Homecoming

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It’s funny, the things you miss about home. Of course, family, friends, and loved ones are a given, but it’s the other things that are more interesting.

I miss basketball. Man, I miss basketball. In the past five months, I’ve seen one NBA game: Warriors vs Thunder. That was November.

I miss playing guitar. I spent the last year before travel building up calluses, and now I’m back to square one.

I miss home-cooked food. One can only survive on steam buns and dumplings for so long. I haven’t craved potatoes this much in my life. Hell, I’d go crazy for a bagel.

It’s hard to believe, but after five months on this side of the world, it’s time to go home. I hear the refrain again and again: Winter is coming. I dreaded those words once upon a time; not so much anymore. Back to the cold we go.

The great secret of travel isn’t what you come to learn about other places; it’s what you come to appreciate about where you’re from. Just as it shows you the world, it shows you a new side to the world you left behind — the gift of perspective.

The best part? Each time you leave, you come back with something new.

BONUS: What my travel companions miss most about home

Scott:
1. Taco Bell.
2. Video games.
3. Work.

Sara:
1. Variety of food.
2. Petting dogs without fear of rabies.
3. Beds without bed bugs.

Warren:
1. His brothers.
2. Lazy Saturday mornings.
3. Home-cooked meals.

Tales from the road:

1. There’s New York-small, and then there’s Hong Kong-small. We rented an apartment for the week that, if being generous, might be 250 square feet. The showerhead is right above the toilet — which makes for an interesting experience, no matter which appliance you were planning to use.
2. The bus mishaps continue. Less than two hours into our sleeper bus trip from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City, our bus broke down. That might’ve been bearable on its own, but in this case, we still had 18 hours until we were set to reach Ho Chi Minh City. We sat on plastic stools by the side of the road playing euchre at 1am, wondering what karmic ills we had wrought to bring this upon us. Add that to the lack of plumbing and air conditioning that awaited us on board, and we were in for a rough ride. (That wasn’t even the strangest part: there was a KITCHEN KNIFE IN THE BUS’S BATHROOM. Why?!)
3. What do you do with time to spare in Hoi An? Go shopping for tailor-made clothes. In the four days we spent there, our luggage doubled in size… and our wallets shrunk in half. (On a positive note, it’s a good thing we bought our flights home in advance!)
4. Side note: guess whose portraits were on the walls of our homestay in Hoi An? Marx’s, Lenin’s, and Ho Chi Minh’s. Welcome to Vietnam.
5. We went to the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong: a dim sum franchise specializing in pork steam buns. For $19 each, we left stuffed to the gills. (I also learned chicken feet are not for me.)
6. This week’s alternate titles: “Everybody Loves Ramen” and “Hong Kong Swan Song.”

Things I’ve seen:

1. The many lights of Hoi An.

Old Town has a distinct charm, its streets filled with cafes and tailors. It’s a UNESCO Heritage Site for good reason. Wandering through at night gives the streets an added touch of magic, as colours across the spectrum illuminate the night sky.


2. Bird’s eye views.

Ho Chi Minh City seems to spread out forever. Our hostel window looked out onto the sprawling metropolis, offering one of the best views in the whole city. Hong Kong’s skyline, on the other hand, is in a category of its own. The view from Victoria Peak on a clear day is unparalleled.



3. Neon-flooded nights.

Hong Kong has a vibrancy to it that’s hard to capture. Watching it transform from day to night is a spectacle unto itself.



What I’ve been reading/listening to:

Michael Grant – BZRK Reloaded
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Joey Bada$$ – “Curry Chicken”
Shwayze – “Lazy Days”
MisterE – “Connect The Dots”

(Header photo by Scott Riepert)

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2 Comments

Filed under Reporting Blog

2 responses to “Homecoming

  1. Ardith

    Enjoy your homecoming! I think your mom and dad are happy to indulge your longing for home cooked food!
    I’m planning to visit Vietnam in July on a tour led by a friend who has lived there. Look forward to talking more about your experiences, but your travel blogs ave been great! Thanks so much! (What will we do when we no longer have your blogs from bike trip and other travels?😊)

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