i know. there is such a thing as airplanes, but i had to. after canyoning throughout vietnam's honeymoon central, it was time to grab another night bus. this one was not overnight but was supposed to take approximately 9 hours. despite the bus ride to dalat being a near train wreck, i did arrive in one piece so i decided to take the risk.
from my recollection, this round went much smoother. the lights stayed off. the bus driver took the turns easy. our bus stayed in it's lane. so...we slept. we had our mid journey break for pho, coca-cola, and toilet, and ultimately arrived in the beautiful beach town of quy nhon around 1 am.
as a handful of us transferred from a large bus to a small van to get into town, i was reminded of the difficulty it is to travel in another country in which one does not speak the language. in the cities of ho chi minh and hanoi (larger cities of vietnam), not speaking the language is welcomed, provided you spend your tourist money there. but when you get to central vietnam, in a beach town where tourism has yet to piss on it's fire hydrant, one like myself communicates through hand gestures, smiles, and...google translator. as a last resort of course. part of the fun is in this struggle!
my new shepherd, van driver, somehow got me right in front of my hostel. praise be! while not tiny, this city was a ghost town by 1 am on a school night. my concern...I'm not sure if i come across as food or not to this city's night crew!
entering the hostel i am immediately greeted with some smack talk by a couple brits and a celt. the world cup semi-finals between croatia and england were minutes away from starting and for some reason they felt like picking on the american for our lack of appearance. we had some good laughs and i ran up to my room to cleanup and then rush back down to join the islanders for the match.
to their surprise, i came running down ready to go. the two male brits thought they may have spooked me off, but i was actually more ready than ever for some beers and futbol! as we gallivanted, we stumbled upon a restaurant with a conference room size table full of locals drinking beers and eating scorpions while viewing the semi-final match. while half of them gestured for us to join, the other half pulled up seats and cracked open beers for us. yet another welcoming that is hard to come by where i hail from.
i still had not had a chance to get to know my new british and irish friends, so i took the time to get to know the lovely irish female while the two of us cheers'd with the locals every 5 minutes. after she got more stares from some of the vietnamese men then should had anticipated, and after she discovered that any of the stares i give her are for completely different reasons, she quickly asked me to pretend to be her boyfriend. i quickly obliged. she truly had nothing to worry about, i don't want it to sound like these gentleman i just complimented for being so welcoming were now the creepiest creeps. i think it's safe to assume, if you are a woman and traveling alone, it is not the worst idea to find some safety to be at your side especially when 1 am and beers are involved.
so as we all know, or at least can google if you'd like to fact check (i promise i'm not sharing alternative facts here), england got the boot from croatia in a tight match ending 2-1. my british male counterparts were not the slightest in the mood to continue on roaming the social scene of quy nhon, so the four of us turned in for the night. i was quite happy with this as i'm pretty sure one more shot of anything, including water, would have landed my face on the bar, throwing big zs out of my mouth. tomorrow was going to be a full day of adventuring for me, but one that would definitely have to start with a place with free wifi. besides the name of the town i knew absolutely zilch in regards to where i was currently residing.
as previously mentioned, the attachment theory was something heavy on my mind. discovering that i had developed a preoccupied insecure attachment allowed me to recognize and understand so many pieces of my being that have caused much of my anxieties over the years.
stop. what is happening right now for me? this piece of recognition...what is that? if you said awareness you're on to something. one of the most useful tools we all possess as human beings. especially during evolutionary transitions of the mind. if you can be aware and recognize narratives in your mind, scripts you have with friends and family. if you can acknowledge what's going on upstairs, you can eventually evolve it to align with who you truly are.
so on this part of the trip, i begin to contemplate the topic of influence. specifically, how i have allowed other people's opinions to influence me in a way which directed me towards living a life of false identity. causing me to question my core being constantly, and ultimately created a different person in order to adhere to these opinions.
while acknowledging all of this, becoming aware of the fact that i am currently existing as a being who is not truly me, i am completing the first step. awareness. back in chicago, with the help of my therapist i was able to recognize value in myself and attain self love which then allows me to move on to the next step. that of which is to rewrite/rewire.
in establishing self love at my core, something quite rewarding just occurred. i turned the key and locked the self love in, allowing myself to have a completely new view on life and how i approach every day. instead of regretting the past and worrying about the future, which was unfortunately the only way i knew how to live, i have found a path of stillness. a path which allows me to enjoy the current moment for exactly what it is and be still when i find myself fully centered.
