• johnny b

southern vietnam: security through validation

Updated: Sep 20, 2018

onwards and upwards. i booked my bus ticket earlier in the day for an approximate 11 pm take off. leaving ho chi minh to move on to dalat, vietnam. as i discussed my travel destinations with slim jim earlier that afternoon, he gave me a stink eye, with a compassionate smirk of course.

"dalat?! why dalat?! honeymoon central...you have wife?"

the tour group and i laughed with his energy. "no slim jim, but if it's honeymoon central, i shouldn't go alone, huh? would you like to join me?" i reached over to caress his left arm.

he snapped forward with a belly aching laugh, "no...you not lady." we all continued to giggle with our slim as the trip came to an end.

loading the sleeper bus just around 11 pm, i threw my backpack in the cabin below, removed

my shoes after immediately stepping on (as required), and searched for my assigned and reclined sleeper bus bed.

this excursion was not supposed to land at the dalat bus station until 7 am. that means this bus situation once again, doubles as a hostel as with the overnight ferry i adventurously took in thailand.

the one piece of information that was withheld when purchasing my bus ticket...that the driver received his work experience, from playing the video game "crazy taxi"! not sure if he was drugged up, hated his job, or had a bet with fellow bus drivers on who would get the sleepy tourists to dalat first, but this ride came straight from an "indiana jones" chase scene. lights were flickering on and off, "honk, honk, honk," tokyo drifting on turns, and "baby driver" grinning from ear to ear with dilated pupils. so was i going to get good sleep...you be the judge of that one.

needless to say, our bus driver was the champion (eye roll)! whatever bet this crazy taxi bus ride was on the line for, he won gold. we got in at 4 am. 4 am! 3 hours earlier than scheduled. this early arrival may have been appreciated at a different time of day and if i had a room booked and was able to check in, but neither was a factor i had going for me. as we departed the sleeper bus from hell, i landed in the chilly bus station which had free wifi (phew!), big spooned my back pack with a kung foo grip, and fell asleep in the empty room of cushioned metal benches.


something that i have become hyper aware of on this trip. when i have time to process life, when i am not engaging with others or involved in a very focus driven activity, it is easiest for me to lose track of my thought. typically, i fall into a preoccupied mindset and i fret the future or regret the past in some way or another. 5 hour bus rides, 2.5 hour plane rides, coffee date with myself in some random park which i sit and journal/relax for an hour. while vagabonding, these are the most challenging times to "live in the now," "enjoy the moment," and "be present." yes, i may be enjoying my existence in these situations and have moments of tranquility, but that does not mean my mind does not also get preoccupied with something from my life which is truly unnecessary to stir about, a distraction.

but there is something great here. if you can achieve a level of awareness to acknowledge this, you can overcome.


“the moment you notice you are not present, you are present.” eckhart tolle

attacking this challenge from multiple angles, one being the work with rachel. as a child, i dug in the backyard of my parents house, what i thought was the route to china. while i never reached the asian continent (until now!), i became more and more aware that this hole i was digging was a dark and scary, emotional space where i became so detracted from my emotions and my being, ultimately silencing myself and my soul.

this hole, created a developmental road block, and what the psychology world calls a preoccupied insecure attachment. feel free to look it up and see how it makes you feel. then read the rest about the attachment theory in general. some data i have read suggests there to be a quarter of the population which has developed the preoccuppied insecure attachment model. if i remember correctly, half the population is to have a secure attachment and the rest fall under different styles of insecure attachment than the aforementioned. for myself, this underdevelopment has created mountains of anxieties and valleys of depression. no matter how much value others saw in me, i saw none. no matter how great my relationships were, i questioned where they stood.

exposure. awareness. recognition. acceptance. without being exposed/aware of what is going on, how was i supposed to recognize and accept this? and of course, if i am not accepting of something i am aware of...how do i overcome. this journey, i have brushed off forever. and i think this is a rhetorical statement, but obviously something i have accepted, currently existing in, and overcoming.

so, my question has been, why am i not able to "live in the now?" does this new found developmental hiccup potentially answer why? i wouldn't say fully, but it is a huge variable. because I don’t feel secure with myself and ultimately the world, I am emotionally preoccupied with where I stand in my relationship with others. with my family, friends, boyfriend at the time, co-workers…everyone really. my mind does not segregate!

