|About the person who asked for the
Back in April this year, I was sitting in a funky "sidewalk" bar in My Khe, Vietnam writing an email to a friend who was on his way to Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
|My correspondent wanted to know if
there were any beaches and volcanoes near Jogja. So I was
working on this when... out of the blue - a woman started
asking me about Sarawak. She had noticed I was wearing a
shirt with a Borneo motif as she was walking by. So she
pulled up a stool and we talked about Sarawak and the
rest of Borneo for a while. And it became clear to me
that she was not Vietnamese. Asian, yes, but not the
features and manners of a Vietnamese. Not Thai either. I
can tell the differences now and was thinking she might
be Malaysian or Indonesian. And she was... academic...
she had a University accent. So eventually I asked her
where she was from. And she said "Jogjakarta".
So I asked if there were any beaches and volcanoes
nearby. And she wrote down a list - which I photographed
and attached to the email I was writing to my friend who
was on his way there.
And then... when I told her I was from Canada,
she said; "Oh... I've just come from Hamilton,
Ontario"..... and explained that she's working on a
PhD in Religious Studies at McMasters U.
And at some point - when she realized I was a native English speaker and seasoned traveler - she asked if I could proof read an article she had written about tourism. It's called "Managing Heart in South East Asian style:- A thought on Fusion of Hospitality Business and Traditional Hospitality". It was extremely interesting to me. She says it was "inspired by the genuine friendliness of Da Nang" - and she had written it for the Huffington Post, where she's a regular contributor. This is her latest. "Understanding the Islamic concept Inshallah through Psychogeography" [I attached the tourism article]
Now some of this seemed a bit incredulous to me. After all... I've been cleverly scammed in Indonesia - and she's Indonesian - and started this interaction - - and I'm still happily naive yada yada - so I "fact checked" her. And found her c.v. and publications and other stuff that confirmed everything she said.
|So we met again the
next morning to discuss the tourism article and had a
great conversation. And over the next 6 weeks or so we
met for coffee and "brainstorming" pretty well
And in the process I learned a lot. This is a very interesting person.
And then... a few days before I left Da Nang, Tini went south to Da Lat to help start up a newly opened restaurant, then to Cambodia on a visa run, and returned to Hanoi, where she took a barista course and now works in a fancy coffee house. (Coffee is a big deal in Vietnam - a custom adopted from the French, maybe - very good coffee - everywhere). And she has established another learning centre in Hanoi. And all along we've been maintaining a conversation over messenger.com. Online chat. Pretty much daily. When she's waking up and I'm going to sleep.
There are more oddities to this story - like how Tini got involved in trying to sell a pizza joint in Da Lat to a buddy in Cache Creek, but I'll leave it at that.
And now... I'll be
going back to Vietnam. Oct 20.
But she talks about going back to McMasters - and some kind of Buddhist thing in Nepal - and other ideas. She considers herself to be Buddhist now. And she's a wanderer.
So... I have an interesting friend at
my first destination of this journey.