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Wives Don’t Want To Live With Rats

The tribulations of family travels present the same situation as last summer.

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To put it in a way that’s most easy to understand, Kinmen makes my wife “scream like a girl.” She totters on her tiptoes, flaps her hands like little wings, and screeches. Generally, this reaction is provoked by the sudden appearance of a rat — a rat scurrying across the floor in fearless disregard for the humans standing nearby. 

We are staying in a traditional Chinese courtyard home in a rural village — there be vermin. 

There also be excessive amounts of ants, mosquitoes, flies, spiders, and other misc flying insects. 

Courtyard homes are designed to integrate the outside with the inside. They are for people who enjoy sunlight, stars, and fresh air breezes. My wife, apparently, is not into the fruits of such integration. 

I should know better by now: bringing my family with me to the places where I do my work is a tough bet. 

Last year, I was doing research on the European side of the New Silk Road. This meant going to an array of somewhat obscure logistics zones, half-built special economic zones, and remote border crossings. 

When we arrived on the border of Poland and Belarus my family was not impressed. “There is nothing to eat here; there is nothing to do here,” they complained. 

And they were right. We were staying on the side of the road in front of a border post. There was nothing to do. Besides once-frozen French fries and supermarket hot dogs, there was nothing to eat. 

They were right and I knew it. 

I needed to look at the score and change my game plan. My intention of continuing my travels around Europe visiting emerging stations along the New Silk Road would need to be put off. I had to cool off on doing on-the-ground research and focus instead on processing the information that I already had collected. So I would sit in a room and write for part of the day and then go out and play with my family for the rest. 

I also angled our travels to more comfortable, more recreational locations — and we had an incredible time because of it. 

Here in Kinmen I can’t be as versatile. I want to finish the project that I came here to do — and I need to be here to do it. 

I have no idea where that leaves my wife and kids. 

Filed under: Accommodation, Animals, Kinmen, Taiwan

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3632 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

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