A one-way ticket to Vietnam. A trip so far where I am both a backpacker and an “expat” – where I make friends with the people – both foreign and local – who live in a place rather than just take photos of it. Frankly, I prefer the term “migrant worker”. That’s what we are all doing. Just wandering and working where it fits. I meet people from all around the world doing this.
We aren’t expats. There’s no fancy flights and fancy terms and conditions behind it. It’s a migration pattern that’s happening.
I travel slow and have little plans. Some days I drink no coffee and others, lots. (I’m going on approximately 48 hours without coffee and I think I’m about to break that within the hour or so). I wander around cities trying to find good vegetarian food, hunt for that perfect little corner café to write in and end up walking along a riverside street or a park and thinking about the past. Where to next? Where am I now? Sometimes, I have no idea.
Literally. Some mornings last month, during my first few weeks in Vietnam, I found myself waking up and having no idea where I was. “Oh ya, Vietnam”, I’d reassure myself. I can’t count how many different hostel beds I’ve slept on this past year. With their white sheets, clean smell and my shea butter soap bar on the shelf next to my phone and charger all the rooms and most of the dorm beds become one-in-the-same. But then I’d make my way up to the rooftop for a coffee and breakfast, look at the Saigon skyline and hear the motorbikes below and it would be confirmed that in fact, I was in Vietnam.
I worked in co-working spaces to try and get the sense that I was a “digital nomad”. I stayed longer than planned in hostels if I wasn’t finished taking notes and exploring the city.
“Oh, you’re one of those ‘digital nomads’?” Some people will ask.
Frankly, I don’t think they are genuinely asking as they are more TELLING me what I am.
I started this lifestyle so (mostly men) wouldn’t end up telling me what to do or who I am but just like that, I’m right back at square one.
Right now I’m in Danang when I should be somewhere near Hanoi. Those two cities are pretty far away from each other. Like hundreds and maybe thousands of kilometres. It’s taken me much longer to head north because (and not many people share this fun fact), traveling is hard.
If you do it right – traveling is hard work and it takes all of your energy and changes some of your insides. Your soul. Your mind.
While chatting with people around or at my hostel, I get the inevitable question, “How long have you been traveling for?” When on the road, this question comes first before “What’s your name?”
It’s always “Where are you from?” and “How long have you been traveling for?” followed by “What’s been your favourite country so far?” When people ask that third question I’m sometimes a little skeptical. I can’t choose favourites. It’s cheating.
With all the edits I’ve been doing myself for Arrival Stories, my first book, I’ve become more of a grammar nerd. I catch myself double-checking every second word I write, making sure it’s correct. Google: “Travelling vs traveling”. “Email vs e-mail”. Tips about how to avoid run-on sentences muttered from my 8th grade English teacher echo in my brain as I stress to get everything perfect.
I have to decide between “travelling” and “traveling”. Am I a traveller or a traveler?
I realized I have a lot of edits to do for this blog. I also realized I’ve been writing in a mix of British and American English this entire time. I think this makes sense, because I rarely live in Canada (which uses British English generally but sometimes we use both) and I interact with people from different corners of the world almost everyday. I also come from a city that uses their own (and much adored) hybrid language of “Franglais”. So I really don’t know what’s what. But for SEO purposes, apparently I should.
Any advice? Am I a traveller or traveler?
After over an hour of research on different websites and message boards about writing style for content on a blog, I scrolled down my original search page and I read one of the definitions under the explanation of travelling vs traveling: “This word means to journey.”
I think that’s enough for me.
I’m not sure what pictures can fit for a post like this, so here are some from my six weeks in Mexico last summer. Ten days in Mexico City followed by Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, and Sayulita for a month. I traveled around by bus. The buses in Mexico were cheap, clean and safe. I stuck to the middle of the country and the Pacific coast so getting around by land transportation was fairly simple. It’s common to fly out to the cities and towns on the eastern side of Mexico, like Tulum and Oaxaca.
I have to say I ate (and drank) pretty well in Mexico. Take me back to where the tequila flows, please?
|#AcaiBowl @Organic-K San Pancho, near Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico|
|Art at Alquimista Cafe, Sayulita. This was my hiding place.|
|Turtle Beach in Sayulita. This little section of the beach is protected for all the turtle hatchlings.|
|Perfect latte at Cafe Cultura in historical Puebla, Mexico|
|Street Art in La Roma, CDMX|
|Vegan Taco Stand in La Roma, CDMX|