Always leaving… Until I arrive

Leaving Hanoi, cat ba, sa pa… Leaving the north.

And with those places, that each held elements of my ideal life, I am leaving so many friends. I have spent these past two weeks in the company of so many souls I’ve truly connected with, and these places that have arranged themselves to feel like my home. I miss these places and people. I miss them along with the many places and faces I’ve encountered and fallen for this year.

Hawaii sunset
Hawaii sunset

The surreal adventures, mind boggling conversations and the inspiration they’ve brought to me. I am, partly, what these people have brought out of me… I have been shown so many inspiring (and terrible) parts of myself.

Nepal sunset
Nepal sunset

Leaving friends behind rips me to pieces every time. I’ve shed tears for people I’ve known a month and people I’ve known a day. I’ve left towns, hostels and bus stations heaving as my heart felt like it was trying to escape my chest and run away with those new friends. It’s overwhelming and often in these times I struggle to remember the point of this type of travel. Gaining a lot and walking away, always leaving it behind…
But of course, that’s not true. It all becomes a part of me. I have a heart full of souvenirs, a soul full of stories, a mind full of lessons. I am lucky to know such love, from so many corners of the earth in so many forms, however short lived.

Croatia sunset
Croatia sunset

I have created lifestyles around the countries I’ve been in. Early mornings and crazy weekends in Kathmandu, paragliding and lake swims in Annecy, strolls and spaghetti in Rome, sun bathing, reading and relaxing in Greece, yoga, surfing, dancing and tagine in Morocco, river swims and hikes in sapa, sunsets and sunrises in cat ba, coffee and exploring in Hanoi.

Santorini sunset
Santorini sunset

And I love them all, I hold them all within me. How many will translate onto Australian soil?

Essaouira sunset
Essaouira sunset

With each day passing, every goodbye and sunset, I’m reminded of, and brought closer to, the end of my travels.
How crazy that now, after the severe home sickness I dealt with earlier in the year, the thought of home is… What makes me feel so uneasy.

Naples sunset
Naples sunset

I don’t know who I’ll be when I stop.

Australian sunset
Australian sunset

I suppose I just have to be excited to find out.

(And yes, I’m excited to see my family, friends, pet and beaches)

Cat Ba and chill

Cat ba island… Hammocks swaying gently in the breeze, pink sunrises, wandering down to the waters edge for a fire after dinner.

Day 1:

I arrived in the night, was shown my sleeping quarters for the night (a hammock on the balcony) and quickly invited to join in on a beach fire.

Day 2:

The sun woke me, it’s pinks and oranges dancing on my eyelids early in the morning. The first view I had on the bay, from my hammock at first light… I think I’m going to like this place.

Waking up to this...
Waking up to this…

A fruit salad later I’m in a van, then hopping on a boat. I met two girls the night before booking a day tour to Halong bay, lan ha bay and monkey island, I followed suit.

We are on the top deck on this boat, lazing around on cushions using the sun as our blanket. The water reflects the bright blue of the sky but is sprayed with glitter from the sun. The brilliance of these bays on a sunny day… The rock formations jutting out of the water, the greenery they hold. The legend is that

When the Vietnamese had to fight against invaders coming the Jade Emperor sent a dragon and her children to help. They attacked the enemies breathing fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds formed a defensive wall and eventually became the islands of Halong bay.

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One guy gets too drunk and falls overboard, no one else had even began drinking yet. We kayak (without the drunk guy) through caves and spot monkeys then dine on the boat. We jump of the boat and swim in water like a salty bath. Monkey island is, as you might guess, crawling with monkeys which kind of freak me out. I hike up to a view point and it’s magnificent.

View from monkey island
View from monkey island

Back at Woodstock beach camp I am exhausted and content, I have upgraded my hammock to a mattress and its looking ever so inviting after a bit of time getting to know the staff over a few beers on the beach.

Day 3:

Another sunrise to welcome the day, followed by a dip in the ocean. A staff member has the morning off and we agreed to motivate each other to go hiking. We speed off to Cat Ba national park on a scooter and hike through greenery for a bit less that an hour. The trail ends as we emerge from the top of the trees, we have a view above all the other mountains which look like a big, interconnected, land version of Halong Bay.

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The afternoon is spent doing yoga on the shore, a sunset swim and reading ‘eating animals’ (which I can’t recommend highly enough- well written and shocked me to tears).

Day 4:

I was thinking about leaving on this day… Of course I didn’t.

Morning yoga down by the beach. The bartender and I were on similar levels of laziness on this day so we watched cartoons together and drank mango smoothies. Eventually we were restless enough to agree we needed to get up. I jumped on the back of his bike and we rode down to a secret little cove at an unfinished resort. We rode through the thick of the island on a tiny overgrown track (a line through the jungle where trees weren’t- but rocks and bushes definitely were). We stopped occasionally to explore and admire.

I read during sunset laying in a hammock on the beach.

My last night. We all moved over to the beach bar after a big, group feast. The stars were bright and so was the phosphorescence in the sea. I met even more new people, more kind souls I got to know and connect with so quickly. And all too quickly it was time to leave.

Day 5:

A group of us, horrified by the litter on the beach asked for some bags to start cleaning it up. The staff offered a free beer for each bag of rubbish we collected (which is awesome).

I hung out in the art zone for the rest of the morning, making bracelets, necklaces and coating shells in glitter.

Woodstock hostel!
Woodstock hostel!

Woodstock created such an idyllic little hideaway from all things bad and busy. There were hugs goodbye and personal jokes and I left with such a good feeling about my time spent there and all of Vietnam. About my time spent this whole year and al the people I shared it with.