Always torn between going on an all-out adventure and ensuring my personal safety, one thing I’ve learnt on this trip is that it’s not that easy to die. And that, shall be my personal travel mantra.
Accompanied by the petite but kickass Dawn, the two of us shower-hating girls embarked on a journey where we overcame our fear of being human trafficked while crossing borders, battled overnight-bus-hangovers and went to too many cafes.
Each place was wonderful – I shall cover them slowly but surely – but on the whole, this trip was about the distance travelled. We took buses, boats and walked a lot. The numbers are pretty – all multiples of 3. The point is that we were on the move.
I remember whining to Dawn: “I’m going to miss Hanoi.” when it was just day 3, when we had to go to Cat Ba. Could anything be more amazing than the quiet bustle of morning in Hanoi when street hawkers start their business? Hoan Kiem Lake in its glory at night? Our favourite cafe which we have only been to once? What if Cat Ba sucks?
If you know me, sentimentality is my middle name.
When I arrived in Cat Ba however, the initial irritation over having to find lodging after a long bus/boat journey in an unfamiliar place soon turned into love for the laid back pace of the town. Hardly any motorbikes unlike Hanoi. We also found another favourite cafe.
This pattern would repeat itself. I hated leaving each place and would constantly moan (to Dawn’s dismay). I’ve found my favourite spots, and settled in. I would arrive in the new destination hung up on the previous, only to find myself all happy again once I realised how wonderful the new place is.
And that is my greatest lesson, to move on. That change is scary but necessary for new discoveries. That familiarity is comforting but can chain me. I think letting go has never been something I was good at, but I’ve learnt to be less attached to anything – things, places, people.
So yes, I still miss these places very much, and I hope to return to them one day. But for now, there will always be more places to explore, other things to do.