Same Same but Different

I’m always interested in conversing about traveling to anyone. One time, I was talking with a friend about it. She was just got back from her trip to Vietnam, where she spent a good ten days going around the country.

I was ready to talk about Pham Ngu Lao area in Ho Chi Minh city, about side trip to Hoi An or Nha Trang, about the expensive train tickets to foreigner, the infamous Cu Chi tunnels, and so on. Rather, she talked was about her Park Hyatt hotel in Ho Chi Minh city, how she got a great deal in Tràng Tiền Plaza in Hanoi, and about the fine dining in Hanoi that served Vietnamese foods on so many little plates. Continue reading “Same Same but Different”

Early Morning at Nha Trang Station

Anyone would feel crabby after a disturbed, short period of sleep. That is exactly how I felt that time at Train Station in Nha Trang, Vietnam. I only got a few hours of sleep and my roommate was so loud, coming back after being drunk on 3 AM. It is one of the risk of renting a shared room, I know… I didn’t blame him, though I can’t help but feel a bit annoyed by that. Waking up very early in the morning didn’t help at all; I have to catch the train that would leave to Da Nang at 5.36 AM that day.Train ticket vietnam
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I was looking through some old photos in my hard disk, when I found an old photo of my classmate in high school. We were  taking a pic for the opening of sports festival, so all of us was there. My mouse pointer hovering from one face to another… This guy moved to Singapore and become a successful entrepreneur in beauty products. This girl, she took her doctorate degree in Chemistry… I remember she always so good in chemistry class. This other guy, he keeps rocking in his world, last time I heard he went for cave diving in Thailand. This other guy, he was in a band with me, went to US after graduation and back again to become the successor of his family business. Continue reading “Remembrance”

A Quiet Alley

“I like eating alone, and listening to music alone. But when I see a mother with her child, or a girl with her lover, or a friend laughing with his or her best friend, I realize that even though I like being alone, I don’t fancy being lonely.”

I often sneak out in the morning or late at night, just to find peace after a hectic day with the tour group in Barcelona. It was a large group, and even though they are all my family and cousins (and I do love them), sometimes peace can be found by being alone. I woke up early than the others to stroll around the area, bringing my notebook with me.
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A Traveler’s Road

“What’s your road, man? — holy boy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, 
any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow”

-Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I once read a post in a website about what define a traveler. It said that a traveler is someone who always yearn for a new experience; someone who truly lives like the locals instead staying in five-star hotels, who sneer at people who bring around Lonely Planet books and instead travel around as the wind blows. It also said that it sad to think that many “backpackers” are a youth looking for a cheap beer in a tropical country and drunk and party all the time on a beach. That a traveler should do this, a  traveler shouldn’t do that.

I never thought there are so many rules to be a traveler :s
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Backpack and Suitcase

“Luxury is the enemy of observation, a costly indulgence that induces such a good feeling that you notice nothing. Luxury spoils and infantilizes you and prevents you from knowing the world. That is its purpose, the reason why luxury cruises and great hotels are full of fatheads who, when they express an opinion, seem as though they are from another planet. It was also my experience that one of the worst aspects of travelling with wealthy people, apart from the fact that the rich never listen, is that they constantly groused about the high cost of living – indeed, the rich usually complained of being poor.”

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux cannot describe it any better. However, I don’t have anything against luxurious travel, it depends on what you’re looking for when you decided to go somewhere: to be a backpack traveler or a suitcase traveler. Being in a luxurious trip is not all bad too; you work hard to earn money, why not spending it on the trip?

For me, being a traveler require anonymity and a curious mind. Being a ghost in another land where nobody knows you, along with a curiosity to explore the new place will put the mind into an inspirational state. Like an old time traveler: writing notes and fully living in the present to tell the stories to the people back at home. Anonymity requires a certain degree of blending in with the locals. It may seems contradictory, but to really know the place means to live like the people living there. Ride the local bus or train, eat local food at the market, and share stories where locals usually hang out.

While other traveler maybe need companionship and certainty. They don’t like being thrown into spontaneous action, they prefer a fast airplane rather than a long train journey. They like comfortable situation and sightseeing at the same time, like people go into a zoo, watching lions and gorillas and elephants from a distance. Nothing wrong with that… Depending on the people I go with, sometimes I prefer to be in that kind of trip.

However, I feel that to really know the places, to really observe, one have to be in a certain set of mind. Luxury can easily distracting, and more often than not that I find myself a memorable experience from the kindness of strangers, which is hard to find in luxury trip.

These are not options, simply just a description. Choose one or be both, the important thing is to see the world 🙂

Birds in Trees - Andrew Dai

A Stranger in a City

Walking alone on Pont des Arts bridge, across the River Seine, I saw an old couple smile happily, locking their padlock to the bridge. It was a simple red padlock, and maybe what was written with black marker was their name. The key was thrown to the river and the couple kissed. As they walked past me, I heard the old man said that it was stupid while still smiling, and the old lady said that it was fun, while holding his hand.

I watched them as they walked down the bridge, feeling grateful at the warm feeling they gave me. Continue reading “A Stranger in a City”