May, 2004: The Girl had signed up for Semester at Sea, sailing around the world on a cruise ship full of undergrads and a few brave faculty members. There was to be a “parent meet up” opportunity somewhere along the way – for that trip, it was Vietnam.
Traveling solo, i joined a group of about 50 wealthy white people* in Bangkok, and we made our way to Vietnam to meet the ship as it pulled into port. We had a couple days in Bangkok, touring together, which told me i was sort of the odd (wo)man out – only a couple of us on the trip without mates, no interest in shopping, i was pretty content to just chill on my own.
After we met up with the students, we had time in Ho Chi Minh City to explore. The tour company handling the parents put us on buses, and we went to various museums. It was on this afternoon i met two couples who were not like the others – a brother and sister, traveling with their spouses, they had been students with Semester at Sea back in the 70’s. They were on the trip to meet with a son/nephew and do some exploring of their own while halfway around the world.
We were headed back to the hotel and the bus driver stopped at a Vietnam Airlines storefront. The two couples said their goodbyes and prepared to hop off the bus – “We’re going to see if we can find some cheap flights to Halong Bay while we’re here. Wander a bit, then maybe fly over to Phuket for some diving before we head home…”
i looked at The Girl after they departed. “i would love to be able to travel like that! Just make it up as you go! i don’t think i’ll ever have that confidence!”
February, 2018: Driving by the Izmir train station.“You know, next time we’re here, maybe we should hop a train? Let’s just see where we can go…”
* The demographic on the ship was heavily skewed to kids with money. The Girl managed to find her way into the tribe of the hippies on board. She often referred to the ship as the “Aryan Nation Love Boat”.