Chillaxin’ on Cat Ba

In this case, the journey was not the destination, I am happy to report. That horrid day seems long ago now and I’m pleased that it’s so.

I returned to Cat Ba island a few days ago from a 2-day boat trip on Halong Bay – easy, relaxing time hanging on the boat deck, chatting with the other travelers, British and Danish, kayaking, and absorbing myself in the incredible beauty of the place – now I understand how it is that Halong Bay is on everyone’s itinerary – truly, it’s an awesomely stunning place and I’m glad I made the effort to come here.

Yesterday I took an easy morning around town and spent the afternoon on a motorbike, driving around the gorgeous landscape of the island – it’s incredibly beautiful nature here and ohyes, peaceful and quiet (outside of town)!

Now I’m in my very spacious and comfy room overlooking the harbor – for $2 more, I treated myself to the harbor view room – at $10 a night, I think it was the right decision!

It looks like a cloudy day, but if it clears up, I’m heading straight to the nearby fancy resort with its warm, beach side pool and spa, with nothing else on my agenda except to catch up on some reading. If the clouds stick around, well then, it’s another slow day focused mostly on writing – either way, it’s a fine day in store!

I realized the other day that the trip has passed its half way point – and of course, as is the human condition (or at least this human’s condition!), my feelings are mixed. A big part of me is totally thrilled to be out here, moving through my days with ease and a deep sense of peacefulness, even when the challenges show up. I love figuring out how to cope with those challenges, processing them, and learning to take care of myself lovingly and compassionately. Any more practice in those departments is always welcome!

I love being exposed to new ways of life and different ways of moving through the world. The very simple ways that I connect with local people, mostly through unspoken language and generous smiles, delights me. And I delight in being delighted with those simple human connections.

I love that I feel safe and virtually worry-free. Nothing (save for that Haiphong experience which is already fading) has felt dangerous or scary and that means a lot out here on my own.

I feel appreciative of the ways that I am called to pay attention, to be awake and present as I move through my days. There’s no going on auto pilot out here – everything requires my full engagement and I’m deeply grateful for the way that keeps me focused. It’s like every day is a yoga, a commitment to stretch and grow and learn. And so I either do or I become rigid and tight – the choice is clear and while I won’t always choose the ‘right’ way, I will certainly always learn from whatever direction I go!

Finding my way in such foreign cultures, creating a sense of belonging and home makes me grateful. I am comforted by the beauty of nature and the kindness of strangers that I determinedly find everywhere – anyone who thinks the world, in all its harshness and cruelty, is not a profoundly wondrous place, is not paying attention.

I love the sense of freedom that comes with doing whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want to do it. And I love figuring out all the logistics, details and minutiae that makes it all happen – there’s a lot to it, believe me, and I’m thrilled that I have the patience, tenacity and attention to detail to bring it all together. That requires listening to my heart and intuition; and I’m so thankful that I get to continue to practice that!

Oh yeah, and I lovelovelove that I’m writing! It’s been waaaaay too long that I’ve written so regularly and that it’s the truth now means so very much to me! Having the time and space in which to do it feels luxurious!

Oh, and being unemployed – yippeeeee! Not one single regret has reared its head in this department – it was so time for me to be done with that job and that workplace – a decision that took awhile to manifest, but so very right, so very right.

Sounds great, so far, eh?

Well, as I was writing, I realized that some of the very same things that I love are the very ones that also challenge me the most out here (everywhere?! – surprise, surprise!).

Mostly, it’s the part about finding my way and all that it takes to make that happen. It’s all those logistic and details and planning and figuring out how the hell I’m gonna get from here to there to the other place and where I’m gonna lay my body down when I do. It’s tiring, sometimes difficult, occasionally confounding. I don’t remember getting so weary with all that in the past, but it’s definitely wearing me out at times here. Yesterday I thought that I need a vacation! And yet, I also look forward to the destinations to come – returning to low-key, laid back Laos and exploring new places in northern Thailand.

Sometimes I’m lonely. Really lonely. I know about being alone and I’ve come to so appreciate my solitude and my own company – the last many years have been vital for me in that process and they’ve given me a sense of deeper self-reliance than I’ve ever known. But still, loneliness sometimes runs deep out here, too. I miss the the comfort of being known and seen.

I miss the company of intimate friends. I miss physical touch and affection. I miss laughing as much as I do when I’m with my silly friends. Oh, and I miss chocolate!

I’ve even missed ‘home’ more than I expected, although simultaneously, I wonder about returning to Puna and what life will be like there – is it really ‘home’? Is there somewhere else for me to be? When I’ve had the rare thought that I’d like to leave and go home, in the next breath, the thought came, “yeah and then what there?” And the process passes. But still I wonder about what’s to come when this trip is pau – I’m thrilled that I’ll get to be in the Bay Area for awhile and wonder how being there will affect me. I wonder about lots of things!

I miss singing! Ohsure, I can sing by myself out here (no, I won’t sing in the local karaoke bars – singing in Vietnamese is way beyond me!), but for me, the joy of singing is not only learning and practicing, it’s about singing with others, Singing with Courage; and it’s become a bigger part of my life than I could have ever imagined – and it has no outlet out here – so that’s a hole that I feel deeply.

That’s how it goes out here – just another day of wandering the world and being present to it all!

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