there’s a scene in ‘the sound of music’ in which maria is teaching the von trapp children to sing while picnicking on a rolling green austrian mountainside, the snow-capped swiss alps looming in the background. she tells the children that the very best place to start is always at the beginning. or something like that. so, heeding her advice, this is where i will begin. at the start. at the moment that made me realise that i wanted to soak up all the moments, each and every one.
this photograph was taken by me on my very first day in ha noi, vietnam, many years ago. not only was it my very first day there, but it was also my very first time overseas and i was alone. as things in life are want to do sometimes, my original plans to travel with a friend fell through leaving me with 2 options; postpone the trip for another time, or seize the opportunity and go. i decided to go, throwing (some) caution to the wind for the thrill of the new.
having been in the country for only an hour, i’d experienced the 2 most common scams to befall weary western travelers; i’d been hideously ripped off in my taxi from the airport and then taken to a different hotel. i was frightened and i felt foolish. a moment of panic set in before i started to yearn for the safety and familiarity of home. and then i cried.
so here i was, nestled in a tiny cafe located amongst the tiny laneways of the old quarter, clutching a cup of coffee and my lonely planet. i had 2 options; i could spend my time feeling frightened and not leave my hotel, or i could find the courage i felt i was lacking and just go for it. so i went for it.
the following month spent exploring that magical country gave me a feeling of complete joy, as only the freedom when traveling bestows. all i wanted to do was to travel the world, to see new places and have adventures. returning home, the tales of mishap and traveling woe that caused those tears to fall became memories of triumph, of learning how to be in the world, and how to be able to laugh at it all.
even now i still haven’t lost that magical feeling of discovering the new. and not just on journeys to far-flung places, but also in my tiny little corner of the world. because isn’t that the point of life, to cherish the precious moments we have in our lovely little lives?