Solo Doesn’t Always Mean Alone

hanoi farmstay homestay

At the farmstay in the countryside, the owner’s son Chệc sat next to me by the fire he built for me and passed me his phone with an English translation: “are you sad here alone?” I looked at him, smiled, and shook my head no. I put into the translator “I like nature and want to disconnect.” He read it, laughed, and nodded.

 

We spent the next 30 minutes talking through the translators on our phones. His sister walked over with her 3-year-old baby girl wearing footie pajamas who was apprehensive to smile at a stranger at first. She didn’t warm up to me until she saw my phone background: a picture of a pug wearing a tie-dye shirt and sunglasses. It was then that she started to like me and understand that we were not much different. She pointed at it and smiled. We all sat there by the fire as I showed her and them pictures and videos of pugs dressed up and dancing.

 

It’s amazing how much we can communicate without talking at all; I could not understand what they were saying, but I knew everything that was funny: laughing at the footie pajamas, the little girl shaking her head and not wanting to go to school the next day, when Chệc pointed to the fire with the little girl on his lap and joked about throwing her into it and she laughed and tried to squirm out of his grasp. The adorable innocence of a child is always humorous; their laughter is contagious.

 

How could I feel sad during moments like these? Loneliness is an indicator of missing something more than just the presence of others. I am always alone but never lonely; the associated sadness with a feeling of loneliness is not a feeling of true sadness, it’s a lack of connection. Not with others, but with yourself. I travel alone but am never truly alone.

 

When I think about it, I felt more alone when I was home surrounded by people I knew. I’m beginning to think I’m more comfortable in the presence of strangers. I was more comfortable sitting in bed and not socializing than I was going out. I feel more myself with the people in the streets of a foreign country than I did sitting in the same bar at home as I always did. If I want to find someone to talk to here I am surrounded by both locals and travelers. My family and friends are a tap away on the phone. I am not sad here alone. For once in my life, I feel as though I’m exactly where I should be. I feel like I am alive.

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Now this is a view I could wake up to everyday. I decided to book 4 nights in Northern Vietnam at a homestay in the middle of, well, nowhere. As of right now, I’m the only guest. I can hear the chatter of the family, the constant song a rooster makes, the laughter of children, crickets, and the occasional motorbike strolling by. I only just arrived to the homestay today, the sun has set, I’ve eaten, and thankfully, I’m pretty exhausted. I have met so many great people on this journey so far… and I’m literally only 4 days into the entire thing. I don’t think this could have started out any better. I am so unbelievably grateful to be able to experience all of these things. I’m a bit torn between wanting to disconnect completely and wanting to share every minute with those who are following my journey. Tomorrow, beyond posting stories, I’m going to try to keep off my phone. I’m in the middle of nowhere and I think I can walk in a straight line for a pretty long time without getting lost (let’s be real, I get lost going down my own driveway). Do you know that feeling you get when you don’t have your phone? Like you’re missing a limb? I hate the tension of not having my phone; it’s a bad feeling, but knowing that I have that dependence is even worse of a feeling. I want to rid that tension for good. I don’t want to feel like I need to be connected all the time. Regardless, I have a few days here… to sit in nature and spend time with myself and saying hello to locals. Anyway, Instagram is turning into my blog, apparently. I’m going to shut up now so I actually have something to blog about tomorrow. How long have you disconnected for? How’d you do it? Throw your phone into an ocean? Doesn’t seem like a bad idea sometimes.

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One Comment

  • Sarah

    This post and your thoughts are so wonderfully written and could not be more true!! It’s always hard for me to explain to people that I want to travel alone and that they don’t need to feel bad for me because I’m not lonely. It sounds like you’re having a wonderful adventure so far!

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