I am an investor in the ephemeral, that which could be gone tomorrow. This could be deemed true of everyone, but I feel arguably more conscious of the inevitable with the existence of my outbound flight. This ticket away from a nest makes me anxious, makes me analyze my underlying emotions, makes me draw connections to patterns, and makes me look at how those few constants affect me. The moon signifies change; it moves me away from an even keel of emotion and routine.Read More
After the Berlin trimester ended, I flew to Copenhagen to begin a wee Scandinavian tour. The best part of this week was being with friendly residents and visiting their homes. Yes, homes. Not houses, accommodations, hotels, hostels, or dorms. In both Copenhagen and Stockholm, I stayed in city homes and then visited vacation homes by the water. Both cities are impressive and relatively unknown to me, but I valued most those moments where I was experiencing someone's place of hat-hanging. Rarely did I want to venture away.
Landsort is a village on the island of Öja an hour south of Stockholm. It marks the southernmost point of the Stockholm archipelago. My new friend Kari took fellow TGS co-worker Andy and his two friends to his vacation home on the island of Öja by way of a flat-bottomed boat. The sky was gray and occasionally spitting, but we enjoyed some walks along the central road (rarely a motor in sight) and up by the lighthouse that gives the village its name.
To see more travel photography, view my Flickr collections.
Blues and smog and a golden quarter sink Toward the smell of sewage and marine life amidst hopes of notoriety and fame The cobalt supports a sea of turquoise with dreams As lofty as their shoulder pads But what professions result from a demand from salt and pepper Are those that justify radical dreams of nomadic existences Cargo and sailers and whales blowing exclamations I see the entire sky tinted with the brown Of us, the creation of our products and needs From which we all escape for a moment of starboard sliding These currents cannot budge our dreams for which we overpaid But did we? In another time this may be so However the disappointment of commerce leads people like Myself to revel in the luxuries of the older I am among the wine-sipping, cigar-pulling, tequila-thirsty cougars and leather skins We're all out to experience something odyssey-esque Getting in touch with the 70% we know nothing about Shivering in the surprising chill of the world's wind Taking part in the pleasure of the extravagance
Catalina had golf carts and primary colors and jagged-toothed ferns From my most recent memories, and not the best ones at that Where I retched on the catamaran and cringed at neighbor's declarations And time again lapses to bring the cobalt to my retinas In a more succulent way, this time Where I can utilize every plane of reflected light from the tainted sunset Something makes me believe the homogenous quilt before me Is interrupted by body masses wider than cars And more magnificent than than combined human will can summon.
I left off last in my adventures listening to Led Zeppelin with one headphone in my left and the other in the right of the toothless old man next to me (read the lead-up to this story in Flashbacks of Nam). After convincing all the men on board that my iPod was not for sale, the guy hanging out the window, picking up hitchhikers, motioned for me to run up and jump out of the moving bus. I stood at a T in the road, my backpack in tow, with a cloud of dust blowing up from around my feet. My new bus friends pointed in one direction as they sped off into the hills, and I started my trek down a long dreary street.
An hour later, I found a little beach town, met a man who owned a hotel and scheduled a bay trip for the following night. A little wandering got me a long way in this town. I found some excellent vegetable dishes at a seaside restaurant, a fantastic night market, and wandered a smelly yet scenic beach in beautiful solitude. I let sleep come peacefully to me that night, since the questionable stains on the wall could have kept my mind racing all night.
I awoke early to take in the morning activity only to fall asleep on a beach chair on the next day. After some errand running, I hopped on another motorbike to the waterfront where I boarded a three story wooden boat in the most chaotic and destructive marina environment I've ever seen. Vietnamese boat captains believe bumper boats don't just exist in the amusement parks.
Floating alongside the humongous grottoes that rocketed out of the teal waters was a sight my camera couldn't capture accurately. The hazy day created an eerie tone for our afternoon cruise, and the visit to a monstrous and dramatically lit cave only amped up the mystery evoked by this natural wonder. Young girls from a nearby floating fishing village came by offering different fruits insistently, and I had to partake in eating the swirling pineapples I had seen by the roadside stands.
Our captains and "guides" appeared to be bilingual, but they definitely took advantage of the language barrier and left the majority of us extremely confused with the facts of our situation. Apparently, there was a government problem, and everyone could not stay on the ship as they paid to do. Everyone piled off the ship at a nearby island to stay in a hotel, but at the last second, the captain grabbed my arm and told me to stay on the boat. I sat with my backpack strapped on, alone on a pirate ship, watching my new friends walk away and became terrified for my own safety.
Eventually a whole new group filed on and the night proceeded as it was intended to. Hours of talking to experienced travelers and listening to conversations in German later, I fell asleep on the rocking boat, a task at which I am very skilled; however, one thing I am not accustomed to is hearing the rustling, pattering, and squeaking of little mice under me. This fun encounter led me to steal a seat cushion from the dining floor and sleep with the limestone islands outside.
The rest of the day centered around introspection...floating through the grottoes with a soft breeze, riding in a bus back to Hanoi, a dinner of crackers and soy milk in a nearby city park, and a flight across a country that would leave me mystified for years to come. I was ready to leap back to the ship and prepare for one last day of sight-seeing and inexpensive shopping sprees. And that I did, but not without more crazy episodes of crazy motorbike rides, yelling at scamming taxi drivers, and deep-fried scorpion antics in the cabin…thanks to a one Miss Alexis Reller. She truly made my worst nightmares come true.
I parted Vietnam with a smile, knowing this beautiful country witnessed my first true instance of lone traveling in the Third World, and luckily it was a success.
What do you think about my first solo female trip? Was Ha Long Bay more beautiful than you imagined? Comment below!