(journal excerpt: February 17, 2012-Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)
Still here, in Ho Chi Minh and I admit it’s been a bit difficult to think of where we want to go next. We decided early on that we wouldn’t be revisiting all the areas of Vietnam that we’ve seen before but we considered returning to one place we remember fondly: Mui Ne. However, last time we were there it was low season, and mostly deserted. The idea of a packed beach and unavailable rooms wasn’t really attractive to us and we kept hearing mixed reviews about how busy it actually was. Some people were telling us it was pretty much dead. Other people told us it was overrun with Russian tourists. Our other option was Dalat, a cooler area in the mountains and an old hill station to the French. Kitschy and a popular Vietnamese honeymoon spot, it still sounded interesting but eight hours away by bus with some windy stretches of sketchy mountainous road? We weren’t sure if we were up for that either.
This debate has been torturing us over the past couple of days. Why is sometimes making even the simplest of decisions so hard for us on this trip? We were making way to big of a deal out of the simplest things! Some days I get so annoyed with making decisions all day long and I realize that home life gets boring sometimes because there are not that many decisions to make in each day. Breakfast is usually the same, route to work, workload, dinner routine, same same same. So instead I know I should embrace the choices that we decided to embark upon, by choice, because of lack of choices and decisions back home! I seriously must drive some of my readers crazy with these trips down my meandering psyche. Lordy, I annoy myself most of the time. I really do actually appreciate “options”. Honestly, when I write this and think of it, I am very grateful. But it’s just tiring sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if our willingness or desire to slow things down on this trip, spend more time in fewer places, is also related to the idea that we will making bigger choices soon enough regarding what to do after our trip and maybe we just don’t want to think so hard right now about the little things because we always have big things niggling at our brains.
But that doesn’t mean we are not exploring! Spending more time in each place really gives us a better chance to go beyond the tourist sites and see a city. We’re walking a lot here, yes, we escape into a mall every so often for a blast of air conditioning but we’ve also explored Ho Chi Minh a lot. Our guesthouse is good right now and a brother who lives in Seattle is visiting and we’ve been able to talk to him a bit about his displacement, his life in the US and coming back home. As a young guy he left Vietnam on a boat and tried to immigrate to Malaysia. With 208 people on his boat, only 100 or so survived. He told us that he recommends Dalat over Mui Ne because he doesn’t like the ocean which reminds him of this time, taking the boat to Malaysia. It was just a tiny boat and people had to stand with their heads looking up because they were packed so close together, they couldn’t breathe otherwise. When someone died, they threw them overboard and the bodies got caught in the wake which make them appear to follow the boat like ghosts.
When I think of this story and how we can’t decide if we want beach or mountains I feel like an idiot. At the end of the day we chose Dalat because we haven’t been there before. We will probably go the day after tomorrow. It’s a long bus ride that leaves early in the morning so it’s going to be rough but I think we’ll like it when we get there. I’m looking forward to the lake and seeing Crazy House which I heard about on Departures, the Canadian travel show.