My girlfriend and I are Torontonians, she by birth, me by circumstance. Sometime in 2012, we both decided we needed a good long break, not just from the city, but from Canada in general. It’s not that we don’t love our country; we do, it’s the best country in the world to live in, in my occasionally humble opinion. But as I’m sure many of you understand, we were all too aware that there is much more to the world than the environment that we are typically situated in, that which we call home. There are hundreds, if not thousands of cultures and subcultures dotted, or splashed, all around the globe. So many of them fascinate me, even those that I only have a vague understanding or realization of. Different cultures intrigue me for different reasons. Some are so different from what I’m use to here in Canada. Others hold an ancestral element that compels me to research and immerse myself in to gain a better understanding of who I am and where my family comes from. The trip that Teresa and I decided to go on falls into the former category for me, and a bit of both for her. Teresa is Vietnamese by ethnicity and we initially decided on a two month trip to Southeast Asia, Vietnam included as one of the eleven possible choices in terms of nations to visit on this particular trip.
As we researched the region, that initial two month assumption grew. And grew. And grew. Maybe three months, maybe four and a half. We wound up gone for half a year, no small feat for some, maybe not nearly enough for others. It turned out to be both for us because it took a great deal of hard work and dedication to make it happen, and from the moment we got there we never wanted to leave. We were told by travelers and non-travelers alike that at some point, maybe around the 3-5 week point, we’d be homesick. Didn’t happen. Maybe an inkling here and there, and we certainly missed our family and friends. But goddamn, the second we touched down in Hong Kong, which was just a layover on the way to Bangkok by the way, we were hooked.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we left for the right reasons. We were more than ready to forgo the amenities, the cleanliness, and the privileges that we’d been used to getting our entire lives. For the most part, obviously. We still maintained a degree of standards; nests of insects living under a mattress were a big no-no for me. Although, I learned to live with small families of daddy long legs’ who hung out peacefully in the corners of the majority of guest houses we visited. I even harmlessly scooped one up in a plastic bag and released it into the streets of Luang Namtha, Laos when it became too much one evening (no smooshing them with my shoe, for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to kill any when I felt like it was me in their space). Yeah, I knew right away we left for the right reasons: we were simply ready for a change, not just in our surrounding environment, but a change within ourselves, one that I think was for the betterment of our individual selves, as well as the strength of our partnership. No regrets here.
I had my eyes set on the other side of the world. And all the while, my heart and my mind would still drift upward, beyond it all.
Always searching above for more