I stopped into my favourite Internet cafe to check email, and I was hugely relieved to see Crystal and Jimmy are OK!!! in my inbox. Crystal is the colleague I hadn’t heard about or from (per my last post), and apparently she and her husband were right in the line of fire. They spent four hours clinging to a tree yesterday before making it to safety. They’re now at the US embassy, trying to figure out how to get out of Thailand. Anyway, a big whew!
Crystal claims to hate hugs, but she’ll have to endure a few when she returns to Singapore.
Many travellers here in Vientiane are desperate to hear from friends or relatives who were in the affected areas, and although I’m overjoyed that my friends are safe, I am very sad for those who were not so lucky. Right now the estimated death toll stands at more than six times the number killed in the September 11th attacks. A natural disaster is a much different thing, of course, but I make the comparison because I have so many friends in New York City. When events like these throw themselves into our lives, it makes us realise how interconnected we are as human beings.
Finally, thank you my friends and family for you concern about my own well-being. Fortunately for me, the most harrowing and life-threatening experience I’ve had on my trip so far was largely self-inflicted: I rented a motorbike today to expand my exploratory range.
My parents will be thrilled to learn it came without a helmet, a clutch or working turn signals, and road rules here are loose to say the least. To make a left turn onto a side street, for example, the general strategy seems to be to cruise in the oncoming lane for a dozen or so meters, then cut diagonally accross the oncoming lane of the side road – swerving between the cars paused there if necessary.
Anyway, It’s the end of the day. I survived, and I’ve returned the motorbike to the shop it came from. Rest assured, I’ll stick to foot travel and public transit for the rest of my time in Vientiane. I won’t make any promises about Vietnam.
The bottom line is, celebrate and cherish life. Make your moments meaningful and you won’t have to keep your eyes peeled for tsunamis and renegade tuk tuks.