I anticipated that during a year of travel there would be some point where I questioned, what was I doing. Whether it be feeling sad to miss some significant event at home, missing family and friends, or just missing western comforts and feeling tired of living out of a backpack and being on the move. Well, we are pretty much 6 months in and it hit me.
It started off with my brother and sister-in-law leaving. They spent 2 weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand with us. We dropped them off at the airport and I bawled all the way back to our apartment. I think I worried David and even surprised myself a little. I was missing family, friends, community, the known and familiar.
Made it through that, we left Thailand, and journeyed on to Vietnam. Landed in Hanoi and got a few days to explore the Old Quarter and French Quarter. Hanoi is to capital of Vietnam. There are lots of motorbikes zooming. Really just saying that can’t due it justice….there are tons of motorbikes! And it was so interesting to see women selling all kinds of things from their motorbike or bicycle.
Day 4 in Vietnam, less then 2 weeks after my brother left, I got hit with food poisoning. That was not fun. I am not sure if I have ever been that sick…..wow. Now, if you have ever had food poising while traveling or have been sick abroad then you likely remember that feeling. At first you have no idea what to do, just responding to your bodies demands. I am not sure I was able to think about anything for the first 12 hours. Then, once you have a slight reprieve with a little more time between the episodes, that’s when it’s hardest. It’s that natural instinct that kicks in, you feel bad for yourself, you need your own bed, in your own home or a familiar environment. We were scheduled to catch a bus at 6:30am for a 6-hour ride north to Sapa. That was out of the question. So thankful I was not alone because we had to check out of the Airbnb that morning. David to the rescue. He found a hotel literally a 4-minute walk away from where we were and booked us 3 nights there. He packed our backpacks and carry-ons. 20 seconds into our 4-minute walk I got sick again. But we made the journey around the block and checked into the Hilton in Hanoi for 3 nights (I know Jess, it should have been a Marriott but we were desperate for the closest nice hotel).
David knew that in 3 days I could get through it and healthy again. I wasn’t sure at that point if I would ever feel well again. Food poising really, really knocks you down. But, I had a little consciousness to remember my teacher’s teaching that everything in manifest has a beginning, middle, and end. And I knew that my body, thoughts, and emotions were definitely in the manifest world! So, although I felt like I was going to be sick forever, I could trust in the reality that it will pass, and I will feel better again at some point. Now food poisoning could happen anywhere, and I know that. It was bound to happen at some point, it just happened to be Hanoi, Vietnam for me. I spent the next three days in bed and I slowly got better during that time at the Hilton, well enough to get on a bus for our next scheduled trip to Cat Ba Island.
Cat Ba Island is in Halong Bay, known for it’s beautiful views. We had thoughts of taking a day long boat cruise with kayaking included. But, we had a couple days of thundering, lightening, and pouring rain so that was out of the question. We have had mainly sunny skies and warm hot weather every day so far. It’s hard to believe but we have had nearly NO rain since we have been traveling. In our 6 months of traveling I don’t remember it ever raining for more than a few minutes. So, rain was bound to happen at some point. Instead we took the opportunity to rest more, read, and get caught up on emails. Oh, and we watched tv – some movie I have no idea what it was but it was just perfect timing for me to shed more tears. We got a break in the weather on our last day there and rented a “private boat” and got a few hours in the afternoon out in the bay. The boat ran out of gas once, then the engine died, and then the engine died again, and while it did work it billowed out thick black diesel smoke, it made a loud vibrating rumbling sound, so we couldn’t talk to one another without yelling. But, the views were absolutely stunning. Just amazing scenery.
Then there’s those things happening at home that I really wish I was not 8008 miles away from. I googled it, that seems to be the distance from Concord, NH to Cat Ba Island, Vietnam. 8008 miles is really far when you feel like you want to comfort your friend and be comforted by friends. So, you see, it’s all this piling up at this particular point. But wait, I am supposed to feel lucky, fortunate, grateful. I am not working and I am traveling for a year. Yes, I do feel lucky, fortunate, and grateful. For so many things. For my health, for my family and friends, my amazing relationship with my husband, for community, for new opportunities every day to learn and grow. This is the part of traveling and being away for a year that I was curious about. What am I learning, what makes me happy, what do I miss? I am so happy I have a community and invaluable friends that I can miss!
We moved along to Tam Coc and Ninh Binh. This is called the interior Halong Bay. The feeling inside me is shifting. We are in nature again. Very beautiful landscapes with large grassy rock outcroppings sticking up out of the earth in random spots. We spent the day riding bikes around rice fields. It didn’t rain but just a little cloudy which makes the scenery look more dramatic in a way.
I am settling into Vietnam. I feel healthy again. Food poising is a distant memory. The cycle has worked its way around…beginning, middle, end. My feeling of homesickness has subsided. Traveling, which includes experiences like food poising, missing people, missing things, feeling homesick at times, is all of it is part of the experience. We are right in the middle of our 1-year adventure. I am looking forward to our remaining weeks to explore Vietnam and whatever comes next. So grateful to feel homesick and be reminded of how important my family, friends, and community are to me. Miss you all! Now back to Vietnam and this beautiful countryside.