I had thought I would not write until I reached Tainan but here I find myself in my hotel room on a Sunday morning. My last day here in Taichung and I’m moving on to Tainan tomorrow. Instead of some catchy title which will inspire you to read or come back again, the post today is only about some reflections of things. Perhaps a grab bag of little things that will never amount to much but I figure its all grist for the blog. Since the blog has no direction or moral compass anything is good. It’s not a travel blog but it is a blog about one old retire guy’s wandering and hobo times on the edge in Southeast Asia and leaving soon. It’s also not meant for affiliate links or product reviews even though I may offer subjective comments about certain products as I go. Finally, since it is a reflection only of a hobo life spent living where I please, I tend to write about the things that reflect well or poorly. I have preconceived notions about everything including backpackers, digital nomads, gap year people, round the world people, and a bunch of friends or non friends as the case may be. See? I told you its gonna be a blog post for the ages. Maybe you should just click away now.
Still here? Mkay. Here’s some things I saw in the reflection pool from 2019. I know its early for this kind of post. Too bad. I feel like writing it.
This is not about traveling. Traveling has a destination. And its not about tourism. Tourism has places on lists that you perhaps cull from instagram because someone else tells you that is an influencer, has 90k twitter or instagram followers its cool. So what is this about? This reflection is on movement. It’s about a different kind of seeing things. The small things that may not open your eyes as wide as the Taipei 101 tower or Bitexco tower in Saigon. It’s about small things that go bump between each step you take. Little things you perhaps ignore or don’t have time for on your 7 days itineraries and planned trips which sound suspiciously like traveling and tourism to me. It’s about little things that are not rolled into moments on social media. It’s the alley in Saigon where the hair dressing shops and small restaurants line the path and the Vietnamese people wave and say hello and the children smile and are precise with their English. Have you seen that?
It’s not about destinations. Because if you truly visit a place like Kuala Lumpur you know the city has no destinations. It’s forever moving and has a spirit and soul and a feeling. I doubt you can see it or touch it with three day destination tours in KL. Destinations rankle me. It’s like people say “ok. Made it. I have 24 hours in this place. Show me what you got”. Seriously?
It’s about the people. Duh. I mean its what makes all the places places. It’s not tours and magnificent temples and wondrous works of art and history. It’s about the people. In Cambodia, getting away from the tourist centers meant finding the people. The beautiful and wonderful and friendly Khmer people. Waving, smiling, being just how they are. In the one park in Saigon it was the mom and daughter talking to me about their love of Vietnam and making sure I was happy with their country. So if you go to places and not people you may be doing it all wrong. People will say “oh Thailand, so friendly. Land of smiles”. I don’t think so any more. I think it’s the land of visitors being seen with $$ on their backs only. I won’t be going back because its not about the people there. It’s about the money. Bangkok especially has no real soul or spirit. It’s kind of empty. Glass towers and no soul. If you want the soul and the feeling and the mystique and wonder and people all coming together there is really only one country and that’s Malaysia.
Finally in this exposition, its about getting old. Expectations, limitations, beliefs about getting old. We cannot do this or that. We cannot travel or hobo the world and I was astounded in my previous twitter adventures to find such a slant toward the millennial travel experience. I’m willing to bet there are more retired expats than most would ever expect. We are not so “in your face” and sometimes demanding and arrogant and insulting and many of us trend away from social media. Yet you will find us in countries and cities enjoying the retired life that a slower pace offers. Getting old is not about losing fascination, ideas, thoughts or things that bring wonder or frustration. Getting old means just that. The world is open to all. Anyone can do what I did. Just get rid of everything. If it does not fit in a backpack, it can’t go. Perhaps this is adverse to most seniors. They want the comfort of the home and hearth. The final place where the slow walk to McDonalds for the weekend cribbage can happen. It does not have to be everyone’s description of growing old. Make your own. You can do it.
The thing that wraps all this together in a pretty bow is the ending of 2019 just around the corner. To me, the last year has been one of amazing moments and people. My wonderful Vietnamese friends that will always check on me, make sure I am happy and healthy, see if I have eaten and am sleeping okay. What a wonderful year of moments and it ain’t over yet. I reach the end in Taiwan after two months and have an interlude in Philippines. Christmas there and New Years! Maybe a few friends to see that live and work there. Expats that are not retired.
I’ll leave this at the final statement about looking back. It’s okay to look back. Just don’t try to walk there :-). Have a good day. You deserve it. Or not.