in Going West

Little Stories – Laos, Malaysia,and Saigon in 2019 or so

Sometimes in this never ending saga, directions get fubar. One way is pretty much as good as another. Then direction really does not apply as much as the Going. This next part tells a few stories about the Going. So we will get going. The stories do not run one after the other. They are just little snippets of a life spent wandering in 2019 and 2020 early on.

Vientiane Laos

Once upon a time there was Laos. I went to Laos on no real mission at all besides to spend a month going. I flew from somewhere to Vientiane and then on to Luang Prabang. This is not really a travel log but more like an experience. Laos was not just another country to add to my bevy of places. It was a piece of things to experience. I wanted to go because I wanted to go. So I went. First up was the getting there. I don’t quite recall where I flew from but I guess I could go look but the from and to are not so important as the going. I found Vientiane or it found me and I also found friendly faces, wonderful French bakeries and little restaurants dotting the side streets and alleys by my Hotel. Burgers and noodles and sandwiches and BeerLao. Often getting back to the hotel I discovered I had no bottle opener so the kindly front desk clerk would find one and I would sit on the stairs of the hotel drinking. Other people Laotian and tourists wandered by and nodded. Tuktuk drivers smiled. I was in my element. Sitting on the street drinking. I also found one of my favorite bakeries so would go back for the food I had grown fond of in Hanoi. It was all there and the wonderful coffee. Over about 9 days I guess I wandered the city. I found malls and small markets, Wats. Vientiane seemed rather laid back to me and almost sleepy at times. I did not mind because often I would end up at an ice cream parlor by the palace eating. No hurry to find something ever. The pace of Vientiane seemed just right for the moments I had there.

Slowly the lights would turn down though and evening had come. The hotel got busy as more guests showed up or left. I would just sit and watch. I am guessing the hotel staff got used to me and one young woman would practice English on me I think. I invited her to sit on the stairs out front but she was all dressed up for working and she thought her manager would not be so kindly taken with spending time drinking BeerLao with an American. But she was tempted I think.

For more Vientiane photos, check out my gallery here.

Luang Prabang Laos

After some days with this itinerant wandering I had to fly to Luang Prabang. Now this was a city and a mentality and a place to party, eat, see things like waterfalls. I would spend 10 more days there. The days were spent just walking all around and repeating and mixing and going backwards and seeing the Mekong River and whatever else. In the evenings the night market fired up so I would go sometimes to look. I really loved the night market as it spread across the city streets and everyone took time to look, shop, bargain. Down the street was this wonderful burger place that served up buffalo burgers. I could sit and watch the market happenings and eat. My hotel was down this wonderful side street so beautiful and unique. I loved the arriving and departing.

One of the days I took a day tour down the river. This was idyllic floating along and seeing the land and river scapes and stopping at places like Kwangsi Falls. Then swimming in emerald green waters after sweating the day away. Of course there was beer there and food too.

I would have to say this was rather dreamy and the days whittled down to me having to leave again. My wonderful stay in Luang Prabang Laos has more photos. Check them out here.

It was an interesting thing that I flew back to Vientiane and stayed one night at this hotel and the front desk clerk was Vietnamese. We ended up visiting most of the morning and then I would fly back to somewhere else. Maybe it was Vietnam. I seem to remember it was somewhere.

Malaysia Christmas 2019

Kuala Lumpur has always been this escape valve for me. I decided to leave Manila Philippines and go to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas. I could go and find nothing but always feel life had given me more. KL at Christmas time. Santa Claus in the mall. Christmas songs down the streets. Lights strung up. I spent about 10 days there and felt this awakening from the lesser conditions I felt in Manila. Like arriving there at the KLIA was an awakening and I could hop the express train to KL Sentral Station and my hotel across the street. And the little beer bar I would go back to for draft beers. Then there was the wandering in all directions. After all this part of the story does focus on directions. Leaving the hotel I would just go. Was there a thing to find? No. A beautiful building or historic property? No. It was just the city that always astounded me. This warm, sometimes brooding, mystical city with all the wonderful cultures together. The food that appeared on street corners delighting the mornings. Next door to my hotel, the food court serving up wonderful Chinese concoctions of spicy noodles. The place down the street with the delicious bbq pork ribs with rice and tall Tiger beer bottles. So much to occupy my directions! And it was Christmas time too.

For two weeks just about I wandered KL yet again. City streets became my streets, Moods became colors. Lights shone down in the evenings from the wonderful sky scrapers and the mosque. What a wonderful, sensuous city to call mine. It seemed to check off all the elements and conditions of going west or south or whatever.

KL was an escape for me in Christmas 2019. I had visited Taiwan for months before and spent some time in Philippines. I left there early and visited Malaysia.

And then…

Saigon after Malaysia 2020

So after Malaysia for whatever reason I ended up in Saigon. I was supposed to fly back to Manila and then catch this flight to Narita but Philippines had a volcano so instead I changed things. Anyways, I had 10 days in Saigon to do just about what I always did. I wandered around, ate and drank, and always found stuff that was completely different than the last time I was there which must have been after Taiwan. Confusing? Yeah. Well, Taiwan is another story yet but it is longer so I’ll publish my months there later.

I vaguely remember wandering around District 1 in Saigon and seeing my friend Nhanh that I mentioned before. We went out to eat a few times, went to a movie, took a few walks, drank more than enough coffee in various and sundry coffee shops and talked. I think we also went on an evening cruise on the Saigon River while I was there.

A few nights I ended up at the Corner Cafe. This little bar which was… On a corner. Duh. They served iced cold Tiger Beer so I would go sit and wait for the waiter to ask,

mo bia?

I would order more and tip him a little and then he came around more often and I drank more often.

I could sit and watch Saigon just go crazy like it always did. If you have never been, Saigon just seems to have this penchant to go nuts on the streets with thousands of conversations between motorbikes and cars and trucks and taxis. You can guess who wins the arguments. The police kind of benevolently watch while the lights change but no one notices. Traffic lights it seems are suggestions only just like Walk signs.

After 2 weeks or so, I left Saigon and Vietnam and I’d be gone to visit my daughter in the US which also is when I rode Amtrak across the US. More stories though. Plenty of space on this server to tell all those.

Learning from your little stories

I think since I quoted Winnie the Pooh earlier, there are key learning points from those stories about how to find, look, dream. I once thought of what possible Winnie the Pooh character I was and I came up with Eeyore. It seemed to be just the mix of feelings and moods sometimes. Morose, sometimes negative. Often looking for a thing behind myself. I knew I could not be Tigger or Piglet. Not wise enough to be the owl. But figuring out what character was a small thing compared to learning from the stories.

Does it make sense to find something when one is not looking? Uh oh. Another Pooh Bear moment I fear.

This little sampling of stories was a lot of fun to derive and write on. Each one was separate if you use time to measure but they all came together in this post because it seemed like they belonged somehow.

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