Time for a report on my travels through Indochina:
Countries visited: 2 Distance traveled: 2662 miles
Day out: 33 Dollars per day: 44
Unesco Sites visited: 5 Other cool sites: 10
Birds counted(non-captive): <100 Scooters counted: 2.737,569
But these numbers are empty, they say nothing of the color and clamor of the capital cities at this time of the New Year, fail to paint a picture of family togetherness so prevalent in these countries, or of the atrocities of the wars that have ravaged this land. Had I witnessed earlier the collection of photographs presented in the War Remembrance Museum here in Saigon, I might have not completed my trip, unable to look these people in the face. Before such images, my words are empty.
Tonight, after 3 months, I will leave Asia. Three months of strange foods, each day becoming more familiar. Three months of the blare and rumble of traffic, unrelenting, always shocking. A season walking among the smells of frangipani and frankincense, urine and durian fruit, now oddly comforting. Three months of pacing the streets teeming with faces, old women squatting on the sidewalk, chopping and boiling the midday meal, beggars with innumerable afflictions, slowly or rapidly diminishing, fathers in love with their sons, bold schoolgirls waving hello to this tall, stern stranger.
I have walked beneath the cold shoulders of the worlds highest mountains, crawled through hot musty tunnels no larger than my shoulders, ridden rickety trains under giant trees, paddled muddy waters through spiny palm groves. I have learned that the world loves me, it protects and emboldens me. The powers that be have opened the roads and portals, that I might pass freely to where my desire leads. The skies have opened before me, revealing vistas of emerald fields, shining mountain peaks, grey sentinels guarding a moonlit bay. The faces before me are open, the most radiant smiles given by those most destitute. All that has been required of me is to open my mind to the promise of the path ahead...and of course to open my wallet. But in these times of such enormous prosperity and possibility, how can one be reluctant to do so.