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Let’s start unfollowing …

Wednesday evening in Ubud, Bali.

I’m at a restaurant having dinner. At the table next to mine is a couple. He looks like he’s in his mid fifties, she looks a bit younger. He looks rough. Shorts, tank top, unshaved, messy hair and apparently from New Zealand. She is blond with a nice hair cut, earrings, nice dress, younger than him and apparently from Russia.

He is constantly talking. His phone delivers a pling every few minutes and he emidiately picks up the phone to check it. He speaks loud in a cocky way and interrupts her. He tells her different stories which all is about how amazing he is

She is timid, speaks with a low voice and looks at him in an admiring way with a smile on her face affirming him with tine nods.

He is the rooster showing off his tail feathers and she is admiring them.

The other day I had lunch  at a local place. A family consisting of father, mother and two children came and sat at the table next to me. They seemed to be in a hurry so they finished their lunch quickly. 45 minutes tops. This man didn’t stop talking during these 45 minutes. The wife tried to say something twice but he interrupted her efficiently both times.

These are just two examples out of many I have seen during my trip around Asia. One might think that this is a cultural thing locals engage with. But no, these are tourists. Caucasian middle aged med being so full of themselves.

What I can not understand with this is how these women put up with being treated that way. Are women so desperate for not being single? Is this how women were brought up? How is it possible this is still happening.

Manspreading, Mansplaining, Mantalking …

I read an article about a research done on how men express their opinions on things they don’t know for sure but say it in a very assertive way. And people never question them.

I saw a video showing scientist Veronica Hubeny being interrupted and mansplained her own research by the male moderator. Fortunately there was a woman who finally reacted and asked him to let Ms Hubeny talk.

I read an article telling about an Uber board member tried to joke that women talk too much. But the reality is that ”women have not been judged on the grounds of wether they talk more than men, but of wether they talk more than silent women”.

Why not start doing as J.K. Rowling did the other day when she unfollowed a man on Twitter because he called Teresa May a whore. Aren’t we all, just like Ms Rowling said, sick of men whose mask slips every time a woman displeases them and who reach immediately for crude and humiliating words.

Let’s start unfollowing men who doesn’t deserve the attention they want and show some self respect.

Let’s start unfollowing.

And for the record. I don’t dislike men in general.

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Kindness and Compassion …

We all travel for different reasons. We all find different things interesting. I love interacting with people. And I sometimes interact with people just as a social experiment.

I have been in Saigon for 15 days now. The city as such is not the place to linger in but still there are a lot of tourists visiting. Passing by. There are also many expats here. Some are working and some are just …here. Many of the latter for the simple reason of money. As one of the staff at the hostel where I’m staying put it. It may be cheap for you spending 6 dollars a night here but it provides 3 of us here with salary. Please note that for 6 dollars a night I also get a good breakfast that keeps me full for half a day.

Here in Vietnam you can get a beer for 50 cents, and decent meal or a pack of cigarettes for 1 dollar. All those cheap places harbour some of the expats. The only thing they ‘have’ to do is to keep track of when have to do their next run to Cambodia for the visa extension. In between those occasions they drink beer from noon until late evening, get drunk, tell the newly arrived how much they know about this country, constantly comparing prices informing others of how cheap things are or where to go to get the cheapest price and complaining. The complaints are about the locals, the traffic, the food, the people, the culture and how this country is governed. While getting drunk on cheap beer.

Did I mention that all these complaining individuals are all men.

The staff at the hostel are amazing. Always tentative, always trying to make sure I get the best breakfast, asking me if I’m ok and in any way possible trying to make my stay as pleasant as possible. With age I have started waking up early. So I sneak out of the dorm and go to the kitchen to make myself coffee. I love sitting outside watching the city wake up starting the day. Everywhere I’ve been in Asia there’s always someone sleeping in the reception. Also in this hostel. A man, probably my age, sleeping on the couch until it’s time to unlock the front door. Third morning he was already up when I arrived at 6 am. It turns out he prepared a table and two tiny chairs outside and made coffee. So this has become our morning routine. He makes sure I am ok, makes himself an iced coffee and get started with his morning chores and occasionally sits for a while sipping his coffee. That is just one of the many things he does every day for other people.

I would marry that man any minute if we had been able to communicate. A more kind and compassionate man is hard to find.

When I was in Hanoi I met a couple coming to the same cafe every morning at 7 am for tea. Every morning they payed for my coffee and made sure I had tea and breakfast. In Mui Ne I had almost the same experience. These are just some examples of good people in Vietnam.

Kindness and Compassion.

Two winning components in a person that will always gain my respect.

 

 

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My Chinese family visiting …

Saigon. I’ve been here once before but I have to admit I don’t remember anything from this city. That time I was on a group tour traveling throug three countries during two weeks. Lots of impressions packed in a short period of time.

Everyone told me there is nothing to see here. It’s a big, busy, polluter and modern city. And in a way they are right. But Saigon is so much more than that. There is also beautiful back alleys, friendly people and of course awesome food. The latter I have to thank my friends Alex and Tango for. They are the foodies you want to explore the local cuisine with.

Alex I met when I was in Bali. We stayed at the same hotel, we had breakfast together every morning and consequently we talked a lot. Alex eventually invited me to come and visit her and her friends in Malaysia where they live. The consequence of spending two weeks with that lot was me gaining weight. They all took turns in taking me to different places for breakfast, coffee sections, luncheons, dinners food in between and thanks to Tango we even went fo food at 1 am. Yes, that place opened at 1 am. They are Chinese Malaysian which means, especially Tango, I was introduced to the divorce chinese cuisine. I also gained a lot of weight.

