“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again, the life I love is making music with my friends, I can’t wait to get on the road again!”
This is the song I was humming as I rolled out of bed, my feet slapping against the cool tile floor of our house in Nai Yang, Phuket. Glancing at my watch, I groan. Early mornings have never been my thing, especially mornings as early as this one. Elisha sits up in bed with a sigh. “Do we really have to get up at four thirty in the morning, just to catch a bus?” Stuffing the few belongings I will be taking along on the trip, I reply “Sadly, yes. Come on buddy, it’s time to hit the road.”
It’s a morning of mayhem and madness.
I lose my hairbrush. Twice. Elisha has trouble holding down his hardboiled egg, and Ezra is grumpy as a result of getting up so early. Mom questions whether I really need my guitar, if maybe I should bring the mandolin instead. Dad announces that our driver has arrived almost forty minutes too early, and Mom accidentally dumps half a gallon of water across the kitchen.
These are the things no one thinks of when they think of our lives. I think. The ridiculously early mornings, the times things go horribly wrong, the miserable moments that somehow become the best stories later on.
This is an insight that has come to me over my travels. The moments where everything goes exactly as planned are never the moments that linger on in your memory for years. It’s the times that everything has fallen to the final level of Dante’s hell that become the stories you laughingly retell over campfires with friends. Therefore, each new difficulty should be greeted with enthusiasm, because that will be the moment you remember.
That’s the rather dismal thought I encouraged myself with that morning as we loaded into the taxi with our bags. Headlights flashed in the night as we drove to the bus station. The sun was still hiding just beneath the horizon, but pale light tinged the clouds light pink. I am wide awake now, unbelievably excited to be traveling again. The next two days will be filled with my least favorite part of the travel experience: buses and planes.
We arrive at the bus station just as the sun begins to rise. There is always something interesting to watch at a third world bus station. You never know what you’ll see being loaded onto the bus. I’ve seen rabbits, chickens, wheelchairs, huge baskets, dogs, and more. But I’ve never seen a moped shoved into the back of a bus until now. The driver and the owner pick it up and push it in, slamming the door behind it so there’s a slightly smaller chance of it popping back out again. Shaking our heads, Mom and I laugh. There’s always something around here.
It’s a long day of sitting in the front of the bus and watching the world go by. Twelve hours pass before we finally arrive in Bangkok. Then it’s a lovely walk through the deserted park to the train station, where we train to the airport, and eventually end up at our hotel. It’s eleven at night, and none of us have eaten anything but a few chips and some popcorn since lunch.
Exhausted, I fall asleep immediately.
It feels as if I’ve slept a total of five minutes before the incessant knocking on my door wakes me. I groan, staggering towards the doorknob like a zombie. A blinding beam of light slashes across my face as I open it to find Mom packed and ready to go. “It’s four thirty. We’re leaving in twenty minutes.” she announces. “Get up.” I walk to the bathroom, trip over the toilet on my way to the sink, turn around into a wall, and somehow manage to scrape my shins against the door. Finally, packed and more or less ready to go, I grab my leftover popcorn and crunch it slowly. The breakfast of champions.
Everyone at the airport looks much the same as I feel. We wander around like zombies, moaning collectively as we stand in line. Barely human, we stare at eachother with bloodshot eyes as we lean crookedly against piles of luggage. It is crowded beyond belief. Lines zigzag across the airport as people wait to check their baggage and get through customs. Who would have thought that it would be so busy at this time of day? At last, we are crowded onto our plane. It’s a short flight, and when we land in Vietnam we are all feeling a little more awake.
My first impressions of Vietnam?
I love it. It’s beautiful, bright, and exciting. The people are very friendly, and the bit of food I’ve had so far has been flavorful and delicious. We’re off! The road is calling us, and our souls long to travel! Let the adventure begin!