One of the biggest struggles both Mandy and I share is the inability to say No to people. Our lives at home were one big constant stream of action. From late nights at work, to family get togethers’, to squeezing in as much time as we could with friends, we were finding that we often were not paying enough attention to ourselves. It’s natural to want to please people and the best way to do that is to say “Yes, let’s do that!”. In your mind’s eye you feel that to say No would injure someone’s feelings, make them think you are a terrible person, and in general add strain to your relationships. But in the end the person you are saying No to the most, is yourself. Saying no to your needs and wants. Going on this trip has been an emphatic Yes to ourselves. We want to use this time to focus on self-improvement, Mandy in school and myself in basic programming. Alongside this personal growth we hope to learn and embrace all the unique culture and experience we will see on our journey. Part of that journey and understanding is when to say No and when to say Yes. This happened in real time during our first experience in Nha Trang.
After departing from Phan Thiet via bus, we arrived in the evening to Nha Trang. The bus stopped in a giant lot that was off the main road with no real station or taxis in sight. We were both tired, frazzled, and unsure of what our next steps would be. We had been using this app Grab (think Uber for Southeast Asia) in Saigon but we had no such luck in Phan Thiet; maybe Nha Trang was different? We didn’t know. Immediately as we get off the bus, a gentleman approaches me who I assumed was with the bus operators. Perhaps he was there to help connect us to our homestay? He asked where we were staying, I showed him the address, he says sure follow me! What luck! Mandy and I follow him to where his friend and 2 motorbikes are waiting for us. Wait what? But before we could think, confused and scared of saying No to a person we literally owed nothing to, we hopped on.
Keep in mind both of us are wearing 35-40 lb. packs on our backs and have small backpacks on our front; it was precarious to say the least! Off we go zipping in and out of traffic and I have to say it was glorious. The city was awash with electronic light, and as we crossed a bridge it felt like we were on Rainbow Road for all you Mariokart fans out there. It was amazingly terrifying and exhilarating. But wait Matt, this all sounds positive why should you have said No?
My driver gets separated from Mandy just as we start approaching our homestay, and this is where it starts to become clear maybe we should have said No. He says we are here, and my wife is just down the road. Mandy has the location on her phone, and I have the money. I can’t confirm we are here, and she can’t pay the driver. Commence panic on my part. I don’t see her, and he asks for the equivalent of $20 for each of us for the ride. Considering a taxi with a car would have been $4 for all of us, it was a giant scam. I paid him my $20 but said I had to go talk to Mandy before I would pay for her. My guy drives off and Mandy is surrounded by a couple of guys who are saying she is at her location, I look in her eyes, we aren’t at our location.
At this point we would like a private conversation without these guys in our face. We try and map to our location and its another 10 minutes away by motorbike. We decide to bite the bullet and pay them the other $20 so we can start planning our next move. We are frazzled, minds blown from the ride, and desperate to get to our actual location. Then the unexpected happened, 2 of the men we just paid came back and said for no extra money they would bring us to the right location. Do we say yes to this? Seems to good to be true, just like the motorbike ride adventure we just embarked on. They seem honest. We have paid them $40 bucks, that means they should do the right thing? We take a chance. On the bikes we go again zooming through the city. We lose each other again. He pulls over to call the guy giving Mandy a ride. She zooms by us, hair blowing in the wind, thank God. We take off, pull a u turn across traffic and finally, we arrive at Eighteen House Café, our Homestay. Our French hosts meet us, and immediately pity is on their face. They can tell we have been through the ringer and they graciously show us the apartment space and then let us collapse on the bed.
Should we have said Yes? Should we have said No? The smart answer is No, but with that answer comes missing out on experience. Missing that feeling of adrenaline as we zoomed through the city. We said Yes and learned. Sometimes you have to say Yes to travel a path that might not be as easy or cheap but translated to a feeling of complete electric life.