And now they are here meeting up in Saigon. Alex, her three children Matthew, Rachel, Rebecca and Alex’s friend Tango. We are all stayin in the same dorm. It’s like having a slumber party around the clock. I love it. I love them. When we met again two days ago they noticed I had lost weight. 10 kilos to be precise. A loss I neither miss nor regret.

Here is a riddle for you. How do you recognise a foodie?

My friends Alex and Tango get that special light in their eyes and their faces brightens up when we talk, look at or eat food. They will go that extra mile to find that local dish. We even went from having dinner, then to next place for desert and then to the local food stall for another dish so we wouldn’t miss out and then topping up with a fourth meal. All in one evening.

I love my Chinese family. They have thought me so much.  I wish the rest of the family members could have joined but one can’t always get what you want. Next time in Ipoh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friendship and Love …

Today I woke up just after 3 am. I know, it is a bit crazy but that is what happens when when I relax. I sleep when I want and need to. Just around that time is when my friends in Sweden are getting ready for bed. That includes them checking on social media and therefor I get messages from back home around that time.

Life goes on. Everywhere. My life, my friends lives. Different shapes but pretty much same same. Good things happen, difficulties appear, solutions are presented. Life happens.

The worst part is when I can not be there for my friends. Being close makes a difference. Wether it is for support or consolation.

The best part is when I get a call from a friend and time just flies. Conversations that leave me with a smile on my face. I realised I made new friends back home while traveling. Perhaps it is the distance that has brought us together. A friend I proudly would call my sister.

My life in Mui Ne has been quite ordinary. I’ve done almost the same thing every day. Rise early, go and have coffee for hours, bikini on, go to the pool, have breakfast, take a swim, read a book, talk on the phone, have an early dinner, treat myself with a beer in the evening, go to bed. The best part about this is that I get to meet the same locals every day. We sort of get to know each other. The guy taking my breakfast order knows what I want and meeting him every morning makes it easy to have a conversation. We meet in the evening and make some small talk. I meet the same kids playing in the street every afternoon, men and women recognise me. We greet, talk about their children, about the weather. We become familiar to each other. My neighbourhood for a while.

Yes, this is also traveling. Taking it slow. Not going on all guided tours available, not rushing, just … living.

I have now finished my book. The one I’ve had in my bag for the past seven months. My stay in Mui Ne is complete. One more day here and I’m leaving for Ho Chi Minh City. It’s going to be two weeks meeting old friends, new friends and family. I can’t wait.

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Adventures starts where plans ends …

The adventure starts where your plan ends.

I received this line from a very wise young woman I know. I had just told her about my journey from Hanoi to Mui Ne.

When I stayed in Hanoi I had to change accomodation twice.  That means I stayed at 3 different hostels during 9 days. It wasn’t my choise movin. First place the bathroom was so moldy They had to close the dorm. Secon place had no door handles on the inside bathrooms and toilet so I ended up being locked in. Third place I stayed without anything happened. Hanoi me an accomodation adventure.

So I decided to find a beach down south and thought Mui Ne could be that place. Talked to the receptionist and she told me train would be a hustle. Furthermore I would have to go 35 kilometres from train station to hostel in Mui Ne. Bus would be easier she said. Ok, lets go for the bus. She booked and I payed. Easy. She also told me it would take two nights and one day to get there. Here is what really happened.

I got on the bus, a sleeper, and made myself comfortable. It really was comfortable. We were off and I did as I always do when I know the ride is going to be long. I get music in my ears and I go to sleep. Suddenly I was waken up told I had to get off. Turns out another bus company is taking over so we have to get another bus. Free transportation is arranged and we get to the bus office. We wait for a few hours and get on the second bus. Hours later I am awaken again told I have to get of to catch another bus. This time no transportations is arranged so a motorbike taxi takes me to the bus office. There I had to wait for 5 and a half hours before we get on next bus. And for the third time I am awaken told I have to get off. New bus station, new waiting, new bus to get on. Finally I get off in Mui Ne and I share a taxi with 2 german girls heading to the same hostel. What seemed to be an easy journey, the one I chose because it would be most comfortable one turned out to be the most challenging.

44 hours and 4 busses.

Not having control.

That is one of the things about traveling. Especially traveling on a budget. A lot of times you don’t have control. And trust me that is a good thing. It is a challange but rewarding. You learn how to cope in unpredicted situations. You learn that every problem has a solution and how resourceful we are if we let ourselves.

That is when you can stop planning and instead focus on the adventure. Ok, so I am on a special adventure now traveling for a longer period of time. But the adventure can actually take place in your every day life. Not planning for activities one day and decide what to do based on what you feel like doing that specific day. Or quitting the job you are miserable with without having a plan. Or taking the local transportation to the end station where you have never been before. Or  learning a hobby totally out of your comfort zone.

Your mind sets the limit. When we don’t let our fears and insecurity be our guides that is when the adventure starts.

I just talked to a woman my age traveling for 8 months. She told me her journey had taught her how indecisive she is. Realising that her focus on doing the right thing made her indecisive and therefor limited her. This is a paradox since we never can tell if a decision is the right one until afterwards. And even if we thought of every little detail we sometimes end up realising that decision wasn’t the best. But sometimes it is the best.

Not doing any planing is not realistic. But doing less planning and being more open to possibilities that might come our way is more rewarding.

The adventure starts where your plan ends.