Clouds In The Head


The existential uncertainty of being somewhere else
9 May, 2014, 2:29 pm
Filed under: travel versus unravel


Or – what we think we need to do when we travel.

We observe. We make notes. We are surprised. We detect difference. We wonder. We detect similarity.

Oh, look, that’s a good half dozen water buffalo in that paddy. 

They have crofton weed here, too. And that’s a mini-lantana, I wonder how weedy it gets here.

Wow, those women have been hanging round outside our hotel room hoping to sell us stuff for hours!

The locals don’t seem fazed by all that smoke in their houses. 

Does this land ever get a drought?

They like a drink, the men round here, just like us.

We share our thoughts. But we don’t quite know what to do with them. We don’t “travel by thesis” (well we do a bit, but not in an all-engulfing manner – see future blog post “Donna and the Shovel Women” for more info) in the way Marxists of yore once did, seeing everything through the lens of oppression and wage slavery.

We meet folks and compare. Oh, we have crofton weed at home, it’s very bad for horses. 

Khu

And then we take a photo. Here is our guide. Her name was Khu. She was delightful. We sent her a photo when we left. Her command of English was amazing. She was a fine guide through the rice fields of Sapa. She had a gorgeous way of saying “I have no idea”. 

We latch onto ideas, hungry for them, seeking perhaps to legitimise our trip or to find some point of solidarity or something to “take home” to the people when we return. They’re so inspiringly energised: we can learn a thing or two from them.

And then we learn that cocktails are cheap, wine is expensive and suddenly the whole holiday begins to develop its own character and our discoveries, thoughts, notes, differences and similarities can be explored again over an easy daiquiri before bed and the next day’s discoveries can begin.

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