what i have found super interesting in regards to my daily life since establishing this self love, i now have a completely new perspective. these scripts, these narratives, these processes in my head, all of which were written by a being unwilling to love himself, are now being viewed and lived out by a being who now does in fact contain self love at his core. and what's crazy about this? many of these processes that i currently possess now need minor to full out re-engineering now that i love myself. they don't serve my new me, so...toodaloo!
for example, with the nay sayers mentioned above. the ones that provide life on a silver platter of dos and donts, yays and nays, rights and wrongs, when i'm a gentleman who loves fluidity and swims in the gray area of life...time to rewrite how i process their opinions. these opinions which are more concrete on how the world works, while not wrong, time for me to rewrite how i listen, digest, and react to these opinions. because while i come from a place of fluidity and more of a gray approach to life, outside opinions always have value no matter how distant from gray they may actually be.
as i begin to decipher what i truly want to do with my life in every waking moment, compared to how i felt all others would like me to show up, i am rewriting narratives which are my foundation. the structure of my yesterdays were full of anxiety, driven by a foundation which sought approval. the structure of my todays and tomorrows will be full of calmness, driven by a foundation of compassion.
my todays, my decisions? this will need to be worked on. we can make decisions which are to aid others, accommodate others, sacrifice for others. but when they are made at the expense of oneself and without self love, on repeat...sleep walking occurs.
for my first full day in quy nhon i decided to rent a motor scooter and explore. there are
beaches, temples, bays covered with fishing boats, hotels, restaurants, locals to meet, and plenty to discover...especially with no agenda. what experiences stick out the most for me are my interactions with the quy nhon vietnamese people. from past experiences you have read about and ones yet to be told, the vietnamese were consistently welcoming, warming individuals. ones who literally knew how to hug your soul. and once again, this part of the country possessed the same quality.
looking through pictures, i am able to count selfies with 4 different vietnamese men who i had never met in my life before, go figure. at ky co beach of quy nhon, i body surfed the shared waves and exchanged smiles, laughs, head nods, eye squints, and high fives with at least 5 vietnamese men and women who i had again, met for my first time.
after drying off and scooting around the small fisherman's area of houses, docks, and boats, i drove past an outdoor volleyball court. well, when i say drove past, i more mean screeched the scooter to an immediate halt! without hesitation, parked my scooter, removed my helmet, and peered through the steel bar fence surrounding a game of 6 vs. 6. after watching for a quick 2 seconds, i walked through the gate which looks like it should be still locked, and approached the court. through the eye contact which was made, i understood quickly that the english language was not a common denominator between me and them.
but, volleyball was. so, i gestured with my hands. double tapped my chest, and then pointed on the court. i still did speak english..."me, play?" because subconsciously my mind told me too. i repeated this gesture with a huge one sided smile to the small crew on the sideline. as they rotated their heads back and forth to look at me and then again at each other, i was given the impression that they understood and were deliberating. almost all at once, three of my new found vietnamese brothers looked right at me and the leader of the pack nodded his head, smiled, and said "ya!" ...i'm in!
assuming king of the court is a universal, solo court sport language, i waited patiently til the current game was over. before i even stepped onto the court however, i noticed something verrrrrrrrrry interesting. half of the current players were in flip flop sandals. the other half were barefoot. and for the court, that was concrete, which was slightly broken up in certain places creating concrete pebbles to be dispersed all over. hmmph?
when in rome ladies and gentleman, such a perfect traveler's motto. despite having a high grade partial ACL tear less than a year ago, and treating it with stem cells removed from my pelvic bones, this was not a lay on the beach vacation. when opportunity strikes, especially in the form of the beloved sport of volleyball, i approach and aim for the ten foot line. when the match ended i approached the court and literally followed pointing fingers, smiles, and laughs until i interpreted my desired starting position.
feeling a little nervous on whether or not i was going to "show up", the laughter and smiles from my end counter balanced appropriately. sure enough, i was positioned in my favorite spot (#4 on the court for all those who play), and was set by the setter on my team, the first play of the game. as i approached, lifted my body off the ground, and attacked the ball, i sailed it with strength wayyyyyyyyyy out of bounds. shaking my head out of disappointment, i couldn't help but laugh along side my vietnamese volleyball buds.
as the game continued, we did not rotate positions and it seemed that we would hold our spots the entire game. as this meant i would be in my favorite position for the rest of our play, i had no complaints! not that complaining in english would have got me anywhere anyways. after sailing my first attempt, my team was quickly ready to give me my a shot at redemption. the ball went back and forth, and my setter elegantly set the ball my way. as i approached for round two, i positioned my self properly and swung away. striking the ball in the right direction, and slam! with force, the ball planted on the opposing teams slab of concrete, and within the boundaries of the court. point for us!
