A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Take me to the river. Drop me in the water. Or drop me in a little boat anyway.
Everywhere I go I am attracted to rivers. When I walk, when I travel by road or by rail I am drawn by the living rivers. More rivers than seas. I am a little bit scared of the sea. A healthy fear of an alien environment. When I look at a map I am fixated by the rivers. Where they go. Where they come from. Who lives on them. Who works on them. Who has travelled on them.
I’ve spent a few days breathing in the river in Hoi An. If there was one travel thing that I would choose to focus on it would be rivers. It would be public transport on rivers, transport that’s either alive today or was alive in the past.
I dream of navigating each river I see. I stare off bridges and out of train carriages trying to figure out how far up that river you can travel. Where does it come from? What do they bring down that river?
Every river has an entirely different personality. Each time I meet a river its as if I have never been there before. It is constant change.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus.
I have lived on rivers in England and Ireland. I have tried to live on rivers everywhere I have lived. The incurable romantic in me still wants to.
New job in a new town? I check the river; is anyone living afloat? Can I? Will the family join me?
Just visiting a town I will seek out boats to stay on. If I cannot stay on one I will try to find out if I can travel on one with the people that travel on it every day. A harbour will do. We are based in Melbourne now but I wish I could go to work each day by boat. Like Sydney. Just the process of crossing the water each day on the way to and from the endless life or death chaos of emergency medicine or intensive care medicine helps me calm down.
I managed to work from a home in a boat in London for years. Which is probably why I managed being in London for years.
It doesn’t have to be a home. Just a few hours on a boat brings my busy little mind down to a more workable pace. The separation from the land and all that crawls upon it is calming.
In Hoi An my hotel had a very modest but complimentary boat tour across the river. It took almost exactly the same route as the public ferry which costs just a few thousand dong.
The day was beautiful. The ferry put-putted along to the Boat Building Village on the far bank. I highly recommend getting across to this side and watch how these wooden boats are built and repaired.
If nothing else getting on to the river gives me another way to enjoy the sunset. Which I can enjoy from anywhere but I am in an entirely different headspace when I get to watch it from on the water.
Take me to the river.