10 days in Vietnam. I am fascinated by this country. This time not the pagodas, temples or buildings draw my attention, but the people do.
I am in Hoi An now. A cute little harbor town. I made my way to the middle of the country. Within the last 10 days I spent a night on a boat cruisin in Ha Long bay, a night in a hill tribe family´s home north of Sa Pa and about 36 hours in a train. I was trekking through muddy rice fields, meeting people from all over the world in the most northern part of Vietnam where you can see the Chinese border from top of the mountains. Spent hours riding motorcycles, bikes, trains, busses and did all tourist stuff.
And what I enjoyed the most was people-watch. See how people educate their kids, prepare meals, harvest rice or drive scooters. To me it was precious when I found a small local café in Hue where teenagers met after school to play cards and hang out. Sitting there on a cushion on the floor, drinking my Vietnamese coffee from a tiny little table, listening to the 1996 Backstreet Boys album and watching kids play cards I felt like home – even if it was not like home at all.
I had a feeling of freedom when riding the scooter through Hue´s countryside seeing nothing but golden yellow rice patty, ready to harvest. Even if the smell of upcoming rain was in the air and the sky was covered in dark grey it felt peaceful. Like no harm is caused by fieldworkers harvesting rice, kids playing with chicken and dogs or old ladies preparing dinner for the family.
The next days I will take a 6 days motorcycle tour from Hoi An all the way down south to Ho Chi Minh city.
I spend my last ten days in Maui tanning and meeting awesome people. While i lived in paradise, picked up the fruits falling from the trees to make delicious smoothies i was wondering what my motivation is to leave and move on.
Regarding to Maslow i should be satisfied. I have a place to lay my head, friends who accept me the way i am and enough food and money to not have to worry. But what makes me remain unsatisfied? I call it the persuit of happiness. Is it the seek for knowledge and power. Is knowledge = power = money? Maybe i´ll find out when i come back from my 10 days meditation in Indonesia. One thing i know for sure – Maslows pyramide is not completed as his “self actualization” is an open end.
Facebook is shut down because of today´s elections in Vietnam. Propaganda music is running all over the city through loudspeakers. I feel like the government is not very confident about its methods…
Besides that i am finally in VIETNAM! It is incredible humid and my clothes are always wet. I was surprised about the for south east asia organized traffic and cleaness. I am staying in a very nice hostel and dealing with the 19h timedifference between Hawaii and Vietnam. Completely jatlagged i walked all over the city and saw the famous show in the water puppet theater in Hanoi.
I am going to spend the next week sailing through Ha Long Bay and trekking in Sa Pa in the north of Vietnam. I will give you an update when i am back and facebook is working again.
It is day 65 of my journey and first changes in my behavior occure. I believe I am transforming – into a world traveller!
The months before my travel started I could not get enough of planning and organizing. I bought travel-guides of countries on my way and started to study them. Now i feel like I want everything simple and flexible. I always think of the day in New York when first changes in my behavior showed through. I arrived in this big city, opened a spreadsheet and started planning my activities and meetings. Planned were 10 days in New York, morning, afternoon and evening. When I started to organize my time in New York I realized:
I am on vacation for a year. I do not have any obligations. And there is nothing I have to do.
This is how I closed my laptop (saved the file first) and tried for the first time in my life not to plan anything. The first few weeks after this, I had to remind myself to not make too many plans. Now, a couple of weeks later this behavior became second nature. Now I don´t know what I am doing in one week from now or where I am sleeping tomorrow. I am spontaneous.
My new mindset makes things and experiences possible which would not have been possible before. People ask me if I am afraid of the danger I might be exposed to. And my answer is: I have no time to think about that. And no, I am not afraid. Then people say they find my way of travelling admirable. And my answer is: I was born as a planner and am now happy by choice.
As I am not planning too much anymore I often have the feeling to go with the flow and to sometimes not be myself. Often events seem surreal to me. For example when I was at a graduate party of a girl I did not know with people I did not know and ate her cake and played with her puppy. Or when I was at the birthday party of a two year old called “pretty big girl” by the birthday kid and offered to play games on the living room floor. And while I do not completely understand what is going on I turn around and realize I am part of something great and new. Moments like this will remain unforgettable forever. And one thing I know for sure – I did not plan this.