Motorbiking in Da Lat

verbal garbage – basically, a sum of questions and typical over-thinking by yours truly

I’ve realised that I draft thoughts in my head. Whole paragraphs of lines flowing through my mind – like I’m writing. Is that normal?

I got some knee scrapes from today. They stung a little, but that was all. It reminded me of the cycling in Hue, where I got similar scrapes. And the netball days, those knee scrapes. The white cotton bandage and tape, my younger self was sitting on the bench in the canteen in my PE shirt. All too familiar.

Ugh, I wonder if these will continue when I’m 70. It suddenly occurred to me how perilous my later (older) days will be. Falling wouldn’t be dismissed by an unbothered shrug then, it would mean being able to walk or not. Real consequences. Sigh.

We took the easyrider tour today with the hostel. We had a tour guide who would pillion one of us, and another motorbike available. One of us would ride, and swap places after.
After scraping my knee lyn suggested we swap places. I’m pretty curious – how would you respond? Would you swap immediately, or would you continue riding until the halfway mark and swap then? Would(n’t) the right thing be to continue? The Capricorn in me reared its stubborn head – I didn’t want to swap, it was but a silly scrape and swapping might leave a psychological fear of falling if I ever embark another motorbike. I didn’t want that psychological mark, and riding a little while longer would ease it out, I knew it would. So I didn’t, stubborn as I was, and I rode on, a little slower at the corners, and I didn’t fall again.
It was the right thing to do, if I do a quick cost-benefit analysis at this point. In another scenario there would be a version of Me with a fear of riding motorbikes alone, but that was not the Me in this version, as I am grateful and thankful and relieved to say.

Was it dangerous? Well, I’m still alive. Frankly, if I knew it involved weaving in and out of the Vietnam traffic I might have hesitated (a lot more) and opt to be pillioned. If I were to see a video of the biking route prior to my ride, I probably would have hesitated going on. It’s a series of overcoming fears though. A lot of things were mental – as I’ve come to realise – and in these years I wanted to overcome these mental barriers. I feared certain things, but I wanted myself to learn that much was mental. (Or was it?) Isn’t that really important? To test your limits? I think this phase of my life will pass. But as I live in the midst of my naive youth-hood I wanted to try, to try, to try again. To fail and to try again. In some ways I suppose it was symbolic – I wanted to overcome closet inner fears. I wanted to grow.

Was this growth? Is this necessary? Was this symbolic? Was it not? Why am I so stubborn? Or is this really being stubborn? This was, afterall, a mundane local thing to do – it didn’t mean much. Was it a mere desire to just do it? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. But I think I’ll eventually stop taking too many chances (was I taking chances?) – for now I just wanted to. (Do I really want that streak in me to stop? I don’t know.) Frankly, I have answers for none of these – everything is clear only on hindsight. Afterall, we make decisions only with all the knowledge that we have now. And decisions… they become stupid only when we live with its (undesirable) implications. How tricky.

I guess I’m in the midst of figuring myself out. As I will continue to be. And there are certain facets of me I was exploring – what I could do, what I truly couldn’t, what I was willing to risk, what I assessed as risk. It would be interesting to look back upon this post decades from now and be clearer about the person that I am now (that I was).

Some things aren’t to be teased with and I know it’s luck and luck and luck and a million possibilities could happen and I’m always, always grateful to be well, and perhaps eventually things may take a toll but I’ll always be grateful for life.

lines in my head as I rolled down the windy mountainous roads of Da Lat –
this was amazing and I felt alive. It was times like this I love, breathtaking times like this. All the mental images I told myself to keep – I told myself to remember, to remember, to remember this. At one point the cool breeze had turned a little colder and as I rode up the windy road and down again, the beautiful mountainous landscapes embraced me. I felt an immense indescribable joy – that I was alive. I felt freedom soaring through my veins. I was in my little bubble, some distance away from their motorbike, I had the wind in my hair – each time some giant truck rolled by or the perilous honking sounded behind me I quivered. A little part of me shriveled up and wilted each time I rode past them. I cussed each time I had to evade potholes (successfully, or not) and more than ever I felt a swell of appreciation for the roads in Singapore. You know these things, but it isn’t until you come face-to-face with it that you internalize its significance.
And for each giant truck that passed, each car that honked and weaved its way through, each 4-way traffic I successfully crossed, I felt a jolt of adrenaline that reminded me that I was alive.

the perilous (to me) winding roads
the roar of the gigantic truck
kicking up the mini-storms of road-dust that enveloped me as I rode on with my helmet
looking to my right and feeling overwhelmed by the mountainous view, the sun streaks peeking from the clouds
weaving within the traffic like I was local – I felt like I could live here – more than ever I felt acquainted with Vietnam, I was part of that chain of relentless motorbike traffic, evading strolling pedestrians and fellow motorcyclists, part of that rhythmic pattern I had only the opportunity to observe in my last visit

in the wind, in the sun, in the midst of the honkings

I was alive, and I’m happy to be alive, and I loved being alive, and I loved being reminded that I love life. It is this facet of myself that I hope will always stay within me, even when my hair turns grey and my metabolism slows down and my teeth are no longer aligned. At 23 this is what I genuinely think: I love life, I love life, I love life.

featuring: fresh scabs
my kneecaps will heal


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