We all fall in love at a certain point in our lives. It heralds the beginning of a new relationship and comes with the promise that your life will never be the same again. It’s happened to me as well. My muse, however, is travel. Like true love, I don’t remember when I fell in love with travel, only that I am still as enthused about it as I was the first time it happened. Relationships need certain goals and when I saw my blank passport in 2008, I decided to take action. My first clumsy date ended up in rejection from a Schengen country and I lay low for a while, hurt and dejected at having met such an unforeseen end.
I thought I’d break up with travel because she didn’t want me and got busy with my normal life. More than two years later, the nagging suspicion that my love had not left me completely began to gnaw at me with alarming consistency. I decided I had become mature in these months and decided to give it a shot one more time. This time, I wanted to take no chances. I wanted my second attempt at my love to be completely successful. This was do-or-die for me. I began looking for a worthy companion to my wanderlust and ultimately chose Vietnam, a name so outlandish yet so inviting that I knew I had made the right choice. When I met her in late 2011, I realised the gravity of our situation. Here I was, a rookie traveller in pursuit of his dreams to a country where he didn’t know the language nor knew how he would get through his month-long date.
But our date went off so well that I have been dreaming of visiting her again as soon as possible. From the incredible food and beer at Hoi An to the beaches of Phu Quoc to the misty mountains of Sapa and my ever-biding love for Cafe Sua Nong (Vietnamese coffee), my journey to Vietnam firmly set me off on the path to wanderlust.
It was the friends I made in Vietnam whom I have visited on my subsequent journeys to France and Singapore. The lessons I learnt while backpacking there were so incredible that I have applied them to every other country I have been to since. I have had dates with places like Hong Kong, Kenya, Jordan, Madagascar, Thailand, Ireland, UK and many other incredible places around the world. I have spent my 20s in pursuit of my love for travel. Only now am I beginning to realise the true value of that first love affair with Vietnam and how it has affected all my future travels.
Not everyone is as blessed as I am to uncover the secrets of our world. I urge you today to forget everything else and fall in love with travel.
All you need – just like love – is a leap of faith.
This trip was originally published on CONSTANT TRAVELLER