Survived my last bus ride in Vietnam. If you were to consult the internet forums on the topic that is a miracle beyond belief. Half the travelers out there will have you believing that bus rides in Vietnam are a death wish and have you fearing for your life. While yes, I will admit some of the drivers I have encountered aren’t by any means winning awards for their driving skills – they proved to be a convenient, inexpensive and when all is said and done a safe way to travel the country.
I actually grew to like them. I was guaranteed some down time that I would use to catch up on my journal, read my books, listen to podcasts or my favorite way to pass the time on them – meditate. You would be surprised at the amount of clarity I’ve gained nestled into the sleeper cubby of a double decker night bus.
I spent about 24 hours in Ho Chi Minh and honestly that was enough for me. Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and I know there is a lot of culture there and tons to see, but I have not really been a fan of the larger cities in SEA. I wasn’t up for another overpopulated city filled with crazed motorbikers, an absurd amount of air pollution and the smell of random fish markets in 90 degrees weather that made me dry heave.
We got in late on Friday night and wandered around for what felt like eons to find a place with a menu in english. We settled for this bizarre little local joint and ended up having by far the worst meal I’ve had yet.
The next day, with no real desire to see any of the “spots”, we just wandered around a little, stopping at a few cafes. I was mentally checked out. My flight to Bali was at 9pm and all I had on my mind was white sand beaches with crystal clear blue waves crashing on the shore.
Fast forward to the airport. I was allotted one carry-on that could weigh 15 lbs. Last time I checked I was about double that. Having gotten rid of some stuff along the way, I was still prepared to layer up and put on the majority of my clothing at the airport to make it past check in and avoid the additional $50 for a checked bag. Standing in line, looking rather bulky and dripping sweat, I was hopeful. I got to the front and the guy handed me my boarding pass without as much as even looking at my bag. I was relieved but also felt a little dumb suffocating under 10 layers of clothing…
First leg of the journey to paradise was a breeze. Now it was time for my 6 hour layover in Singapore. If you have to have a long layover, Singapore is the place for it though. It is ranked the best airport in the world, and I will say it is pretty damn nice. Among the many shops, restaurants and lounges is a cactus garden, a lotus garden and a huge slide. My layover was from 11pm-5am though, so all I really wanted was a big comfy bed.
I did stumble upon the ‘Prayer Room’ though. Curious as to what is was, I went to check it out. Turned out to just be a room with some rugs you could throw down, a few Mala beads hanging on the wall and a stack of religious books in the corner. Thinking, ‘Heck, why I’m in here I may as well say a quick prayer’, I grabbed a beautiful gold and royal blue rug, laid it on the floor, sat down and started to just talk to God. I pray a lot in my head throughout the day, but I forgot how powerful and calming it is to pray out loud. There is something about hearing the sound of your own voice, speaking to a higher power. Once I started I couldn’t stop. The tears started to roll down my face as I sat there whispering to the Lord. I could feel my heart opening and filling with love and gratitude and reassurance like never before. It was the most beautiful and profound moment I’ve had so far – on the floor of the Singapore airport in the middle of the night…Go figure, right.
After another quick and delirious flight, I had finally arrived in Bali. A very long anticipated moment…