Essentially, I threw a dart at a map and it landed on Vietnam. I had seen this photograph of a man on a motorbike with a shark on the back and decided that I should probably see that before I die.
Really, I was at a bar, discussing with the classmate my roommate where I should go. I had really wanted to go back to France, to the Loire Valley, which is not far from Paris, where I had studied at the Sorbonne, and which makes my favorite wine. But the job in France did not promise a bountiful paycheck so paying my undeferrable private loans would have been next to impossible. So I thought about South Korea but it really is not that appealing, possibly because of its connection to an ex-boyfriend (who was adopted) and because it is so ON the beaten path for English-speakers. Seriously, everyone goes to Korea. The money is great and they pay for your apartment, medical care and flight.
Back to the bar. This acquaintance had lived in in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, for two years. “You should go to Vietnam,” he said. “Vietnam is awesome. And you could speak some French if you live in the north.”
I hesitated. “Are there cockroaches? I had to sit between the pet Madagascar hissing roaches and the Jehovah’s Witness in fifth grade. I haven’t gotten over it.”
“If you’re on the street looking for them at night, you’ll see them, but why would you be looking for them?” He asked.
I promise I wouldn’t jump off a bridge as readily as I’ll go someplace just because someone tells me it’s cool; I love travel, hate water. I could have continued planning trips and trying to figure out where I wanted to go but I thought the spontaneity of packing up and leaving would be more fun.
So, Vietnam. Friends’ reactions ranged from, “Oh. Cool. When are you leaving?” to the joking, “Were you drafted!?” to my best friend’s mother’s scandalized, “Why would she do that? And what do her parents think?”
For the record, no, I was not drafted. And my parents sent one child to learn Arabic in Jordan when she was sixteen so they don’t much care what I do. Actually, they’re pretty excited. I wonder if I can trick my father into eating snake if he’s visiting…
I’ll be leaving on Friday, July 1, very early in the morning. I’ll fly through San Francisco, then to Seoul (twelve hours across the Pacific Ocean) and then to Hanoi. The voyage takes roughly 26 hours. Hence the Kindle, the book of New York Times crossword puzzles, grad school application materials to edit, a journal, earplugs and an eye mask to keep me busy.
I’ll write again once I’ve arrived in Vietnam. In the meantime, I leave you with the sounds of adventure: