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Unexpected Epiphany

HOI AN, VIETNAM – A delicious breakfast at Thu’s, some grafitti (I wrote “Love me Thu times baby! – Karsoe, Sydney Australia 28-12-04”) and I then hopped on a bus for the trip to the seaside town of Hoi An.

This town is renowned for it’s tailors, and there are a lot of them, all willing to run up a suit for not a great deal of money. I’d like to grab one, except I’ve still got a while to go on my trip.

I tried to have some peaceful beach time today. The weather was not amazing, it rained quite a bit last night. I figured that the tourists would stay away from the beach, and that it would give me a good chance to get down there and have some time on my own.

I was right, there were very few tourists. There were, however, many many people selling handcrafts, drinks, snacks, cigarettes, massages. And they were very insistent, as they have been everywhere here. I bought a few things but felt pissed off. What the hell do I have to do to get some quiet time on my own in this country?

I walked back without having said much to the ocean. I felt a bit of animosity towards the people, the mentality, just the whole thing was making me angry. All I wanted to do was go to Da Nang and hop on the next plane to Bangkok where the tuk-tuk drivers know what ‘no thank you’ actually means.

But as I walked back from the beach I started figuring things. I was staring down at my feet as I walked. My world was small. I could be walking past a magnificent temple, a beautiful river, a lovely woman, and I’d never have known. I didn’t care then, I wanted my world to be small because I felt angry that the Universe had conspired to deny me some quiet time.

The people who “hassle” you to buy, invite you into their shop, they’re not shop assist ante. Nor do they employ any. They aren’t wage earners. They don’t earn if they don’t sell, and they don’t eat if they don’t earn. And while this revelation didn’t inspire me to spend more, it did at least give me some perspective as to why they’re so insistent.

At that moment I heard a “Hello!” as my side. Another child, a little girl, a toddler really, who could already call out in English to a huge Western stranger without fear. She teetered towards me, smiling, waving, her slightly older brother stood nearer their house, also smiling but watching carefully. The girl shook my hand firmly, Westerner-style. Her mum watched from the house, happy to see her kids exploring their world.

As I continued back to town I began to wonder how I lost that sense of adventure, the desire to explore. How did I? Why did I? Why do we? Why is it that when our bodies get bigger, our minds get smaller?

I remember family picnics in Binya Hills near Griffith, me and the other kids would always go off ‘exploring’. That’s what we called it. We’d climb rocks, jump crevices, wade through creeks and climb trees, totally convinced that we were the first to do so since creation. We “claimed” everything we saw as ours but never too anything with us. And we shared it all. There was no ‘mine’ because it was all to big for one.

Early bus to Nha Trang tomorrow, I should be getting some sleep.

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