Traveling with Risks
Travel is safe. Or, rather, travel is safe but with risks. Risks are involved in everything you do. It’s all about being comfortable living with them.
I met a lovely woman in Hanoi. She was a little older than me and was traveling by herself. Four of us sat around a table drinking beer, when she announced her travel plans.
She planned to buy a motorcycle and drive from Hanoi to Saigon by herself.
She asked what we thought of her idea.
Two of my friends (one Vietnamese and one Western) thought it was a bad idea. Well, not exactly bad, but certainly not good.
I thought it was a great idea. As did my friend.
We had a long conversation during which my friends presented many logical reasons on why it was not a good idea to do what my friend was planning on doing. But, sometimes we don’t make decisions from a logical place. And that’s okay.
Whenever I here about an adventure like this – because that’s what it is…an adventure – I am reminded of one of the first travelers I met. It was shortly after my divorce when I was looking to meet new and interesting people. I started meeting up with a group of couchsurfers in St. Louis. One of the gentlemen I met was named Mark. He planned on quitting his job, flying into Eastern Europe and hitchhiking around that part of Europe.
We had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: “Do you know where you are going to stay?”
Me: “Do you know how long you will be gone?”
Mark: “Not really.”
Me: “Do you know what you will do for money?”
Mark: “I have some saved but not really.”
Me: “Isn’t that dangerous?!”
Mark: “I figure I would rather die hitchhiking in Eastern Europe than die in my bed in Collinsville, Illinois.”
That last sentence of Mark’s has really stuck with me and I think of it every time I am faced with something that is outside of my comfort zone. And I thought of it when my friend told me her plans to ride to Saigon.
Sure, something bad could happen. But, something bad could happen here. Something bad can happen anywhere. So what the hell do you have to lose?
Given the axiom of the universe that something bad can always happen, what are you going to do?
I don’t know what happened to Mark. I am sure that he completed his trip hitchhiking and returned safely to his life in the West. But, I hope that he is still out there, six years later, hitchhiking and working his way around the world.
As for my friend in Vietnam, last I heard she was in Nha Trang, about 870 miles south of Hanoi and 270 miles north of her final destination.
I’m always happy to meet people who listen very intently to all the logical reasons that they shouldn’t do something (like Mark listened to me and my biking friend listened to my two other friends) and then say, “Meh. Fuck it all,” and do what they want to do anyway.
I find those people inspiring and I draw strength from them when I face risk in my own life.
And the world is a sure-as-shit more interesting place with them in it.