Some Thoughts in a Vietnamese Hotel Room

by Suzanne Mahadeo

March 19, 2012

Sitting up halfway in a hotel in Hue, Vietnam, staring out the open window as birds circle between the nearby hotels and “touristic”—as everyone calls it overseas—restaurants. Ben is reading me a potential itinerary of this week’s must-sees: a museum of Cham Dynasty ruins from the 4th–12th centuries in nearby Da Nang, a Czech Brewery and restaurant (but they sell turtles and crocodiles from China, so that one is a no-go), …, and I can only listen halfway as I am focused on recording this memory for the future so that I can remember how lucky I am to be experiencing all of this.

These days, I’m fortunate to be able to take work when I want to, and have only to worry about seeing the country before I run out of that country’s visa. In India it was only three months. In Vietnam, it’s only one. There have been countries whose visas we didn’t fully use, like four months in New Zealand or nine months in China, instead of the entire one-year in either, or days in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and the Philippines, instead of the full month allowed for each country’s visa.

I spend my time seeing what I can of each place, meeting new people, resting, organizing the next trip, eating a mix of local street food and at international restaurants when homesick, and then trying to document it all through photos, videos, and journal musings that I never have enough time to string together. There definitely are people who pack up their things at home and take off abroad for a while, but for some reason, most people end up going back home or stick around in one spot because of the comfortable life they’ve created there. We haven’t found home, yet, and I think that’s what we’re looking for…

Street vendor going about her business and reading the day’s news in Hanoi, Vietnam.