This is the sixth month of vagabonding so slowly, ever so slowly it seems sometimes, in Southeast Asia. I’ve been to Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. My tourist visa here in Vietnam runs out mid September so August is the last full month. I feel pretty fortunate to have seen so many places, met some really nice Vietnamese people, taken photographs of day after day of walking the cities. Something about that walking has been so important to me. There is the health part perhaps of doing 5 to 7 miles most every day of the week but there is more than that. There is the sense of “being there”.
The roads that have let me travel them have criss-crossed both the map and my memory. I remember these small side streets in Shinjuku, the alley ways in Hong Kong, and the Hems in Vietnam. All three are microcosms of life. They each have social, economic, and cultural value. I think they create a local culture for the folks that live there. Why travel out to buy small grocery items or get your hair done when there is a place two doors down with a person you live next to. Perhaps have tea with. Maybe a few beers. Its a richer context than any I ever saw in the states.
Now being at the 6 month window, I took a longer walk today to reflect on the meanings of the travel, how enriching its been, once how lonely and sad I felt, but mostly how just about every fucking thing in my life has changed. There is nothing that’s the same as it was living in California and working each day. Everything has spun on its axis and given me yet another view of the months.
The other thing which I feel I am getting better at or at least asking more questions about is photography. I will never be a “photographer”. I don’t line up shots and care about composition. What I do care about is liking the photography I do by walking each day. Its a perfect hobby for someone that walks every day I think. You don’t have to be good or even want to be good to have a real camera. You can simply want something that’s different that expands your world and gives you a digital view on the places you’ve been. I chose one camera. You may choose a different one. Kudos to you! The primary thing for me is the exploration of streets and people and seeing how nature and sky and clouds all interact to give you a view of a day. It matters not that you have walked that way before. You know that everything changes every minute.
A final thing is the solitary travel itself. There is a certain value to being on one’s own, finding my own way, not being beholden to anyone out there. Its independence of knowing I can turn left or right and no one is there to argue or dismiss the decision. But I think its not for everyone this solo vagabonding. You may do a week or a month in a place like Europe and think you got it nailed. Sorry! But Asia has its own rules and its not the same. You will have to learn it all over again but with new rules.
So, as August starts and I have a few day tours and trips lined up out of Da Lat, I’ve realized that its not the far flung future when someone asks what I’ll be doing next year. Truth be told, for decades I was responsible to have the answer. It was,
I’ll be working of course. I’ll be responsible of course. I’ll be accountable of course.
Now those words don’t hold up. I’ve lived this times and came out the other end. In September, it will be time to move along out of Vietnam and that will be bad and good. I truly love this country and the people but nothing stays static and I have other places to get to. Cambodia awaits with new adventure and museums and monuments. I’m sure the FujiFilm X100F will be happy to click click those pictures too. And my feet and legs will be tired but they’re willing to go yet another mile and see whatever awaits to the left at the turn ahead.