Traveling as a couple has it’s advantages – you tend to have less harassment from touts, there is always someone to share in the inevitable travel frustrations and it’s cheaper to stay in your own room rather than a disgusting communal dorm. But there is one serious hardship – you are NEVER ALONE.
Vin and I had spent 170 nearly-consequatiive days together – that’s over 4,080 hours of constant companionship. That broke our previous record by 3,192 hours. And frankly that’s too, too, too much time spent with anyone. Even your husband.
Another 24 hours together would have put us into the dangerous ‘teetering on the edge of sanity and divorce’ territory. And with no prenup, neither of us wanted to risk our fragile financial future on divorce lawyers.
So we agreed to split up for a few days.
But as soon as we booked the flights, fear started to creep in. I realized that I was essentially headed to a country that I have never been to, where I knew no one and didn’t have a place to stay. I was totally unplugged – I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have a computer, I didn’t even have a jacket with geolocation so the authorities could find my body in case I died. As the day of my flight approached I began to really regret my rash decision to jet off to Vietnam. Suddenly being on my own didn’t sound so fun.
But it was!
I met fabulous locals who took me out for great food and partied until the wee hours of the Saigon morning. I went to museums and discovered the history of the Vietnam war. I drank a $1 Beer Saigon, indulged in delicious strong coffee and ate at least a dozen Bahn Mi.
I even rented a scooter and took a do-it-yourself tour of the Mekong Delta. And that’s when I came to love Vietnam and I have to say, Vietnam loved me right back.
As a single white woman scooting down the delta by herself, you cut an interesting figure and everyone wants to know what the hell you’re up to.
I sat alone at cafes in tiny off-the-beaten-path cities, and old people would sidle up to ask where I was from, why am I here and would I please meet their friends just down the street? The street food ladies would serve my meal, proudly presenting each dish and encouraging me to try new food. Even people at the hotels wanted to baby me, making sure my purse was carried properly and warning me about thieves.
As I scooted into CanTho, a fairly large city, I must have looked incredibly lost. Yet in all that crazy traffic a man motored up to me and asked, “Where are you going! To a cheap hotel? Follow me!” and he directed me to exactly the correct location, parting with the warning to “Protect yourself. Protect your money and protect your moto. Call me if you need help!”
As I headed off on my own I felt vulnerable and more than a little scared. But instead of being killed and left for dead, person after person welcomed me to their small town and told me that they could help if I needed it. It felt like the world was looking out for me.
And I can happily say that after 264 hours apart, Vinnie and I regained our sanity and remember why we’re so happy to be traveling together.