Saturday 11 April 2015

Why does it always rain on me?

Well it doesn't actually, for the last three weeks I've not seen a spot of rain, only blistering heat and humidity. But as the train from Nha Trang passed into Hoi An and onto Da Nang, the heavens opened in a manner I've rarely seen before. Rain, sheeting, sheeting rain. And this isn't even the rainy season. The pac a macs we were beginning to wonder if we should even bother bringing we're suddenly worth their weight in gold. My partner got himself an ex army one that made him look rather dignified, like an outdoorsy hero from a novel about hobbits and elves, but I looked a bit more, well, hmm. You see mine is pug poncho which is awesome and does the job but also had the effect of making me look like a naughty child from a Roald Dahl novel who was receiving their ironic punishment. Especially as I had all the camera equipment and bags hidden under it, I looked like you could just roll me down a hill. Weirdly though, as absurd as I looked, the bizarreness of the situation actually broke what was beginning to become a bit of a downer for me.

After the less than awesome experiences in the last place, homesickness had set in a bit and I managed to leave behind my make up bag. Maybe that sounds hella shallow, but it really upset me. Of all the things we could have left behind it was the least important, least essential, and I haven't been wearing make up so far mainly cos my face has been pouring with sweat anyway, but it was nice to have the option. Between that, the humidity that makes any attempt at hairstyling a lost cause, and a recent weight loss which on paper may seem like a good thing, but I don't know how I feel about that either... Overall,  I just felt a bit powerless. Yes I know I can buy more but I bought all of that especially for travelling and I never normally treat myself with stuff like that and to be fair, I think that made it inevitable that I would lose it! My self pity hit overdrive and I could feel myself winding up ready to throw my toys out of the pram big style... And then it started raining. Then I looked like an idiot, and the Vietnamese laughed at me everywhere I went and I got over myself.

Da Nang is not like it was in Nha Trang, it's built up, it's a city, but it feels like a city built completely on it's own terms, it's not there to placate any other culture but their own, and it was nice to see. It's alien in the right sort of way.

For the first couple of days it rained constantly but this didn't make much of a difference to our plans and we wondered around in the same manner we would do normally. Also, warm rain, that's something i've never experienced before! We ended up aiming for a vegan restaurant which is really not like either of us but I'll give anything a go once, except for frog apparently. Anywho, I ordered the sweet and sour soup and my partner ordered pho bo except without the bo (bo means beef if you were wondering) Although the food took forty minutes to arrive, it was the most considered and beautifully presented bowl of food I've ever eaten. It was nice but I learned that I'm not a fan of tofu, as it turns out. To go with I had lemon juice, which turned out to be a massive mistake because the establishment as well as being anti-meat and anti-plastic was also anti-sugar. Not anti-MSG though, I saw two dessert spoons of that going into my soup, but sugar, that's clearly the seasoning of the devil.

After washing down my bitter lemon water with only a few involuntary winces, we headed to Da Nang Souvenir shop that sold, well, you know. What I found again here was another display of artwork and counter culture images that we've found in a few of the more trendy outlets across Vietnam. They are super self aware and ironic when it comes to their own cultural traits, more so than I think we are of our own cultural traits in the UK. Gently mocking of their driving and road safety, which is terrifying by the way. I've nearly been hit by a moped more times than I can count in the last month. Mocking of their approach to food, and electricity (basically if you want an electricity supply you hitch your wires up to the nearest pylon yourself, creating these towers of crazy looking death wires) They are not derogatory of their culture, just very knowing about it, and that sort of self awareness really amuses me. Yes, I bought lots of souvenirs there :)

On a personal level, and I think this ties in with my current anxiety over the way I look and my lack of control over certain aspects of my life at the moment...My words sort of don't feel like mine anymore. I'm beholden to different priorities, different experiences and situations and I don't feel much consistency in who I am right now. I'm changing. I feel mid-transition. The only thing that doesn't change, no matter where I am, is how I feel about the people I love. Those feelings if anything have just become more focused, as though lack being able to hear them, see them, has made how I feel about them more apparent than ever before. No distractions or other priorities to make me think otherwise. I dream about the people I love, and it's hard waking up and knowing that it wasn't just yesterday that I saw them.

Time moves differently in this place too. I'm not just talking about the time difference, but I mean my perception of time. Back home feels like months ago. I wonder whether it feels like that to other people, or whether it seems like five minutes ago? Or whether they even think about it at all. Still, having these experiences at least distracts me from that, and I think that's part of travelling to be honest, the cost is always there but so is the reward.

Things I was unsure of back home, have now come into a sharp focus here. I better understand who I am and how I feel about things. This doesn't magically mean that everything is how it should be and that I have everything I want, far from it, but I now at least understand how I feel about those things, something I don't think could have happened without coming here.

Onto Hanoi next, via plane which will make a change. We haven't been on a a plane since we first arrived in Vietnam. We've been travelling by train, which is fine, but it's thirteen hours by train from Da Nang to Hanoi and given that the plane is cheaper than the train and takes only an hour, we thought we'd give it a go.

So now it's time to get shouted at by airport staff to take my Doc Martins off and get overcharged for some sub par

coffee, just as with all airports. Who knows what the next place will bring? Vietnam has managed to subvert any expectations I have had so far, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better, but I don't know if I would have taken anyone's opinion on any place for granted without seeing it for myself. I guess that's the only way you can get to know anywhere really.

Tạm Biệt for now dudes!

Btw, the picture that goes with this blog is a sketch drawn by my partner. To see more of his artwork, check out his website at 


  1. Another veritable feast of information. I love these instalments of your journey: you're doing a brilliant job of invoking your adventures faithfully, truthfully and with some really interesting points of view and things to think about.

    My take on your question about fluctuates. Sometimes it seems like ages since you went: especially when I reflect on all the photographs and snippets of information I see often on FB and then your longer blog pieces which I am relishing and settle down to read several times with a good cup of coffee, but then it also seems like only a few days when life gets busy with work and all that and all of a sudden a week has passed not only for me but for you and him over there!
    Love you xx

  2. Hey Sam,
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement :) I'm trying to be as honest as possible, and trying to get a balance of the good things and the less than awesome things, which you'll see when I post my next one about Hanoi!
    I'm glad that you're enjoying reading them, gives me a reason to keep writing them!
    Hope you're good and well, take care & lots of love xxxx