Most of us travel by choice. No one is twisting our arms or threatening our lives to go. In fact, we are actively searching for more opportunities to spend all our time and money on travel. So no one should feel sympathy when we moan about feeling homesick. No one need console us when we miss out on things happening at home. We chose to be somewhere else; we travel by our own free will.
Still, that doesn’t keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves when we sadly look at friends’ wedding photos on Facebook, instead of Chicken Dancing with them at the reception. We still mope around when we have to work on Thanksgiving , Fourth of July and other home-based holidays. And we still feel terribly lonely when we lose someone back home and realize we’re too far away to make it to the funeral. Maybe that one’s the worst. Instead of being with friends and family who are going through the same pain, we make a few long distance calls and have to carry on as usual.
It’s all part of the adventure.
This line has been on my mind’s repeat since moving here to Da Nang, Vietnam. Watching a scooter fly by packed with an entire family of two parents, a grandma, three kids and a dog I think It’s All Part of the Adventure. The next day when that same family offers me a lift I squeeze on to their miniature vehicle and remind myself It’s All Part of the Adventure. When the family and I stop along the way to pick up several live chickens and a BBQ eel I say – you guessed it – It’s All Part of the Adventure.
It’s a good motto to have when you’re in a brand new place. It’s a survival mechanism when you’re in a really strange brand new place.
And because my last two weeks have been filled with starting a new job, learning to teach nine (yes, NINE) new curriculums and dodging my way through streets of scooters that are all out to get me, I have no great words of wisdom to give you. Not that they are ever words of wisdom, but this time I am fresh out of words completely. So, instead, I will shut the what up and share this picture of pretty, pretty Vietnam. This is the beach at the end of my block…now I remember why I moved here!
Amazingly, it’s happening again. What was impenetrably foreign just a mere three days ago has developed some semblance of normalcy; that which seemed would never be understood is already explaining itself, and I am open to its explanation. Somehow even wild, crazy Da Nang, Vietnam has made itself adorably interpretable. Read More…
Can you believe it? My fourth day here and I ran into an old friend! All the way over here in Vietnam! His name is San Miguel. We used to hang out a bit when I lived in Spanish Harlem, and suddenly right in the middle of the market…there he was! Well hello, Delicious. We meet again.
But truth is I did not move to Asia to drink San Miguel. Or to eat KFC. Or pizza – why does every person here ask if I like pizza? Just because I’m American does not mean I love pizza. Ok, fine, I do love pizza (damn you, Accurate Stereotype!), but that’s beside the point. The question is: why did I move to Vietnam?
Because I’m a big, fat dummy.
Turns out eating ice and crossing the road are about the same thing here in Da Nang, Vietnam. All travel blogs say Don’t Drink the Water. Just like that: bold, italicized and underlined to let you know they Really Mean It. And no ice, they remind you. After all ice is water. But the thing is, it’s hot here. Like crazy mo’fo’ f-ing hot. And I’m here for two years. How can I possibly survive without ice? So when faced with my first Vietnamese coffee – iced coffee – I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and slurped like a maniac, hoping to make it to the bottom of the cup before too much ice had seeped its way into my body to twist and mutate my intestines.
It’s the same strategy I’m using to cross the road. In America we call them traffic lights. In South Africa we call them robots. Here we call them…nothing. Why bother naming something you don’t believe in? I say “believe”because driving here is a religion. You believe you have the right of way. Always. You believe those annoying red and green lights above the road are for decoration. And, in order to cross the road, you must blindly, stupidly believe that somehow you will make it to the other side.
Why did the Vietnamese chicken cross the road?
It didn’t, Stupid.
Teaching English has become the hottest new excuse to travel. Between Dave’s ESL Cafe and discounted TEFL courses, everyone is primed to teach their way around the world. Maybe I’m no different. In a few days I’m headed off to Vietnam to meet new students, teach new books and join you bunch of traveling teachers…again.
At the ripe old age of 27 I’m leaving behind the glittery, cocktail infested world of PR (and its more realistic white walled office days) to re-enter a profession that’s a little closer to my heart: teaching. This is a big change. Not only will my new job pull me (and my extremely supportive boyfriend) away to a new continent, it will also require me to dust off my projector, freshen up old lessen plans and remember what it means to teach.