Sat 13 Nov 2010 - Wed 17 Nov 2010
Why do people travel? Cliche- to get out of their comfort zones.
Why do I travel? To discover my comfort zone...it's sort of disorienting not having a home currently, not truly belonging to any place specific. Trying to stumble my way to finding a new spot to shelter my uprooted self in; to find that elusive zone. It's also heartening that home can be everywhere I look- anywhere I am.
But at the same time, it's definitely confusing trying to re-find myself. At 28, I thought I had finally discovered me and finally known peace. And here we go again! So travel is about discovery - places, me, purpose of life, and all that jazz. Perhaps, soon, I will bump into a place that will feel familiar and will feel new all at the same time. Someplace that will say, "Pick me! Pick me!" Why do you travel?
Was in Hanoi in November. I like Thailand for the warm people and the beaches, but Vietnam, there's something special about this country. I don't think it's the people- they are not necessarily warm but definitely not cold, maybe just indifferent. They seem worn, but full of character.
What they have going for them is community- case in point, streetside bars! Narrow roads, a huddle of plastic chairs, people gather in groups, eating, drinking watered down beer, talking late into the night. I never knew that watching scooters going by, while sitting while amongst the locals could be fun in it's own way. Its not just the down and dirty street side gatherings of people drinking, its also their exceptional food. Went to a seedy place located in the middle of a warren of streets and ate the best fried fish and rice noodles ever.
And the Green Tangerine (thank you, my friend who refers to the Lonely Planet!)- pure brilliance. French, pretty food, elegant restored villa. They do that sort of thing very well- take old buildings, convert them into eating places that make you want to stay late and drink another drink. Oh, yes, and the bakeries. Well, I shall say no more. Feast your eyes on breakfast.
I had not really heard of Ha'Long Bay before...it's a Unesco World Heritage site. A beautiful bay, shrouded in grey, massive monolithic rocks jutting out from the water, wondrous caves,- very Pirates of the Caribbean! Took a cruise (oddly called Amigo Cruises!) on a beautiful old teak boat, lovely silk bedspreads in the cabin, cute little windows, and a deck made for reading and contemplating life. That contemplation got me into a lot of trouble! I left Ha'Long resolving to not be "safe", not be excruciatingly sensible anymore. To return to a more free, borderline reckless, me. Fearless - cheers to that!