“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
Just over two weeks: that’s how long I’ve been home, and that means it’s time for the post-travel blues to slink out of my body. Some people get homesick when they are traveling, but I am just the opposite; I would rather be traveling than home. It’s not that I don’t like home, it’s just that I love the freedom and adventure travel brings, it’s much more exciting than everyday life. I long for the place that I traveled to almost immediately after I arrive at the airport. Usually after a few days with friends and family, and after heading back to work, I reluctantly assimilate back to my normal life; my travels slowly become a memory. But this time, I’m having a more difficult time, I think about Vietnam every day, and my heart aches to be there.
Vietnam: a place that, initially, made me feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and unhappy. A place that overwhelmed me and took me completely out of my comfort zone. A place that was overcrowded with people, along with smells and sounds that overtook my senses. A place where the signs were in a language unfamiliar. A place where the lifestyle was different than anything I’d ever previously experienced.
And now that I am home, I miss it more than I ever thought I would, or could for that matter. I don’t know what happened, but the country completely took hold of me and refused to let go. I miss the people in the markets, who after trying to sell you their products, actually want to get to know about you and your life. I miss the constant beeping and motorbikes zipping past as you attempt to cross the street. I miss the plastic table and chair cafes that pop up on street corners. I miss the smells that hit you as you walk by a street, or down an aisle in the market. I miss the bus rides with Vietnamese television blaring and friendly fellow passengers offering to share the food they brought with them. I miss the smiles and waves of the children passing on motorbike. I even miss getting harassed to hop on a motorbike or cyclo for a ride, or to buy cigarettes, books, and sunglasses. I miss the culture and the people, but mostly, how different it is compared to where I currently am.
I went into the trip, believing that I would revisit Thailand, but not Vietnam, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every day I think about Vietnam, and when I’ll be able to return. Breaking out of your comfort zone is not an easy thing to do, and during my time in Vietnam, I’ve never felt more sick, uncomfortable, dirty, on edge, or anxious in my life. But, the people that I met and experiences that I had in this country outweighed all of those. It is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people; people who have changed my life forever.