So I started writing my own version of a travel guide on the train earlier today, somewhere overlooking the cold Vietnamese coast to the East and shadowed by green mountains to the West. Sort of an anti-travel guide travel guide, if that makes any sense. I was reflecting as padi fields and small villages passed by the window how I had no idea that I would be riding this train less than 12 hours before, that it was the result of a series of last minute adjustments and unforseen events – and that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Had IÂ a better understanding of how to get where I wanted to go, or even a clear picture of where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I would have been spared a good deal of anxiety and a few moments of panic, but I also would have missed out on any number of experiences that I might never forget my entire life.
As it is, I find myself at some guesthouse in Quy Nhon, a town right on the coast, which has given me in its first hour an awesome impression. The streets are somewhat busy in a lazy sort of way, now that the sun has gone down, I found some tasty noodles down on the street from an old woman that got a kick out of dishing out a bowl to a strange white fellow, and best of all, a warm ocean breeze slides through the streets and into my face, a soft sort of air that I have not felt for far too long.
But we seem to have wondered away from where we started, which was this travel guide. Books like the Lonely Planet often prevent one from experiencing a lot of great things as it becomes a crutch – it defines its own reality. It’s kind of a self fulfilling prophecy, because someone using it to travel in a foreign country might indeed feel like it is a lonelyplanet, detached from the rest of humanity even as they are surrounded by it.