The world is a small and wonderous place.

I take the 30-hour overnight bus to Hanoi, partially due to cost (addition to last post: 90 USD also buys me a new HTC smartphone), and partially because when I’m upset, the only thing I ever want to do is sleep.

I arrive in Vietnam more disoriented than ever—without my phone I have no map, no exchange rate, no directions. This must be what actual travel feels like, and it’s far out of my usual comfort zone.

But the next morning I walk down to my hostel’s breakfast and find Jevhon and Dan just arrived—my only connection to home, exactly when I need them.

Over the next few days I get my life back together, and despite how big Hanoi is, I run into more travel friends than really makes sense. The feeling of community while backpacking in Southeast Asia is amazing, and I start to feel safe again.

More than anything, this experience has illuminated all the good people I interact with every day. The English boy who pinky promises to walk me home from the bar 10 minutes after meeting me. The Lao woman who gives my friend a free banana as he sits in her restaurant with me as I eat lunch. The hostel worker who changes my reservation to the correct date free of charge. The deaf Vietnamese man who watches out for us in the club and motorbikes us home when it gets too late. Every person who’s given me directions or advice. And every story I’ve heard about a taxi driver who returned a lost wallet or a hostel who helped return a forgotten passport.

I still wander around alone a bit more than I should, and my heart still stops sometimes when a motorbike races past me late at night, but these are the exceptions to the rule.

I could dwell on the bad stories, but I think it would be hard when I’m surrounded by so much good every day.


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