Truthfully I’m not sure what day it is in Canada. But I’m in Vietnam, so it really doesn’t matter much to me. Good Morning, Vietnam!
It is rather odd that I find myself in Southeast Asia on my own, but stranger things have happened (and will continue to happen) to me. I am here by my own choosing, although even I admit it is a bit random.
I alluded before that January was a very difficult month for me. I’ve never felt so down, isolated, and alone. I was stuck binge watching Scandal and started to believe I could actually feel my brain melting. I had two periods (like COME ON, UNIVERSE), and feared after a quick Google search I was either pregnant or dying, neither of which I wanted. That prompted my first attempt at navigating the American healthcare system, which left me reeling in more despair. Everyone I knew here, husband included, drove past my front door to go out to hear live music one weekend, and forgot to invite me. Finally by the end of the month, I tried to save money by getting my roots done at a cheaper hair salon and ended up as a dead match for Legolas. I cried so hard on January 31st that my pillowcase was stained with all kinds of fluids from my face and I gave up my no-drinking-alone-in-Daytona rule and drank a bottle of $4 red wine with a Walmart chocolate cake on the side.
I desperately needed a change of scenery. I wanted to be far, far away from Daytona. I wanted something new and exciting in my life. Something to turn my brain back on and let me feel vibrant again. I tried to include some friends and family in various travel plans and ideas, but in the end, I wanted something to just be mine, my own adventure. And the real kicker – something that had nothing to do with my husband. No offence. (Well, maybe a little.) But, like, my whole life in Florida is based around him and I spend too much time saying his name and not enough saying mine. I wanted a trip that would give me time and space to regroup and get my life back to being about me. Something like an eat, pray, love experience. Except no praying. No loving. Just eating.
I settled on Vietnam because:
- I knew I wanted to go to Asia
- it was cheap
- I love pho, and
- I knew literally NOTHING about the place.
It was the perfect place to get me off my Scandal-laden ass and to the library, where I read thousands of pages on its history and culture. I feel like I could have a minor in Vietnamese history. The trip proved to an excellent project to keep me busy even before it actually began, on April 10th.
I have wavered between excited and nervous. I’m excited because I love to travel. I’m a good traveler, a smart traveler, and I knew I could do this. For the past three years, my only travel has been between Daytona and home, which has left my deep wanderlust unquenched. It was long past time to get off the continent again. I was nervous because when I started running the idea past family members, their reactions were at first very cautious and confused, strongly suggesting I shouldn’t go. Their initial comments left me feeling unsafe, conscious of my Legolas locks, and vulnerable. If there is anything worse than a young woman being made to feel vulnerable or unsafe because of her gender, I don’t know what is. I hate it. It makes me FURIOUS. It made me dig my heels in even more, because I am strong and I am fierce and believe I can go anywhere I want in this world, and certainly without a male escort. (Escort in the chaperone sense of the word.) Someone even suggested I dye my hair and chop it off before I go. Um, no thanks. I just spent $$$ toning my hair and several hours holding my stylist’s hand begging for her forgiveness. I’m not touching a hair.
I said something in my thank you speech at my wedding, and I’m constantly reminded by it’s poignancy. (Not a lot I said in that speech was so meaningful, on account of the tasty signature drink, and my references to drinking wine in kitchens with Corina and Alicia.) But I thanked my great aunts for being in attendance, and for being great in every sense of the word. And they constantly come through for me. After my grandmother prompted me to announce my travel plans one evening, my Aunt Margie beamed at me and said I was a “breath of fresh air.” I felt highly complimented. She also said something about being the most adventurous person in our family, and I glowed. After feeling like such a shut-in, with no purpose or plan, I suddenly felt like I was Cheryl Strayed. My Aunt Yvonne had a similar reaction, telling me to go write my own life, not just my blog. These women get it. They make me feel empowered and I am so lucky to have them in my life.
Vietnam is 9.5 hours ahead of Newfoundland. I’m in the future, and let me tell you, it’s PHO-KING amazing. I am reclaiming my old self here and making plans to keep her around. On this trip I’ll travel south to north to see Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An, Danang, Halong Bay, and Hanoi. I won’t be totally alone, I did book this through a small group tour. There’s about 20 of us all together but I don’t know a soul and have my own room. There’s flexibility to be with the group or to go off on your own and I predict I’ll do a combination. I’m tired of always being alone. But I’m looking forward to being somewhere that isn’t home (Newfoundland) and isn’t Daytona to really clear my mind and meditate on what I want to do in life and where. Scattered spring roll won’t hurt, either!
I’ve got updated vaccines, 30% Deet spray, and semi-stylish mosquito repellent bracelets. I could not be more prepared, in terms of health. I could have, I think, prepared a little more language to get by. I survived two weeks in Russia on my own only knowing a single word, “spasiba,” which translates to “thank you,” but I used it for “hello,” “please,” “help,” and “I’m being kidnaped” (but only once). I hope to find a word in Vietnamese that will be so useful.
I’m writing this from my 12 hr flight from Los Angeles to Taipei after a breakfast of pork-fried noodles. This new continent already sooooo gets me. I’m being politely scolded to turn off my phone, so off I go!
Bai bai, gặp lại sau nhé!
(I think I just told you ‘see you soon,’ at least that was my intention!)
(Edit: landed in Taipei to a beautiful soundtrack of solo cello… my heart…)