I can’t believe this is happening to me. I searched and went back to everyplace I’d been since I last seen my wallet. Don’t you fucking panic, I told myself and keep-clam searching. It’s only thirteen minutes, sharp, since I last opened my wallet and bought a scarf from a tribe girl. I was sitting on the porch in front of some store that sells trekking shoes drinking beer with a friend, when these two girls came in and start the conversation. My friend’s been living here for two days and already bought from her already, but I’m a new guy, who never bought anything from these street selling tribe ladies. If you, by any chance, had visited Sapa, Vietnam, you must have heard this certain conversation, ‘Why don’t you buy from me?’ Because it happens when you buy something from one girl and another will keep bugging you to buy her stuffs too. ‘You buy from her but not from me’ or ‘If you not buy from me, I’m not happy with you.’ I don’t know who’s taught these girls to speak like this. They haven’t go to school anymore and now they’re full time doing their job.
I was pretty drunk, part of this circumstance, I’ve blamed myself. When I finally liked the girl who talked to me and tell me stories about her village, which is really fascinated, so I bought her scarf and do bargained only a little til the price makes sense and she said she would give me the bracelet for free. You know when it comes to freebies, one shouldn’t hesitated a moment. I’m unaware of my wallet in that moment and swing (Yeah! Pardon me, I was drunk) my arm to her so she can help me tie the bracelet. And there’s another tribe girl who’s said, ‘If you don’t buy from me. I’m not happy with you.’ Standing nearby but I neglected her. I was so stupid.
It was cold and my friend doesn’t have a proper sweater for the cold so we say good bye and I went back to my room hoping alcohol could helped me sleep. But I knew at the very first moment when I opened the door into my room that my wallet was gone. I pissed off, ran back to the porch where nobody’s there. No wallet. I asked the girl who own to store but she said she saw nothing and only stayed in the store. So I skyped my parent and ask what to do. First my aunt told me to use the spared money I have in my backpack and go to the embassy in Hanoi. And go to the local police, which I only did go to the local police and their lunch breaks are from 11 – 2 pm, just unbelievable. They made me write this essay about when and where and how I lost my wallet. I was like how’s anybody supposed to know when they’d lost their wallet once it was gone. And they asked me what I want them to do.
Did I want them to go searching for me wallet?
I said, ‘No’
I just wanted to let you know, in case, someone’s found it and return to the police, which I didn’t count on it. The odds are so slim that I’ll get it back. It’s not money that I’m worried; it’s the cards and documentations. After that I reasoned not the go to the embassy. That’s silly; they can’t help me find the wallet. I only waste my money on the train ticket if I do that. I knew that there’s Western Union that I can use so that the solution. I used the spared money I have in my back for three days until they wired me the money.
I’ve never see the girl who’s said ‘I’m not happy with you’ since.
I remain ambivalent because I’m also loved this town, so much. Remember (or have you) read the previous entry I’m wrote about how I love this town and how it has nothing to do with me. Now guess what? The town has a thing to do with me and now bit me in the ass. Made me busied finding how to get the money and told my parent what to do because we’ve never use Western Union before. I may be smart to kept another money in another backpack. But it’s Thai currency and it’s unacceptable even the bank couldn’t help me exchange into Vietnam Dong or US dollar, even when I told them this is the only money that I have and I’d lost my wallet. A wry smiled, from both misunderstood my language (they don’t even conversational in English and my pitiful situation) is what they gave me to show how nice and generous they were.
For one thing that still pisses me off; right up to the moment I’m writing this, is that I should buy something from that girl too. That mean I could re-check my wallet. And I wouldn’t lose it. But what happened is what happened. I can only learn to be more careful from now on. Be thankful for what I have because now I have the laptop so I can keep in touch with you guys and my parents and my friend while I’m travel. Even the camera which the magic of owning it has gradually vanished and to the point that has entirely gone. After I lost my wallet, I think about what if I didn’t lose it. Everything would be normal. I’ll never be cautious or careful like this. I would go out and accepted free weeds from locals in the local bar. I might be ripped off when I get stoned. And I’ve never smoked any kind of weeds (if there’re many kind of weed out there) before and I don’t know what will happened if I’m stoned. It’s meant to be this way. Everything was meant to be the way they were. I have no idea what I’m gonna do if I lost my passport and all the money, but I’m sure can find the way out if that, too, happens.
