This week at BootsnAll we’re talking about travel in Vietnam, and Thailand and reflecting on what travel teaches us, during and after a trip. Phil Anderson gives us a list of must-sees in Ho Chi Minh City, and Jenn Miller shares her thoughts on what we take home when we return from a trip, however long, as well as an off the beaten path experience with her family in Northern Thailand and finally her feelings about Jakarta, Indonesia, and discovering difficult truths about yourself through travel.
Read on to catch up on what you missed!
Don’t get overwhelmed by all there is to see in Ho Chi Minh City (the city formerly known as Saigon). Phil Anderson gives his best tips on what to see in the hectic Vietnamese metropolis.
“Chow in Cholon Cholon is the most hectic part of Saigon. Also known as Chinatown, Cholon is the economic heartbeat of the city where opium dens, prostitutes, and gambling once converged (although these days, Saigon’s Fifth District is a deeper shade of red). It’s a place to sup on soups in the street and soak up the lively atmosphere.”
It’s pretty normal to feel conflicted about going home and putting your travels on hold (however temporarily). Jenn Miller shares her thoughts on how we can keep that “travel magic” no matter how familiar our location.
“Of course, we all go back eventually, in the physical sense, to ‘home.’ Maybe we don’t go back to the place of our birth, or the place that we left, but eventually, virtually everyone stops moving forward, creates a stationary life, and builds everyday routines around that existence. Whether or not we actually go back to a version of how we lived before our big trip, or we use our return as an opportunity for progress and reinvention in light of things learned about ourselves and the world while we were traveling is another question entirely.”
In this off-the-beaten-path in Thailand tale, Jennifer Miller and her family happen upon the Thailand dreams are made of in the North, near the border with Burma.
“Having traded my spring mattress for a bamboo chair on the bamboo deck of my bamboo cottage, I’m sipping my first cup of tea and watching the morning mists snake into the blue sky from the forest canopy.
Men in cut-off shorts and sarongs, carefully wrapped and tucked into their belts walk behind water buffalo, thigh deep in the liquid silver of the rice paddies that hold back the tangle of everything beyond. Their beasts, inky black and languorous in their progress, carve long rows through the water, rippling reflections of liquid sky.”
Lessons from Jakarta
What does it mean when you can’t find anything to like about a place as big as Jakarta, Indonesia? Jenn Miller reflects on how finally finding a place she just couldn’t like gave her a deeper insight into her own shortcomings, and the motivation to work through them.
“Within 24 hours of arrival I wanted to claw my way out of the city. I felt trapped. My chest was tight. I had a massive headache. I wanted to scream at everyone. I wanted… no, I needed… to escape. My instinct was to hide, to burrow down into my hotel bed and not emerge until my flight was ready to leave. But of course the traveler in me wouldn’t let that happen, the mother and the educator in me wouldn’t let that happen. It was an opportunity: A chance to examine and replace my broad expectations with the nuanced realities.”