memories materialize before my head even hits the pillow. Leaving China behind and heading south again through the misty jungles of Vietnam and the ancient temples of Cambodia has stirred something within me that had been lying dormant over the past few weeks - the sense of wander and loss, aimlessness and purpose, naked violent independence and the hollow emptiness of lone solitude - an urge that calls but has no name. The feeling is a familiar one I’ve felt on this journey before, but this time with the moment so close I can taste the bitter sweet reality of it all. It’s hard to contain my subconscious thoughts and my mind explodes with the possibilities and repercussions of innermost desires and their consequent actions. The burning drive to leave it all behind - buy a cheap, dirty, reliable bike and ride off into the countryside to lose and find myself at the same time. I don’t know what I’m searching for or what a solo motorcycle trip down the heart of the SE Asian continent will do to help me find it. All I know is the gaping hole in my heart and the yearning tendons of my soul are leading me down a path, fearful and unknown, into the uncharted wilderness of self exploration. And I must heed that call. For whatever decisions and occurrences brought me here, I’ve devoted this experience to bettering myself and learning the
deepest capabilities and darkest secrets of my existence. Pushing myself to the brink of oblivion and pulling back at the last minute to test and temper my character in the face of adversity. This part of the journey, I can only do alone. No one can help me to unravel the tightly wound ball that is years of pent up habits and negative conditioning.
I awake to the muffled sounds of my friends voices going back and forth as the dream fades and reality slips into tune. Still in a fog from the whirl of emotions tugging at my subconscious, I list through the day in this new place with sparks of enlightenment and lingering apprehension. I know now what I must do, and the strength of my convictions gives me a sense of peace and security at whatever the future may bring - but the path is dark ahead and I know it. I know it in the back of my mind, and every spare moment is spent steeling my will to face whatever challenges loom on the horizon. Presentient of a turbulent chapter in my life and an unpredictable future ahead, I look from face to face of the two friends who are with me and have an ominous feeling the next time we meet will be under drastically different circumstances. For better or worse, in Vietnam, I head into the heart of the unknown with nothing but two wheels and a prayer.
After a ten hour bus ride through the dead of night, we arrive at the China-Vietnam border. It's 4 am and the customs office doesn’t open up for another three hours. Early against our will for once we're forced to improvise and choose between sleeping in the streets or wandering through the pitch black ghost town that is Hekou in search of some sort of sheltered respite. Delirious from exhaustion and our senses dulled from the hour, we decide to go off hunting for temporary accommodations that are a little more suitable than the open air and cold pavement of the city sidewalks. Rounding a corner, the iridescent neon glow of a Chinese hotel hovers in the distance. After a few innocent smiles and some confused banter with the two guards found sleeping in the lobby, we convince them to let us rest on their couches and wait for the border crossing to open in the morning. Completely drained from lack of sleep, the world dims and a swirl of conjured dreamscapes and