Hoi An is such a relaxed, laid back town where you can feel completely safe or at home walking around late without a worry. Shop merchants that you interact with and purchase from will remember your face and wave hello as you pass them by a couple of times. There are hundreds of tailors that are willing to make any outfit you show them or desire in addition to shoes. You can't escape them, everywhere you hear "come in, no need to buy...just look." Until one woman looked at me in the eyes and repeated, "come look around, please, help me" which just reeled me in unlike any other thing. I had a dress made and a top for the asking price of $25. There's this small guilt in me for buying anything I really do not need, so I tell myself that I am going to have a massive fall clean up of my closet and give away an article of clothing for every new one I purchase.
So I've just returned from a PowerYoga class held at L'apothiquaire in Saigon. Perhaps it's because I haven't taken an actual yoga class in more than two months or that I was in a great mood walking into the class and genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Or perhaps it's that there were a total of three of us in the class, the view was absolutely stunning, and the young instructor turned into one of my favorites. This class was wonderful despite the heat that made the studio seem like a bikram class (typically held in a studio of 105F). The $13 drop in rate included the use of showers, sauna, and steam room. Everything about it was so vastly different than any other class I've taken in Chicago and Miami. I'm going on and on about this , I know but bear with me I am almost through. My point: if you've never taken a yoga class, I strongly recommend it. You don't have to be Mr. or Mrs. flexible you just have to be willing to try something new.
Hue is the city where my dad was born and raised until he was around fourteen. The first day or two in Hue reminded me of the loneliness that accompanies a solo traveler. For a bit, you regret not looking hard enough for someone interested in hitting up parts of Asia. And then it isn't until you meet another fellow solo adventurer that you sit back and laugh at how pathetic and silly it feels having dinner in a restaurant for one when everyone around you has company. Traveling alone is work, but you have the liberty of choosing your own schedule, eating when you want to or not even eating at all if you so decide. Having dinner one evening with three other guys was a mission, they were not very good at choosing where to go so this is when I am glad that I have some sort of "restriction/special diet" that constantly requires explanation. It gets to be a drag, but you deal. It's pretty wonderful how immediately following this lonesome period I meet a shit ton of people from all over that are just fascinating to connect with. Most have been European and only two brilliant Americans, one of which works for a non profit in NY, we spoke Global Justice, trade, and activism. The other, a young woman with such a beautiful soul; she was truly an adventurer taking her gap yr between high school and college to travel.
Her name is Chiara and she's hit up South America (to learn spanish) for 2 months, Africa for 2 months, Asia for a month, and she's got her eye on India I believe after leaving China. I'd like to say that I would love to do something like that on my own, but deep down inside I might be too chickenshit. She talks to her parents once a week through e-mail, only placing a phone call once a month to them and can chat on and on without pausing if need be; definitly a curious creature. Not once had she felt "unsafe," mentioning how after a while you pick up that intuition of knowing when to get the hell out of a place. I also chatted a bit with a German in detail about life, I've noticed most people who have learned english as a second or third language use the word "quite" a lot, sometimes coupled with "nice" or "good" as well.
Anyhow, Hue has so much history it's got loads to offer. When my dad gets here in a couple of days we're to go back and visit family that we have there. I'm dozing off and need to be up in a couple of hours to catch a bus to Cambodia. It's home to supposedly the largest religious structure in the world *Angkor Wat. Not that I'm deeply religious or anything even though I must say each pagoda I have invaded has been moving, especially listening to the monks beautiful chanting.
Pictured: Chiara & I
Pictured: Chiara & I