I think birthdays when I get old are meant for retrospective blog posts. Like…
where was I last year at the same time?
Well, last year, I flew to Can Tho Vietnam for my birthday. Lily, An, Tran and I went to a BBQ place where we ate and teased Tran all the time. It was one of those wonderful moments.
We sat and talked long after the food over more food and more beers. I think I got to see my Lily one more time after that. Perhaps that was in Hanoi.
Wonderful times though spent with such dear friends. It seems like more than a year ago.
The last year has been one of impact, desire, leaving one love and finding another. Hanoi was particularly hard to leave. It felt like a piece of me had been removed. I wondered on the flight to the US if I would ever find another thing that would offer something different. The new thing would never replace Hanoi and it should not even try. Instead it should offer up new moments and let me find my way to live. Leaving then was some sadness. Reaching the US was not some accomplishment. But I did do things I had wanted or desired to do. I rode Amtrak routes I had never done before. I visited 5 cities going east along the California Zephyr Amtrak train route. I gained an appreciation of just going slow on the Amtrak. Never wanting or wishing the next place when I had Denver or Chicago right there. Coming back west, I changed things a few times but ended up taking the west bound Amtrak all the way to Los Angeles and then flying back to get the flight to Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
By way of diverging only a moment but it is my right. I’m almost a birthday boy. In 2019, I bailed on Manila and took Kuala Lumpur for Christmas and then Saigon for New Year. KL is a wonderland of tastes, things, people. Christmas Eve at the Nu Sentral Mall was hearing old time Christmas songs, seeing Malaysian children wishing with Santa, finding my time going down until I would then fly to Saigon for some time again. I guess I ended up visiting Saigon way many times but often I would land and then get on the limousine (think bus or van) to reach Can Tho. Maybe I should have just lived in Can Tho. I would end up going there to be with Lily often. Saigon for New Years was sitting in a Corner Cafe with a draft beer and watching the motorbikes defy traffic lights and race the streets like some abstract Bruce Springsteen song. I always felt sitting there that Saigon was just about to go crazy but I had to wait one more moment to see it than what I had. All that being said, I am not a big fan of the city. It is too much of many things and not enough of others.
The year before that I was in Cambodia and I vaguely remember walking around these buddhist temples hearing Christmas Carols from the PA system. Kampot seemed like a wonderland to me then. Hearing Bing Crosby sing a Christmas song walking around the city seemed almost surreal. I was there also for my birthday just to bring things all the way around and I would go for a burger, fries, and beer. I loved the little city of Kampot. It just seemed to have things I loved. Food, some expats, wonderful Khmer people that made all the time more worthwhile.
Now is now
But now I find myself in Merida Mexico. Someone told me this city was too busy and too big. Well, you are wrong I hate to tell you. Merida is a beautiful, sensuous, living city with the most wonderful people and food choices that really set it apart. I will return again in March I believe to stay again. Puerto Vallarta had a lot it offered up but Merida crosses way over the line with wonderful tree-lined streets, beautiful colonial buildings, beautiful old homes. So I will celebrate my birthday this time here. I have been told a cake is involved and my Airbnb Host is making sure I have a happy day. But really, each place I was at this time of year and the people involved made my life seem so much more rich and tapestried.
So there you have it. A few years in the retrospection bucket. Moments spent here and there. Experiences defined and defining. What else is there to go ask for dear reader? Moments, memories, and experiences. I have been rich in them. Thanks to everyone and everyplace. I miss you my Lily. Your smile and those mysterious, dark, sensuous Vietnamese eyes. You forever being there for me but now at a distance. KL you are my dream city. You have all the parts. Saigon? Well, Saigon… You are a tempest in the world’s largest teapot. I can take or leave you but finding that little bar down the alley serving draft Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and flirting with the cute Vietnamese waitress gave me all the right moments. Kampot you were this wonderful and smiling town where the Angkor beer and the food and the walking always seemed to bring it all to me. Not a big town but a town with spirit and a wonderful market area where expats gathered for food and beer, talking the visa runs, moving to find the next place. All that is back in moments past. Now it is Merida. Beautiful, sexy Merida with the Yucatan shining each day.
Cheers! Happy Birthday to me.