My first attempt at baring more than the straight up girl facts (something one might call feelings) with you is this brief snippet which took place last month while I was in Indonesia.


For the first time in a long time, I lost my composure in public while traveling.

On the economy train from Bogor to Jakarta there are many vendors selling wares : tissues, light up ear picks, flippy floppys, masks, bouncy balls, and food items. After the first few minutes, you become numb to them and simply wave your hand in a “no thank you” gesture like the locals.

Then, I looked to my left and saw a young boy, squat on the floor sweeping the train with a broken broom, shaking an empty potato chip bag – waiting for money.
He could not have been more than five.

One car behind him was his mother, baby in a sarong, doing the same thing.

How long had she been on her knees, sweeping between the feet of strangers, hoping for enough coins to feed her family?

How long until the baby was out of the sarong and sweeping?

How many years would this boy spend crouched, gazing only at knees, hoping for help?

How privileged am I to see these things, to remember my fortune, to wipe my tears and walk off the train. [/box]



Ah, that wasn’t so bad. Sharing, I mean (the actual experience is still seared into my mind) and it’s helping to relieve the dreaded feeling known as “writers block”.

But saying “writers block” is actually another sugar coated lie. Sorry, I promised to not do that again, didn’t I?

[quote] It is that I am pulling at twigs of a writers dam, and that if I mistakenly move the stick that is holding up everything, this torrent of words will tumble down and crash on me.

That I will float along in a sea of my own stories, until, just like the movies, I am headed towards a waterfall that I don’t see. Crashing down into my own memories, some bitter and some frighteningly sweet. [/quote]


Are you happy to have a dose of reality injected into It’s One World… TRAVEL, or do you prefer your travel blogs as an escape?

Brandy Bell loves adventuring around the world. She’s been a solo female traveler since 2006 and has visited over 25 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

'Stepping Away From the Sugar Coating' have 10 comments

  1. July 20, 2013 @ 5:20 am shubham wahal

    Reality bites!…an exceptionally rare and honest critique about travel.


    • July 22, 2013 @ 6:14 pm brandy bell

      thanks shubbam, reality CAN definitely bite, and sometimes it locks on like a pit bull… but once it lets go, there’s nothing like the happiness that comes after. 🙂 thank you for reading and commenting!


  2. July 22, 2013 @ 2:24 pm Kristin Addis

    I’m in Java as well and realizing how easy it is for me to come and spend in a few days what some of the locals spend on a year if rent really puts it into perspective. I get incensed about getting overcharged a few dollars but its huge in places like this. We’re lucky travel
    Is an option for us because for that family it isn’t.


    • July 22, 2013 @ 6:16 pm brandy bell

      you’re right kristin, it’s hard to remember when we’re overcharged (or simply not given the local price) that what amounts to a few dollars for us is oftentimes a weeks wages to them. easier to let it go, and look at where we are – gallivanting the globe, we are the lucky ones!
      how are you liking indonesia?


  3. July 22, 2013 @ 2:59 pm Annie

    Let it rip, sister!!! I love it all, the sweet, the sticky, and the gnarly real shit! You’re an amazingly strong and courageous woman…we admire you!


    • July 22, 2013 @ 6:18 pm brandy bell

      awww, thank you, Annie! it feels a bit like ripping off a mask, but i just imagined it to be an exfoliating mask and that what’s underneath is usually fresh and glowing, if not the tiniest bit raw 🙂
      see you SOON!


  4. July 22, 2013 @ 7:20 pm Hogga

    why do all things that taste so good are just so bad for you?


    • January 2, 2016 @ 9:36 pm brandy bell

      the best things are always the worst for us, right? and vice versa!


  5. July 23, 2013 @ 8:52 pm Heather

    Sloan said “if it feels good do it, even if you shouldn’t”. The truth is what it is, good or bad.

    That being said, I don’t *really* want to read things that people should only be sharing with their shrink. I *do* want to read about things that help me learn something new, make me laugh, or help me understand. Honesty can do all of those and probably make you feel pretty good at the same time.

    You’ve got something to say? Let’s hear it!


    • January 2, 2016 @ 9:37 pm brandy bell

      I agree, Heather. Sometimes it’s just time to do what feels right!


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