I’m sitting on a bus. I’m not exactly comfortable as I’m currently crossed legged and facing sideways. The person in front has reclined their chair right back and is now sound asleep.The bus is on its way to the border and our final destination, Ho Chi Min City. I’m scheduled to be in Vietnam until the end of December, starting today and going through until I reach Hanoi. Once there I’m due to stay put for Christmas week before finally leaving asia and flying to Australia on the 29th December. That is the plan anyway, but it may change. I’m not sure that I particularly want to stay in Hanoi for so long, so I’m looking at alternatives but it all depends on flights that are available and of course costs. The truth is that as much as I am looking forward to seeing Halong Bay, I’m looking forward to leaving South Eat Asia even more. I’ve done a heck of a lot of travelling over the last few months. According the map that I’ve been logging my progress on, its coming up to 20,000 miles of travel and once you take off the London/Beijing flight that still adds up to a lot of buses and trains.
It’s not that I don’t like the region. On the contrary i’ve really enjoyed it. I’m just tired from all the moving around and feel like I need a break from it in a place that I can genuinely relax.
I don’t think my travel experience has quite matched the typical idea of lazy days bumming about on beaches in tropical paradises… Well except for that week in Langkawi. Instead my typical day is to get up earlier than I would at home, take a bus ride, check into a hotel, take another bus ride, see something bloody amazing, come back, eat, pack, sleep and repeat.
I certainly don’t feel like I’ve not seen the region.
But now I find myself dreaming of peace and quiet. A cottage with a large bed, a kitchen and best of all a big comfy armchair or sofa. I fancy a week of good sleep, trying out my embryonic cooking skills and sitting back with a cold drink, in a cool atmosphere, pulling out a book and hearing nothing but silence.
Silence is a very underrated commodity. (Says the man currently using music to drown out the bus drivers 120hpm (Honks Per Minute) solo on the horn) it’s in very short supply here. If its not car horns then it’s traffic, construction or the ubiquitous street hawkers.
It’s these hawkers that I’m most looking forward to getting away for a while. My size makes me a target for staring no matter where I am, but here – and particularly Cambodia – I’m a magnet for them. If we are in a group and a hawker is nearby I’ll be the one that’s approached. I’m just sick and tired of hearing “hey big man” wherever I walk. As someone remarked to me yesterday “that must get real old, real fast”.It does.
I can almost read their minds as they see me. The tuk-tuks think he’s fat so he doesn’t want to walk. The tailors think that I must want big clothes made for me and as for any food vendor…
I know that they are just making a living. But fuck me, is it doing my head in. When walking down streets I hear “hey big man” only marginally less then I hear car horns and Asia loves their car horns.
Of course if I was just bumming on a beach somewhere the I wouldnt hear this all the time. It’s just something that goes hand in hand with the amount of places I go to.
And I’ve got another month of it to go, which is why I’m looking to see if I can get out Hanoi for that week.
I’d no longer say that I was ill, but there is certainly something residual hanging around. A few of the others have been mentioning stomach cramps etc. It’s made me feel like calling a timeout and retreating to a known quantity until I’m back to normal and then heading back into the fray.
I actually felt bad enough that I looked at flights back home for Christmas week. Mind you, it was a return flight that I was looking at, so I’m certainly not ready to jack it all in and call it quits.
Hmm, the bus has driven onto a ferry.
So yes, I’m eagerly anticipating Australia. A new continent, a new climate and a new culture. In other words a chance at hitting the reset switch and the thought of heading into something totally different from the current environment is invigorating.
Whilst there are key difference between each of the countries here in SE Asia, some traits are clearly homogenous just as in Europe. So I know that when I reach the border here, things will continue to be ’same same, but different’.