I stuffed my wet belongings into my wet pack. It had been a rough few days. The latest episode involved me being woken up at 3am in my hostel ‘roof hammock’ by a freak tropical storm that soaked me, body and spirit. The sudden night drenching was funny later, but at the time, I was too disgruntled to be amused.
My misadventures began with a confrontation between myself and a swindling hostel owner in the Cambodian/Vietnamese border town of Kep which didn’t end well for me. The next morning I hopped a boat bound for the almost unpopulated Koh Tonsai (Rabbit Island) to pitch my tent and regain my happy head space. That night at 2am, I woke up in a perfect cartoon caricature of ‘terrified freeze mode’ to the snapping and snarling of two dogs fighting against my tent wall. Dogs again! I love our canine friends but they have been my nemesis on this trip. My heart pounded and my thoughts raced but a statue couldn’t have been more still. They settled down once dominance was established but not before a few teeth had punctured my flyless tent. Not laying far enough away for my comfort, I maintained a nervous vigil until morning.
The boatman manning the craft back to the mainland wouldn’t honour my return ticket (because the ticket seller forgot to write my boat number on the back) but I was tired and in no mood to be messed with. Gritting my not so white ivories, I braced my feet in the sand, clamped my hands onto the boat gunnel and wouldn’t let go until the captain accepted my valid ticket and allowed me aboard. He ultimately relented, but only because his only other option was to physically pry my fingers off. Unintimidated, I wobbled past him with all the dignity I could muster and matched his grimace, scowl for scowl. The five Chinese tourists onboard, however, found the whole incident hilarious and cackled uproarously.
That night, back in Kep, the tropical storm delivered another sleepless night. The dispiriting events, combined with meeting a few solo-travelling young women who had been robbed of money and passports by motorbike snatchings (one of whom had been dragged and held at gun point) settled in my mind – all signs pointed to a change of plan – I decided to ditch Vietnam and set a course for the Thai Islands to soak up some sun.
Passing through Bangkok on my way south I met a lovely Taiwanese lady with delicate sensibilities who knew the city well. We feasted on scrumptious red curry seafood, visited art galleries, magnificent temples, and climbed windy towers. And at some point, the cloud that had latched itself onto me was finally blown away. For the most part it has been an incredible trip, full of beautiful experiences and nice people, but I came to the conclusion that wherever you go, there is no escaping occasional sad and stormy days and the odd bad egg. In the words of Lao Tzu – “life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes, don’t resist them, that only leads to sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like”. And in the words of yours truly, – it’s a welcome relief when the sun burns through the cloud and the spring is back in your step.