I always wanted to travel when I was a kid. My aunt was single and did lots of world traveling, bringing us back goodies each time she went to France or Greece or Egypt or Mexico. It was thrilling to think about other places besides the small town where I spent my entire childhood. After I graduated high school, she and I had plans to go to London for a couple of weeks together. I had nearly a thousand dollars saved up when a “friend” stole my bank card and all my money. It would be the closest I came to traveling for the next 18 years.
Then in 2005, I met a fellow who, only weeks after we met, decided to move to Vietnam. We dated that summer and I wanted to follow him, but he’d already moved on.
So in late 2006, we went on our own. We sold everything we could, packed the rest away and headed to central Vietnam. We spent two months volunteering at orphanages in Tam Ky before moving north to Hanoi for a month. After nearly having to leave, I ended up finding a job and we were able to stay for another three months in Thanh Hoa where I taught English as a Foreign Language at the university.
Never had I thought it would have been possible, but somehow we made it happen. Spending all that time in Vietnam changed me dramatically and when they asked me to return for the summer term two years later, I jumped at the chance.
My son’s friend Z. joined us for a month and we traveled throughout Vietnam before sending him home. We took the long route back to the States via Thailand and Malaysia.
All in all, we’ve now stepped foot in nine countries: Canada, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong (yes, technically it’s part of China, but still…) and of course, the United States of America.
I may be sending the boy off to SE Asia next year. I’m hoping for a trip to the southern quarter of North America before too long. We did our first road trip to Los Angeles this year. I went camping several times with The GuyFriend in eastern Oregon and at the beach, then the two of us visited Seattle on a spur-of-the-moment, goodbye-summer weekend.
I like going places.
Just before leaving Thanh Hoa in 2009, I had my palm read by a fellow teacher; she’d been studying for a while and wanted to see what the white lady’s hand would show. She held my hand gently, tracing her fingers down the creases and smiled. “You will travel a lot. It’s very good for you.” She was so right–it does my soul good. And it thrills me to get to share that with my kids.