6pm ain't 6am

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
1
56
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Trip End Jul 27, 2011


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Where I stayed
Floating on the Mekong, no overnight

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, March 20, 2011

My day starts with another transit story. You must be bored of them by now. I'll spare you too many details this time. Let me just say that setting your alarm for 6pm when you need to be up at 6am does not work very well. That's how my last few hours in Vietnam kicked off.

On the Mekong River now, I sit in a slow boat, all my jiggly bits vibrating from the energy of the engine. On the riverside, life is passing by. People live in rickety stilt houses made of wood, bamboo and corrugated tin or on boat houses. Kids wave at us from the shore, their floating homes or canoes. I'll miss the frequent sight of peaceful, lazy water buffaloes. I know I'll still have the chickens and roosters in Phnom Penh. 
It's barely past 10am when we pass a wedding. I would have mistaken it for a bar or club, had our tour guide not told us that it is a wedding. People are sitting around on the typical little plastic stools and loud techno music is blaring across the river.
Next, a family of ducks waddling out out of the water, then kids splashing around, swimming, waving, more boats in washed out colours, tree roots, local Mekong people going about their daily business or napping in hammocks or bathing. And so the scene repeats itself.
My tour guide is resting her feet on my backpack. I am too exhausted to do or say anything.
At the border, I watch tiny men with steal bodies pulling in fish nets. Two of them lift out their net together in a synchronized, smooth motion. A well rehearsed dance, like a pas-de-deux.
 
My new visa sticker welcomes me back to Cambodia. 3 more hours on the river. The buffaloes have given way to cows on the Cambodian side of the Mekong. There are fewer fishing activities to be observed (maybe because it is afternoon?). Every few hundred meters, kids are waving at us, showing off and splashing excitedly in the water. People are bathing themselves and their cattle.

This visit should be a little different. I am returning to Encounters/Nomads Backpackers hostel to help out for a few days, get a sense for the business side of backpacking and a little taste of the expat working life. Just out of curiosity. Who knows, this could come in handy one day…..

On the last trip leg, one hour in a mini bus, I am reading Martel's 'Life of Pi’, which touches me with its beautiful language. It makes me want to wrap what I see in words just as beautiful and metaphoric for you to imagine what I see on my travels. I feel humbled at my amateurish writing attempts. Probably not a valid aspiration, to compare myself to an award winning, best-selling author. It reminds me how prone I am to compare myself to others. Such an easy trap to fall into that has often held me back, or even made me feel inferior. I know that life isn’t about comparisons, just the way I am confident that the ‘normal’ life my mother wishes for me would only serve her personal definition of ‘normal’. Yet I find it hard to stay away from this comparison game, always have. Even though I know that I have inspired a person or two. I’ll try practice basking in that knowledge some more then, shall I?!                                     

Those last few thoughts took me a while to decide to actually share here. For some time I was hesitant wondering if this is getting too personal. It wouldn’t be the first time, I write stuff that’s going through my head. When I first started this blog, I figured I wouldn’t care to read things like "I had Vietnamese Pho for breakfast, went to see x temple and y museum. It was very pretty. At night I ate street food and drank cheap beer." Boring! And the historical and geological facts of places, even more boring. You can look those up on Wiki better than my account could do it justice. Hence, I ended up with a lot of rambling on this blog. Random thoughts, impressions and the less pleasant transit stories and anecdotes. I hope you don’t mind. Sometimes though, I have wondered if what is in my head should be quite this public. I haven’t finished wondering. But I figure this is who I am. I’ve always quickly shared personal stuff with strangers, co-workers, co-travelers, random folks. Diplomacy has never been my strength, nor has keeping a public face. I am aware this might not be the smartest approach. But that’s how I am, call it na´ve. I don’t feel like changing it – that wouldn’t be me. So! With that out of the way, forgive me for being a bit of a freak and letting you into my head at times ;)
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Comments

Steve Delorme on

Hennie,
I am doing a big catch up today on your travels. It's a lazy and cold (even snowy) Sunday in mid April in Toronto and reading your travel journal has taken me far away. Thanks, it's just the entertainment I needed today.

I love that you write about and photograph everyday things, like what you ate and where you visited. Sharing your inner self is lovely too. I hope you continue writing about the sights you've seen and experiences you've had, without any self judgement.

Keep traveling & be safe!

Steve

henniterness
henniterness on

Many thanks Steve :) Appreciate the feedback and you following along.

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