smiles and more laughter were exchanged and before you knew it, my side of the court won 2 out of 3 games! with our third loss, i wiped the concrete pebbles off my bare feet and put my sandals back on as i proceeded to my bike. as i yelled my goodbyes and through up some waves, the ring leader yelled back at me "tomorrow!...tomorrow!" i smiled and laughed, "what time?!" not being understood, we laughed again and i pointed to my wrist, once again yelling "what time?!" and then pointed to the sun, and then...and then he understood. "4!"..."no...5!" i nodded my head and said "maybe!" and we all smiled and i left.
knowing i was leaving for a new city tomorrow, i left it at that, but was humbled that i was invited to join them for another session. i honked one more goodbye and was on my way back to the hostel. taking the long way home i was hoping to pass a temple or two to have physical reminder of what i was doing out here.
scooting the back roads, following my desired path on my google maps, it began to get quite dark out. i somehow got onto a narrow path but was speeding my way, the long, scenic way home. all of a sudden, little pebbles started smacking my face. i couldn't for the life of me understand what was going on. going in my eyes, my mouth, smacking my bare shoulders and legs...what kind of plague did god send down this time?!
it was bugs! i don't know what kind and honestly don't care to find out, but they were smacking me for at least 10 minutes as i was trying to decipher where i was going exactly. passing through little, itsy bitsy towns, typically with at least one bar and one restaurant, i decided it was time for a quick meal and rest before i get too lost amongst this plague!
language yet again was a struggle for ordering food, but fortunately a neighbor was enlisted to help decipher what i was going to eat. i ended up ordering a ramen dish with meat and veggies, and patiently waited using the free wifi to help me figure out my pathway home. the food came rather quickly and after taking my first bite, the neighbor who helped me order, motioned me his way. in broken english, he invited this lone traveler to sit with his family. there was 7 of them, and an empty chair was pulled out from under the table which was situated next to his uncle.
a beer was cracked and placed in front of me. stares, smiles, and giggles were being passed around by everyone, including me. "dzo!" again, "dzooo!" this time with a clink of cans in front of me. their beer was being shared by my new uncle which met with a stare that ordered joyful compliance.
"dzo!" i repeated as i accepted the invitation, clinked cans now three, and took a good chug. learning of the neighbor's recent marriage to his beautiful wife across the table. being offered muscles marinated in lemon grass and garlic broth. my buddy's wife rolling a fresh spring roll for me and the uncle making what i could only imagine is his favorite dipping sauce. i think i'm in heaven.
my neighbor's aunt, who was running the restaurant, proceeded to throw death stares at me as i continued to politely accept what was offered. in some cultures to accept on first invitation is rude. i did not have this in mind, but in hindsight i definitely followed this rule of them and accepted after food and beer was insisted. these death stares playfully worried me and as i typed how i was feeling in google translator, my neighbor friend kept the spirits sky high and laughed at the vietnamese translation. he translated back that i had nothing to worry about, she just wants to make sure she gets paid. totally understood and with the swipe of my hands tossed her the money i had owed. they insisted that anything additional from the family meal was on them, which i graciously appreciated.
laughs and a promise that my menu interpreter would visit chicago and stay with me if he
ever makes it out to the u.s.a. is how we ended the meal. we became friends on facebook to stay in contact and he directed me back to the downtown area. this day will no question be one of the best days of the trip, and yea...best days of my life. holding each other with compassion and join, both sides of the equation, everyone who i met today. there's an unfortunate truth that this is not common in today's world at least where i come from, but definitely something i will now strive to live for every waking moment.
today and for the future tomorrows, there are moments of life that i have lived which were ran by a non self loving individual. nowadays, sometimes quite frequently, i find myself reliving past cycles and feeling the urge to rewrite as mentioned above, with this now self loving core. sometimes these moments are insanely infrequent due to their lack of daily necessity, yet i still feel the need to rewrite with self love at the helm. the beauty here is that i have noticed, for me, that when this rewriting does in fact occur, almost without hesitation an extremely involuntary deep breath flows through my body, a slight weight is lifted from my being, and i take my next step in life another notch closer to who i was truly created to be.
i can only imagine that when these moments occur for myself, or anyone, they are quite euphoric. your physical body may react differently than a deep breath, or a smile, but note that our physical and mental beings are so aligned that no question an evolution upstairs causes an evolution downstairs to follow right behind.
discover and create self love at your core. approach life with this new perspetive. rewrite/rewire.