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Hey!!! I’ve come to found the place where the city has left me alone, at last. Where the people are nice and welcome because, I think, they’re craving for works and, yes, money. And all the tourists who decided to come here are mostly in group or kept to themselves. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m also looking forward to keep things to myself through the end of my stay in town, which for now I think it would takes two weeks.
In the highland, northern Vietnam, where I find this lovely town, I was hooked in the first moment at the arrival. The town set around the valley that you can see the very beautiful scenic rice and farming terrace. Off that, there’s nothing to do except you want to shop for some over expensive imitated hiking equipment. And for the unpredictable weather in the highland, I think, better stay in the hotel and keep up with what I’ve promised myself to do. (Or what I’ve been procrastinating.) Like writing and it’s the perfect weather for a writer to sit at the café and started to write, it’s not too hot and not to cold. Most of the time that I stayed here it’s misty and drizzled. I sat with my laptop in the café of the hotel with has this table with the warm sofas on both sides near the mirror. I admit that I just stared blankly outside to the empty street when it’s rain and occasionally there were tribes ladies who walked through the cold rain and smiled at me hopefully I would buy some souvenir from her, which I did. I have a cat who’s been slept on this sofa all day. He woke up and jumped to sleep on my laps while I enjoyed my coffee, which is better than Starbucks (and I loved Starbucks) and cost me less than 1 dollar. When we closed enough to become buddy, I named him ‘Cat’ so people wouldn’t think I’m trying to steal the cat or doing some stupid dump shit they didn’t get (such as speaking to the cat.)
The point is when I’m arrived. I knew that I would easy to get overwhelm especially when entered new city or town. But for this town, I didn’t get overwhelmed by the beautiful rice terrace on the way up here or the urge to climb the highest mountain of Vietnam immediately. But, regardless to all of the above, I did rent a motor bike on the first day. The day that I arrived was sunny. So I didn’t hesitate to take the advantage of it. The ride was extremely fun, even though I was by myself and more or less scared that I might run out of gas on the way back to town. And after that day, it was misty and rained for four days.
Mostly I decided not to let anything happened to me for a while, because if it happens I will want to write about it, about everything that happened, even the slightest things. Call me sentimental but I am in such a vulnerable position. I even doubt that I made myself through this or tumblr or the post on tumblr from people that I followed made me easily to get hurt, emotionally. I think that’s good, nevertheless. It means I can appreciate things deeper than I thought I would before. Even now I usually cried at something I’m not usually cried at. Like when I see old couple holding hand or a tribe ladies walking through the rain with that genuine smile. I’ve to hide my tears under the Ray Ban.
Now is the time to make you smile, I believe, I didn’t write this to show you how pathetic my life is so you could feel better. No, but I wanted to share how I feel and what I’ve learned in the language that I have to think twice before writing it. It may contain a lot of mistake, uncorrected grammar and other things. I hope that you can forgive me.
And smile because you have just read my thoughts.
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When I was on the train from Hanoi to Sapa, on that first day before I even realized how underwhelm this town making me. I met Heather, a generous, former school teacher who left her husband home in NSW, and went to travels with her friend. She’s teach art (and, I believe, still does) and I studying architecture. She gave me her sketch books. She’s written her wishes for something I’m occasionally scared of. Future.
I’m so afraid of ‘what’s next.’
What if I fulfilled my dream of speak fluent English and write English correctly?
What’s the next thing I’m gonna need to accomplish?
I’m afraid that it’ll never end. That’s also what makes the life mean something. It’s really depressed not to do anything. I tried, honestly, it’s equally hard to stay still, not cause any trouble, or try not to overthink about dying or growing old.
“Oh, you’re a sentimental young boy.”
That’s what she’s said. And will say after she’s read this. But another thing is, she told me, “There’s the saying ‘Those who can do, those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach, teach arts or gym.” I don’t buy it. Because I think, those who can teach is those who can do and those who give.
It’s my time to be a receiver. I have no idea what I’m gonna do with my new sketch books, but I’m take it anyway. I know it sucks when you truly wanted to give something to someone but then they refused.
Thank you for giving me the sketch books Heather. Without you I don’t think this will happen.
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