Today I visited Chinatown for a few hours and walked around the literally thousands of stalls selling just about everything, small Chinese businesses, restaurants, and really crowded streets. I enjoyed it but after about 2 hours I felt done. I stopped to look at Google Maps and decided that I would walk back to my homestay. That’s about 6 km and the navigation said it would take me almost 2 hours if I walked the preferred route. I wanted to walk back so I could say I did it and also to see a part of the city that crosses over district boundaries. It took me a bit longer today because I took a water break at this really nice park with benches that was empty. I sat there for about 30 minutes considering the walk, the trip, life. Its interesting to walk in the places I visit or live in for awhile because I always feel I get something back besides the steps. I get to think. Perhaps over think sometimes. For me walking the hours and hours each day gives me delicious moments to think things through and its always been that way.
Walking in cities has always been something I’ve loved to do because I’ve felt I get a view of the city that buses, cars, even scooters cannot give me. I am at eye level and see the people. Perhaps I take a route less traveled even if it adds more to the walk.
Today was no different. I’ve been contemplating a lot on the retirement lately. Thinking about how the days have slowly evolved. I’ve been able to be in a few places in Vietnam and I feel fortunate but there is more than just the being places I think. I’ve watched so many other people traveling through. I’ve watched expats and digital nomads and round the world travelers and others. I sit there in the corner in the ice cream restaurant and watch just the same as I do over my morning coffee. I guess I’m interested in what motivates them, what their triggers are, what things make them mad, happy, sad.
I’ve only met a few other people and three have blogs that have left forever. I don’t know if there are lots of others out there that are doing this as well. For me, it was not just retirement although the regular payments helped. The significant part in retrospect was the waiting believe it or not. My mom used to tell me if I waited for something that would make the whole thing more valuable. Of course, I was a kid. I had kid impatience and wanted it all when I wanted it.
I learned on this thing that I could not just go when I wanted. There were things that had to happen certain ways. Blocks had to be stacked in an order to allow the randomness later. I had to have work which did a certain thing for me. I had to pay off debts, get rid of everything, leave with a clean slate and not leave with affairs not covered at home.
I think all of this contributed to where I am now when I walk and see a city like Ho Chi Minh City. I feel not only the genuine happiness of each day’s walk and sights I have seen but there is a more basic thing about the vagabonding. I’m finally allowed to be random and not have that incipient project management thing which I always had hanging over me.
I believe that solo travel leads to introspection and analysis and the solitude may help a person find the inner strength when times are bad and it may also be less than positive. It may cause loneliness and anger at times. I’ve only felt the loneliness once and ice cream and a mall helped out. How do we cope with the singular movement and what does it take for the person in the singular to move slowly through the world?
Sitting in my room at the homestay with the AC going and the feet sore and the feelings good, its dawned on me more than a few times that it has been the best of times and the worst of times as Dickens said. But there is an essence to the solo vagabonding. A thing that belies all attempts at defining because it is beyond all those things. I’ve felt akin to it a few times but I am no closer to understanding its shadowy presence or what it means.
All I know…
All I know is that I must move yet move slowly. There is not a thing awaiting on the road. Vagabonding has no end state. Its a process that evolves but never ends. We find ourselves in new places like I will in a few days. Perhaps a new country. Maybe a passing discussion in a coffee shop.
Anyways, I also wanted to share the album of my travels the last almost 30 days here. Its been a great experience seeing the city. I don’t think I will come back here but the city has a wonderful spirit and essence that is funky and fun and full of gracious and great people.
The next post most likely will see me in Da Lat Vietnam. The central highlands and new places to go get lost in!