I'm a poor musician, but when I found out that my orchestra would be taking a tour to Japan, I made it my mission to find the perfect travel bag. I searched and searched, and finally stumbled upon the Ghurka Express No. 2. It was the bag of my wildest dreams. It was like Indiana Jones, Teddy Roosevelt and European Imperialism all rolled into one beautiful little bag, literally. I assume it smells like whiskey, cigars, blood diamonds, and turn of the century sweat from United Fruit Company mercenary's. I needed it, I craved it. One problem, I was and am a musician (i.e. poor). If I was to have the bag of my aspirational adventure travel fantasies, I wouldn't be able to afford to go on said adventures. What's a girl with a Don Perignon taste on a Colt 45 budget to do? I looked on eBay for used bags, no luck, still too expensive for an adjunct music professor. Lucky for me, not only can I play the violin like a badass, my mom taught me how to sew like a badass. I exclaimed, with the blind confidence afforded only to those with enough over-educated upper-middle class white privilege to possess a stay at home mother who taught her how to sew, and the sheer amount of personal free time necessary to take on such a task in the first place, "I know, I'll make my own dam bag!" So I did. Mostly just to see if I could actually do it. I went to Joann Fabrics and bought needles that are made to sew through leather. I painstakingly crafted my own pattern of the Express No. 2 from scratch based on pictures I gleaned from the interwebs. I bought the softest leather hide I could afford (on sale at a discount fabric warehouse). I scrupulously cut out and sewed my pattern, knowing that I only had one shot, leather is an unforgiving mistress. I learned how to fasten grommets and snaps and handles. I learned how to sew a lining with a secret compartment for smuggling Claritin-D. I made my own Express No. 2 for about $100 in supplies and stupid amount of time, and I have to say, it is a fabulous bag. It would certainly pass in the back alley's of Bangkok as an excellent knockoff of the knockoff. Now I too get to feel like the patriarchally romanticized version of Ernest Hemingway I always dreamed of when I travel. Whether it was glamorously eating leaves accidentally while speeding to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen, or elegantly puking in the bushes of a Hakone 711 after a motion sickness inducing bus tour to Mt. Fuji, or even gracefully rolling down the steps of Ikebukuro station in the heart of Tokyo while checking my phone and spraining my ankle, my "Fhurka" bag was there for me (except for when it was back at the Air Bn'b and I really needed some godamned dramamine in Hakone, Ugh). Since my intrepid trek to Japan in 2015, my Fhurka and I have gone on many more adventures to exotic locales like Prague, the Ring of Kerry, and Scottsdale, Arizona. This year we'll be traveling to mysterious and ancient sites like the Forbidden City in Beijing and my parents house in New Brighton, MN. I can't wait to see where we travel after that! Maybe Mumbai, or Melbourne, Florida.