I could be wrong, but I think at the deepest root of my underdeveloped being, I am preoccupied with where I stand with myself. at my core, I am rejecting parts of my identity still. despite “accepting” my sexuality and coming out almost ten years ago, this does not mean the switch of hatred for myself has been immediately flipped off in every necessary sense. we are creatures of habit. and plenty of these habits are hard to identify. there is childhood developmental issues that arise here and work needs to be done.

through the past few years of therapy, there are plenty of specifics i am unaware of. but once receiving the first two gifts discussed in my first blog of this adventure, we began to fertilize my new roots. the roots of the development of my person, which was beginning to morph into a securely developed being.

despite slim jim not joining on our honeymoon, dalat was a pleasant, quaint town. after i

finished up my bus station slumber, i ventured up and down the "san francisco" hilly roads, weaving in and out of the outdoor produce and meat markets.


outdoor meat market you may inquire...yes, in fact...no refrigeration required! which is actually in line with 9 cfr 381.66 of the vietnamese department of agriculture, funny enough (jokes). the flies were roaming from slaughtered hog to headless chicken, having the time of their lives. i was on constant drool, wanting to find some sausage makers and help out.

coming up short, and not wanting to step in warm animal bodily fluids anymore, i located a coffee shop to re-energize. as i ordered coffee and began to browse the interwebs for a hostel, i began to realize i was not interested in spending too much time on my first honeymoon alone. i decided quickly that no more than 2 days was plenty. i then found a hostel which looked like it had a good social scene, and booked one night in order to give myself the flexibility to bounce the next day if desired.

once landing at my hostel around 11 am, and in need to launch my back pack across the room (was just urban hiking with everything i owned for the past 3 hours), i got a run down from the hostel team on what to do while in dalat. there were options from adventurous outdoor trips (which surprised me due to the honeymoon sell by slim) and city/countryside tours to learn more about the culture and agricultural roots of the area. after showering and feeling revived from the long night which lead into the current hostel situation, i was set on doing some urban hiking to finish out today and chose to go canyoning the next day.


back in 2009, i almost went canyoning in switzerland (the sprouts of my never ending travel bug). ultimately i had to supplement that adventure with atv riding with my best bud mitch, due to recent reconstructive hip surgeries. the fear of reinjuring while still healing was high, but can't complain. the bromantic day trip throughout the base of the swiss alps, and a stop for cherry pie and a cold glass of milk while watching an ever slow moving glacier was not the worst thing to be doing in the world.

anywho, back to dalat. the afternoon was full of temple hopping and a cable car excursion. around supper time, i settled back into the hostel and had a nice family meal with about 15 other backpackers. sharing stories of our previous adventures, and getting positive reinforcement for the canyoning trip i was to go on, the night was spent singing along while a fellow chicagoan fingered away on the guitar. "wonderwall", "tears in heaven", "good riddance". bon fire songs. you name it, he dabbled, we sang.

as we went late into the night, i eventually turned in. i had an early morning ahead, and was up by 7:30 am for my canyoning adventure! canyoning by the way is an outdoor activity, journeying through canyons utilizing different techniques which includes but not limited to swimming, repelling, climbing, and sliding. between the family of 3 from LA, an aussie, and a group of korean buds, we had a great team. (in addition to the amazing tour guides of course who would consistently sounded the alarms..."crazyyyy not lazyyyyyy") repelling off rock formations into ponds, cliff jumping from as high as 11 meters (do the math...carry the one, minus the 7, multiply by pi...approximately 36 feet), and sliding down smooth-ish rock formations, we all received a good handful of syringe shots of adrenaline!

as the trip started to decline in terms of duration, and we had to hike an incline for a half

hour to get out, the conversation with my family friends of 3 grew a little deeper. "what

do you do back home?" "well then, what do you do back home?" "how come the father isn't here?" "oh, i'm sorry, if you don't mind me asking, why is he not in the picture?" "how come you quit the family business?" the polite questioning transitioned into f bombs and guards falling down by the push of a button. i opened up about my struggle with my ex-boyfriend and the role my insecurities played in our tug of war. shared my need for a reset in life and quitting the family business after 6.5 years.

it can be very difficult to be vulnerable and share your deepest struggles, but man. 90% of people will receive you well. in my opinion, worth the risk in terms of developing love for yourself through validation from other compassionate human beings. especially when you receive others and the baggage they bring to the table with compassion. yet again, not only showing how backpacking is liberating, but how vulnerability is truly the key to leading a successful life.

i don't have a great way to end this. just be vulnerable. and allow others to do the same.

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Chicago, IL 

Are there insecurities and anxieties that rule your life?  Are they possibly deep rooted due to struggling with your identity for years?  Shoot me a message and let's talk.  No commitment needed, always nice to get some pain off your chest by talking with someone who cares!

equalityamerica@gmail.com

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