I woke up to the sound of rain pouring on the palm leaf+ clay roof. The only thing I had planned for for the day was to get a tan. Just my luck. I had watched the sun rise with a slight cool breeze and a full moon as the waves beat the shore and the vietnamese locals did their fitness. Hard to believe that was just a few hours ago.
I had finally bit the bullet and rented a moto to drive from Hue to Hoi An. I really wanted to do it and the drive was so so worth it. Gorgeous coastline and perfect weather. I stopped by Elephant springs (waterfall) and Marble Mountain (caves) on the way. The previous two days in Hue were very unexciting. I caught up on sleep and work and got food poisoning, too. I hardly slept the night before I left hue as I was tossing up my dinner. Ugh. I’m surprised I survived so well on my 6 hour bike ride. My exhaustion and discomfort must have been evident. When I took the two steps into the hostel in Hoi An and the owner said, “this way to your bed. We can deal with checkin in after you have slept”. And that was my first moment with Momma Lyna.
This is the first place I have met other americans traveling and Lyna says that some how there are only girls here for the next couple days so we will have to have a girls night out.
Im just sitting here marveling at how the connection between people can happen so quickly and easily if you are open to it. I’ve hardly seen the city here because I was instantly apart of the interworkings of this homestay. Because it is the full moon they had a big lunch with all of their family and neighbors. They light incense and say prayers for their ancestors and the feast. I and another girl was invited to join in. I daren’t say no. Lots of food, lots of beer and a lot of “Mo hai bo yo!”. I was so detirmined to get a tan I packed myself up and headed to the beach. No such luck for sunshine and I was too late in the day for it anyway. I rode my bike around the city/ outside the city/ along the beach. It was was nice to explore and check out the area.
all 8 of us piled in a taxi and headed into the old quarter. Just as we get out of the taxi the rain starts. We made our way over to the river and bought our lanterns. The rain was coming harder now and the river was beginning to overflow. We made our wishes and placed our lanterns in the water. The current kept pushing them up against the little boats that were along the edge. The woman manning the boats helped us push them out to the middle of the river. It was quite the scene.. pouring rain, us without umbrellas trying to get the lanterns to actually float away and almost angelic like the boat ladies take over for us getting them in the right spot with each slow push of the paddle.
Lyna took is to a local restaurant where she had coordinated a prefix meal for us. I was still feeling very ill and was only able to nibble on things. We headed to Tiger Tiger afterwards for cocktails and shisha. The rain had stopped and the area was buzzing with travelers celebrating. We danced and danced. I bumped into the german girl I met in Ha Long Bay. I saw 4 of the crew from the Sapa Trek. I chase after the belgian girl I chatted with in Hanoi. Each one a mini reunion with laughter and hugs and I’m cracking up how I thought I would be traveling alone and here are new old friends as I go along.
“I would have enjoyed talking to you. You have a calm vibe around you. Confident, intelligent. Haha.. body language says a lot. Si si, eso es viajar.”
I was catching up on emails, sitting outside late after everyone had gone to bed. I had a long nap midday in recovery of the previous evenings festivities and am not tired just yet. Lyna’s brother brings out a bowl of ramen and I’m surprised as he hands it to me. He comes back with another and joins me. We sit there under the trees smiling and eating our noodles.
It was the day I needed to check out. Lyna made a sad sound and told me to stay longer. I wish, I truly wish! I’ve only 7 days left and only made it halfway! I had hopes of seeing Dalat, some beach town, Mecong Delta and of course Saigon. I’m feeling the pressure as well as exhaustion and am trying to debate where to go and how to get there. I turn down the 17 hour bus ride and booked a flight for that evening instead. A sweet british guy is checking in as Im checking out. We chat for a few and I invite him to grab lunch with me as I had had the best Banh mi the day before and I’m headed there again. We grab bikes and head into town. lunch, meandering, chatting, coffee, more meandering. It was nice to have an impromptu buddy for my last hours in Hoi An.
Lyna gives me the biggest hug and we almost tearfully say good bye. She gives me the sweetest parting well wishes. Bah.. I just love people.
The bus picks me up for the airport. I’m on the 7:30 flight and just so content I can’t help but be friendly with each person that gets in the bus as we make our round ups. Turns out im on the same flight as the dutch guy sitting next to me. We get on the plane and again, we have seats next to each other. I lose him at the airport before I could ask him if he wanted to share a taxi. I check in to my hostel in Saigon. I’m only there overnight as I’m headed back out on an early morning bus to Mui Ne to hopefully find my tan. I toss my bags at my bed and head out to find food. Walking towards me as make my way down the street, the dutch guy. We laugh and lament how we should have just shared a taxi. He invites me to join him at the noodle place his hostel recommended. We chatted and laughed for an hour comparing our last three weeks of travel/adventure. He was traveling the first two weeks with his girlfriend (damnit) through china and burma. Again, I’m so grateful for these random impromptu meetings and someone to share a meal and stories with. I’m eager to shower and sleep and so I bid him safe travels home.
Words collected lately::
it’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
But that’s the wonderful thing about foreign travel, suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most basic sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.
– Bill Bryan
Single people want relationships, settled people wonder if they’re missing out on something, traveling types miss stability, stable ones are restless, old friends want new friends, new friends miss old friends, and basically almost everyone my age has some dangling worry trailing around after them everywhere that they’re somehow not doing everything, that what they’re doing is not altogether the right thing, that they are missing out. … Do not be ashamed. The doubt is natural, and everyone you know – yes, even that person – carries it sometimes too. Allow yourself to be peaceful. Allow yourself satisfaction in what you have. If you really don’t like it, allow yourself permission to make changes.
– Lillian Schneid
I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home.
– Joanne Harris
I enjoy controlled loneliness. I like wandering around the city alone. I’m not afraid of coming back to an empty flat and lying down in an empty bed. I’m afraid of having no one to miss, of having no one to love.
– Kuba Wojewódzki