Archive for the ‘Better late then never’ Category

Central Vietnam is really glorious. I really enjoyed my last days in Hanoi, but it has been good to slow down the pace in Hue and Hoi An. As I rounded the corner on the bus from Hue to Hoi An, and we entered Da Nang I got a really weird feeling. I suddenly had a realization that this was the city of my conception and the birthplace of my brother. There was a visceral feeling of deja vu, coming home, I’ve been here before, all of it rolled into one – even though it was my first time to Da Nang.

Hoi An is just lovely, similar to the slow, sweet pace of Luang Prubang, Laos. It’s a small, lowscale city that hugs a river with narrow streets. And the food is amazing! I had a wonderful cooking class today that began with a 2-hour tour of the market. We sampled sweet drinks, fruit I’d never seen before, cookies with minced pork. I learned about different types of rice, how to pick a ripe pomelo (it should be heavy), select fresh fish (besides clear eyes, also peer into the gills to see fresh blood), and the folk tale behind the betel nut. I have walked through this market many times already, but now it has new meaning to me. And this is what this trip has been for me. I have always been living my life, but now I feel SO ALIVE! (more on that in a bit)

I frequently run into travellers that I have met in other cities, since many of us are on the same Southeast Asia loop, and everyone starts to look a bit familiar. So I’m walking down the street yesterday and see a familiar face in a store – but then I realize it really IS a familiar face, a friend from Seattle! How bizarre is that? The world is so very small, and I’m about to make it a lot smaller. So here is the big news…

This trip has been truly life changing. I’ve always known that the biggest barrier in life is myself. So I’ve decided to conquer my fears, take the big leap, and stay in Southeast Asia for awhile. I have absolutely loved my work at the foundation. But for some time, I’ve felt removed from the clients and have been wanting to get back into the field to get refreshed/recharged. In Halong Bay, I met an Australian-Vietnamese woman who was taking a one year sabbatical to travel and volunteer. She was headed to Tam Ky, the region of my mother’s birthplace, to volunteer at orphanages through the Global Volunteer Network. It seemed like total kismet to meet her and learn about this opportunity. Tomorrow, I’ll visit her and the orphanages. For the first time in my adult life, I am totally free to do anything – unemployed, single, no children. I know that as soon as I return to the US, I’ll find a job, fall in love, and have children shortly. I may never have this moment again.

In Hanoi, my friends showed me the holiday postcard I’d sent them in 2000, declaring that I was going to move to Vietnam in 2001. During my first trip to Vietnam in 1998, I had every intention of saving money in the US, and then moving to Vietnam for a few years. But then life catches up with you and I never did move to Vietnam. So here I am again, and this time I’m going to seize this moment. I’ll volunteer in Vietnam for three months, travel in Asia, and then return to Vietnam to work for an NGO. This is an evolving plan, so please let me know if you have any connections in Southeast Asia, ideas, etc.

Internet is really slow again so no photos, sorry. My thanks to all of you for being with me on this journey, and the many journeys ahead!

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