When talking with other travelers during my trip, they were most interested in whether I was travelling solo or with someone else. (It was a great relief from DC, where all anyone cares about is who I know.) Most people I would meet at hostels travelled in pairs. It was rare to find anyone travelling with more than one other person. Unsurprisingly, most of the people in the couple of hotels and resorts I stayed at were travelling with partners.
Certainly, there were other solo travelers I came across during my trip. Most of the other travelers I met through couchsurfing experiences were traveling alone. I guess, in the absence of a social partner, we solo travelers go out of our way to meet locals that can be temporary travel partners, along with experts.
24 October thru 4:57 am
There were only two other people staying the dorm room at Quan’s house, one girl and one guy. They were awake, but watching movies on their respective notebook computers. I did not talk to them that night, but I would learn the next day that the girl was Ukrainian. She had hitchhiked from Kiev to Ho Chi Minh City (avoiding Russia for geopolitical reasons) and was trying to find a job teaching English in the suburbs. She was gorgeous. The next day when I spoke with her, I think she made an effort to sound as unattractive to me as possible: She smoked; had a busted leg; refused to eat meat, dairy, or grain; did not drink; had an unhealthy dislike of Russians; and thought that 9/11 was an inside job.
The guy, I would learn, was Russian. He would play pick up basketball with locals in the city the next morning.
I wished Duy goodbye before he went to work. I would be gone before he returned from work. After some back and forth texting with Phuong, I arranged my schedule to meet her at 3 in the afternoon. I departed Duy’s apartment around noon. As I did, the lunchtime rush to afternoon classes at the University of Economics was in full swing. I had to wait in line to get a banh mi sandwich from a street vendor.
Duy’s place is not the best located place. It is in the city, but whether I wanted to go to the beach or downtown, I would need to either grab a taxi or walk for 30 minutes. I chose to walk, because, at this point, the sun was shining and I thought it would be cool to cross the Han River on foot. While I was in the center of the bridge, I attempted to take a photo of the dragon bridge. Remember, I warned you that I was a terrible photographer.
When I woke up, Lulu was staring at me. When she noticed I had awakened, she turned her head to the Peruvian-German, who was getting dressed for her morning departure from the guesthouse. Lulu looked sad. After a few minutes, Lulu found a small rug in the dorm room and peed on it.
Lulu is the guesthouse dog at Sac Lo.
In a repeat of the previous morning, Kalaya woke up late and was in a rush. She said goodbye to me in the guest bedroom and we hugged. I had given her a Washington DC shot glass as a gift the previous night.
There was much I wanted to talk to her about, but her rush, reminding me of so much of my own typical morning routine when at home, did not allow the time. So, I wrote it in couchsurfing.org’s messaging system.
Really, it is better that way. I’m far more thorough when writing than I am when discussing things in person. First, I thanked her for opening her home to me and apologized for the phone situation that did not allow us to connect on Sunday. Then, I moved onto the meat.
13 October, 6pm through midnight
There was a pattern I observed in my romantic misses during my high school and college years. Typically, I would become close with a girl, developing genuine friendship and respect, while she had a boyfriend. Sometimes I would make my feelings clear, sometimes I would not; it really did not make a difference. Eventually, the girl would begin talking to me about her boyfriend’s personal inadequacies. I could tell that she was comparing the guy directly to me and finding faults in the companion. (Usually, the problem was that the guy was dumb as bricks.) Shortly after expressing these concerns to me, she would break up with her boyfriend.
I learned survival, taught myself not to care. I was my single, good companion taking my comfort there.
Again, no hangover! It must be the Bangkok heat, somehow worse than all the warnings and absolutely unbearable at midday. I woke up again around 7. It has become a habit on this trip to wake up between 6 and 7 naturally. I wish I had this sleep schedule when in Washington; it would make getting up for work much easier.
The living room of Kalaya’s place is decorated with European flags. Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland are all represented prominently.