Improvisational dance

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…”

turkish railway map.jpg

* 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”. 

18 thoughts on “Improvisational dance

  1. One of the few pleasant aspects of living here in Kazakhstan is that it’s shunned by the rich kids in shorts (of a type that wouldn’t be tolerated even in Izmir) and dreadlocks.

    Get the train to Turkmenistan and I’ll fly down and meet you 🙂

    • Perhaps on a future trip! We are busy this weekend assisting The Girl with her students at a national tournament (Destination Imagination), and then headed home. Friends of hers drove to Bulgaria a few weeks ago – i think i could rent a car, too!

    • You know i had dreadlocks from 1993-98 dontcha? lol!! it was before the kids really usurped them. I shaved them off because i was to easy to pick out of a police line-up. And for the record they were au naturel punk rock dreads, not the store bought kind the kids like today, these were big nasty fuckers and were amazing at attracting the fairer sex from all walks of life. Strange.

      • i have an acquaintance who was rockin’ the dreads for many years – 40-something white woman. She has such a stunning face, great features, that it was a great look for her… i have briefly considered it, but just don’t think it would work. Would have to be natural dreads, as i’ve grown far too lazy to bother much with hair work. i wake up, run my fingers through it and go. if it’s a psychotic mohawk, sometimes i use a little water and a brush. other days, i go out with a psychotic mohawk.

  2. “Aryan Nation Love Boat” – funny
    I have done trips where a few days were not planned (no lodging, no set destination) and it was enjoyable but it was only a few days. We have never done the cruise boat thing and don’t plan to since those trips always seem too planned out. Your post leaves me missing the international travel I once did.

    • This is a learning experience for us. i am a “planner”, but usually find that i have more fun with “unplanned”. Makes travel complicated – so i have learned to develop contingencies to calm my “planner” mind, while still doing a lot of improv along the way.

      We are done with cruise ships. Got talked into doing one a few years ago – and it was a lot of fun – but not our gig. When i took my Mom to Alaska, it was beautiful and perfect, and exactly what we needed to do – so they definitely serve a lot of needs! But not mine…

    • That was me for many years – when there are jobs, and schools, and schedules and other calendar obligations, that level of planning is necessary. But think about what would happen if those obligations vaporized? Still getting used to that concept…

  3. FAN-FUCKIN-TASTIC!! I have become a less fanatical planner and more of a “we leave this day and return on the day” kind of traveler. What happens in between arrival and departure is let to chance. When it’s about visiting the krewe, we tend to make a few commitments and go with the flow. xoxo

    • Buying a one way ticket overseas is next on the agenda… i don’t know how that will feel, but going to just do it. It is liberating once the professional and academic obligations disappear. Just home today after being gone a MONTH! A MONTH! That is the longest i’ve ever been away from my own bed, my own home, my own dark. And it’s strange…

  4. We have done it both ways. Planning seems to work best for us when we are at a foreign destination. There are just too many ways things can go wrong… But when we are on road trips? all bets are off. then we often just head out and go see what we want to see, and not worry too much about planning. that did bite us just a bit one time when we thought we would stay overnight in Dodge City, KS and discovered that there were exactly ZERO hotel rooms available. The wind farm industry had wrapped up most of the rooms for their workers, and CocaCola was building a plant in the town and that took the rest of them. We resignedly continued on down the road.

    • We’re going to be doing a bit more road trips here in the US, and will have very loose plans for those… we have a camper now, and carrying our own bed gives us a lot more flexibility – and the ability to deal with a lack of hotel rooms. But the next big trip starts with a one way ticket to Europe. We will be winging it internationally for more than a month, and that’s going to push my limits! Which is kind of the whole point…

  5. A client was asking me today about travel and it stunned me I’ve been able to travel quite a lot and it saddens me that I haven’t been able to do as much lately. My goal is to have gravitational traveling, to go where I’m drawn, anytime, anywhere.
    I so love your adventures.

    • i have to remind myself that i’m incredibly fortunate to have had so many opportunities to travel. it’s not in the cards for many. we are going to attempt some of that ‘gravitational’ travel this year – we bought a teardrop camper. the plan is to hit the road with some notional targets (ie: the Testicle Festival in North Dakota), and then just go… avoiding peak travel months (ie: summer) whenever possible…

      Just home for a few days after being gone a month, and recovering from the flu, i’m not feeling quite that energetic at the moment, however. Cocooning in my own bed, with my manimals, has some serious gravitational attraction too!

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