Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Time has certainly made a run for it. It’s been almost a month since I last blogged and even longer since I provided an update on my travels. To be honest, I haven’t been inspired to sit down and write on this blog. I’ve been journaling a lot and quite frankly, I’ve been in my own head for the large part of this month. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Vietnam has given me a further sense of appreciation for nature and all of its beauties. Staring at the sunset, watching the moon as it comes out as the sun settles in, and watching the gentle flow of a river have been the highlights of my days over the past few weeks.
There’s so much I want to write about, but it’s all so complex and scattered right now. I’m finding myself working to sift through it myself, so I’ll start off with where the heck I’ve been for the past two months.
Since I last actually provided an update, I left India to head back to Thailand. In case I didn’t mention, I’ve traveling with my friend Shaili, who I’ve known since we were teeny boppers. She joined me about 2 months into my travels when I was in the islands. We traveled from the islands to northern Thailand, specifically to Chiang Mai and Pai. After Thailand, we took a slow boat to Laos and made our way from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. After Lao, we went to Cambodia where we travelled from Siem Reap to Kampot and finally to Phenom Penh. After Cambodia, we took a bus to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where we bought motorbikes for $250 USD. For the past month we have been journeying from the south to north and let me tell you, it’s been an amazing experience.
Motorbiking through Vietnam was probably one of the best decisions we have made. It’s been challenging, but satisfying and so real. We have been able to stop in villages that are untouched by tourism and outside influence. We started our journey from Saigon to a small town called Lagi then to a town called Dalat. From Dalat we continued north to Na Trang then caught a bus to Hoi An. From Hoi An we continued with our motorbikes to Da Nang and from Da Nang to Hue. From Hue, we travelled to Phoung Nha where we stayed for two nights. From there we headed farther up north where we passed through a fishing village, Na Trinh. From Na Trinh we travelled to Vinh City and finally to our current destination, Ninh Binh. In two days, we’ll reach Hanoi, our final motorbiking destination.
These may just sound like places on a map, but they are so much more. Each town has left me a little more amazed than the last. It’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with Vietnam and my experiences associated with it. It could very well be because I’m seeing the country with a motorbike rather than on buses. I’m not completely sure.
Yesterday we stopped in Na Trinh, a small fishing village, and spent time with the local people. We were invited to eat in their homes and spend time speaking with them. Although there was a huge language barrier, we managed to get by (Google translate helped out a bit too!) and had a great time. Today we crashed a wedding after party, ate with the groom and all of his friends, and took tons of selfies. These are a few of the experiences we would not have had if we hadn’t been on our motorbikes.
I’m almost approaching my fifth month of traveling and I’ve been finding some similarities between my time here and my time backpacking around Europe. One is that just as much as these places amaze me, it is the people I meet along the way that amaze me just as much. Whether they are travelers or locals, they have the ability to blow me away beyond belief. Although we are, in the simplest sense, a combination of particles, we have the ability to feel and think. We can destroy and lie, but we also have the aptitude to bring life to beautiful thoughts, words, and actions. We can develop bonds that leave us speechless, but fired from within (shout out to Shaili and Julian). I don’t know about you, but to me, it’s difficult to fathom that such relationships can exist.
I have a couple months of this journey to go and I am looking forward to seeing what I continue to discover about myself and the world around me. I don’t know if this journey will change me, but if it does I know it will be for the better.