Unanchor Blog: Heart of a Local Travel
Real talk here, not all travel is lovely. The last couple of weeks have been incredible but I have to admit, fatigue is setting. Sometimes places smell. The smell of sewage and rotting trash permeates your nose and becomes the norm. The sight of begging kids becomes too much. Guilt matched with sympathy immediately takes hold.
As lunch ensued the boat started its journey into the bay. As we dined, limestone islands passed by the windows. Each one awed me more than the last. I was surprised by the lack of birds. Frankly, Vietnam lacked birds altogether which was odd, but I wasn’t sad about it either. I was surprised and delighted all in one to see that lunch was dominated by Vietnamese cuisine. I was also surprised by how good it was. After dining, we changed into our suits and settled in for the rest of the ride. We drank beer and watched as the sun danced off the water and along the islands. I took so many photos as each island was more and more beautiful.
Whew, just returned from 3 days of motorcycling through the Mai Chau area of Vietnam, which was extraordinary. In some ways, the most incredible thing is that we exited the experience (mostly) unscathed. There were a couple of near-misses, but we both ended up with our bodies intact. This may sound like the expected outcome, and I suppose in some ways it is, but having just come through it, I can assure you it’s not the only outcome on the plinko board.
Whelp, we’ve finally got the next couple weeks lined up and booked. It’s been a fast and furious pace figuring out where to go, what to do, how much to spend, what to cut, etc. We have roughly 9 weeks in SE Asia, and while that may sound like a ton of time, it all goes very quickly. So, in a nutshell, here’s the next 10 days or so...
Real talk. The bus is intimidating. How to read the schedule, determine the fair, not look awkward AF in general, you name it. Now add in a foreign language barrier. I did my research. Read the ‘schedule,’ determined the fair and headed out on my own.
Travel is a funny thing. I am sitting here, our last morning in Nouméa, at the Babar Cafe while ‘The Greatest Love of All,’ plays in the background. Yep, that Babar. The cute and curious elephant from French children’s books. The ocean quiet in front of me as it too wakes up for the day. I may be in New Caledonia, a place I learned about roughly 3 months ago but it feels oddly familiar. That is until I am brought back to reality when the server asks me what I want in mumbled French.
When we quit our jobs in 2007 to travel for a couple years, it was fairly simple. Sell the cars, put a few boxes in a friend’s basement, and away we went. Fast forward 15 years to 2022 and that’s just not the case. There’s a career, a dog, a house, a mortgage, insurance, and a perspective benefitting from a decade and a half of additional experience. So while the end result was the same, the path to get there was much different.
Waking up this morning I have a smile on my face. Last night was one of those nights that I revel in when traveling. Maybe it was the wine gods at work. The connection, the conversation, the merging of cultures, even the language barriers.
A quick 1.5hr flight from Tahiti and the crystal clear blue waters of Fakarava came into view. Reefs popping in and out of the water as we passed over the lagoon. We were greeted by the tiniest of airports.