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Beyond boundaries.

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 17 November 2010 | Views [1215]

Disclaimer: The following journal contains sexually explicit material, adult themes and drug taking. It may, or may not contain the words 'fuck', 'tart' and 'freak', a reference to the smell of poo after eating Indian food, a farting contest and details of an encounter with another randy jelly fish.

That disclaimer's connection with the truth is strenuous at best, but you are obviously a deviant as well if you are still reading. One may think that this journal is not going to be about the average experience one has on the road. Any traveller would know nothing could be further from the truth. Drug fuelled parties, toilet talk, passionate affairs, forced philosophising from fuck-ups or financial ruin. It's all part of the appeal. Yet, contrary to my normal modus operandi of late, drugs of a non pharmaceutical nature have played no part in my Vietnam experience.

I brought a pouch of tobacco from Thailand with me in case joint rolling was called for at some point. Like a lot of the Dutch, Uma punished the stuff when she was younger, seeing its pointlessness before adulthood and being staunchly opposed since. Two weeks ago, I looked inside the pouch to find a rolled, and untouched joint. Leaving Thailand with that in my possession was quite possibly the dumbest and most dangerous thing I have done without even realising it. One joint won't get me to the gallows, but I could have paid for it in one way or another for the rest of my life.

I celebrated my stupidity by burning the evidence. Halfway through, the world was no funnier than it usual so I pulled the joint apart. To earn itself the name, and the consequences of possession, a joint must contain some marijuana. That it did not, meant I was indeed smoking a cigarette and visions of my sex life being confined to prison inmates turned out to be an interesting, but pointless waste of mental energy.

As for pharmaceutical drugs, my eyeballs lost their blood red menace after a week of anti-biotic baths, Valium helped me sleep in cramped bus beds blatantly not designed for sleep and Uma had consumed enough drugs to have more side effects than symptoms. Without any particular plans, and yet to grasp the exchange rate, I decided to buy some Viagra in Thailand. The friendly fondler in Dalat had proved that I didn't need to, but I brought some just because I could.

Fearing the best, Uma and I stocked up on supplies in case leaving the room was not an option unless I wanted to rob a bank without a gun. I followed the directions of the surprised but smiling pharmacist and started with half a pill, and 2 Black Russians. It sounded like a risqué combination, and set the tone for the night the way I wanted. Perhaps disappointed it was a one person ride, Uma decided to set her own tone. An argument ensured, and I had a hard time selling tickets when the carnival came to town. I also spent the next day hunched over or having to sit down every time someone walked past in so much as a bikini.

I fear that all my journals may have painted Uma in a rather unfair way, highlighting as I have, all the woes that seem rather unique to her experience. And no journal would be complete without at least one such description of woe. With a right foot she must have once used to kick Lady Luck in the head, another biting nasty punched well out of its weight class by sinking its venom into her big toe. Being unable to find the offender, I suggested amputation as an alternative, but bed bugs had ensured one more welt was not going to make too much difference.

Sharing a bed seemed to mean sharing bad luck as the biting bed bugs have made a banquet of my body as well. Almost a week after a tonne of jelly fish found out the hard way that they weren't suited to life on land, I thought it must be safe to venture into the water myself. Seeing that someone, or something, had snacked on my skin already didn't stop some jellyfish from looking at me like some long lost lover even though we were strangers yet to share a formal introduction. Without standing on ceremony, it went straight in for the kill, using my knee like some inflatable jelly tart from the ocean sex shop. Only being half a man without visible reproductive apparatus, and even less of a jelly fish it seems, the stinging effects of the violation barely lasted more than an hour.

What will last a lot longer is the impression that Uma has made. That we have only taken two meals apart in over a month shows how well suited our travelling styles are. A few arguments were to be expected, but causes are always trivial and readily acknowledged as such. That is not to say that we are not both aware how much a role the circumstances play.

The fake world of the travelling bubble distorts the usual boundaries we define personal relationships by. Travelling alone frees you from the constraints of everything you use to define yourself back home. Travelling with another person does likewise, yet it blends two distorted world views together. The results, as can be seen in almost every journal from Vietnam up to this point, are often more interesting than the lands being travelled through.

You get to know someone so much quicker in such conditions. One month together constantly is like three or four months together under normal circumstances. You either forget or choose not to go off and do all the little things that make you who you are. Visiting your own private world where humans do the things they would only do in front of another human once they shared a deep mutual trust. If nurtured outside the framework of 'normal' social interaction, this trust can distort into unusual understandings of each other. This invariably seems to lead to a farting contest.

Uma broke the ice on this front, or melted it more to the point. A shy giggle and a feigned look of innocence lead me to believe it was a freak accident. I laughed at the impropriety of it, and to make Uma feel comfortable if she was really embarrassed. Unfortunately, she wasn't. She is so good at it, she'd win trophies and stuff if they were there to be won. Some studies once claimed men had sole dominion over farting titles. Uma disagreed, and formulated a strong argument in the way she knew best. The day of the contest started with the loudest and proudest announcement to the world that its supplier was most definitely not a lady. For duration, determination, variation and exemplification, I'd rank it in my top five of all time, and the competition was effectively over before it started. Final score, 21-13.

The reasons for this could be partly attributed to Indian food. Such blame has been apportioned since spices were first discovered, but it's endured purely because it's truth is self-evident. Clogged to the point of considering using dynamite as a laxative, nothing cures constipation quite like a curry. And nothing cures sloth quite like an odious alarm call in a small bungalow that consists of a bedroom, attached bathroom, and little to block the flow of air between the two.

Despite this, or because of it, it is nearly time to part ways with Uma. Again, I am made aware the way my life impacts upon my relationships. Another persons enjoyable company is brought to a sudden halt thanks to circumstances, rather than choice. It is the bane and benediction of travelling. Meeting so many interesting people often forbids you from spending too much time with any of them. It seems my bachelorhood is ensured until I embrace a more settled lifestyle. That won't happen while I pay mere lip-service to the idea, and so thoroughly enjoy the way I currently live my life.

Tags: beaches, food, friends

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