I guess this is kind of my own “eat, pray, love” episode. Girl has heart broken, decides to go on an epic adventure and falls back in love with life. Cliche, I know, but this trip literally changed my life. Okay cool story, but why am I sharing this with you? Well 1, because it’s ridiculously therapeutic to write it out (you should try if you’re going through a rough emotional patch) and 2, because I know of so many other people who’ve found themselves in similar situations. You’ve been travelling or living abroad with your S.O and then suddenly you’re alone. Single, heartbroken and abroad. With little to no support system, no idea where to go or what to do. Well, I want to inspire you to think bigger and do something good for the soul to help you figure life out.
Let me give you a lil recap:
Last summer I motorbiked a whopping 1,990km plus some, from my home in Saigon to Hanoi. Solo. This road-trip had been a long-time dream of mine, but I had never considered driving solo across Vietnam. Let alone on my very own vintage bike. I’m just not THAT adventurous or whacky. But somehow there I was, on the 7th June strapping all my things onto the back of my bike and setting off from “home”, on what I soon realised was the best decision of my life (ok, maybe second after moving to Vietnam).
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Going through a break-up abroad
The plan had always been to do a Vietnam motorbike trip in 2018, but I was actually meant to do it with my ex. Just weeks before our set departure date, our 4.5 year relationship crumbled. It feels a bit lame to write it out like this, but I was utterly heartbroken; feeling lost, devastated and really struggling with being so far away from home. As if going through a messy break-up on the other-side of the world wasn’t enough, there was the added pain of all my travel plans disintegrating (we had a whole route mapped out for conquering the rest of Asia).
I remember feeling like salt was being poured onto my wounds when he set off, quite-the-thing, to do the motorbike trip we had planned together, with friends that had flown out to be by his side. It felt like my future had been snatched away for a “lads trip”.
Well, they always say you should turn your weaknesses into your biggest strengths and if there’s one trait I am sure to have, it’s determination. If he was going to do the trip I had been daydreaming about and planning for months, then I sure as hell was going to do it too…but in 10x better style. Lame, competitive-as human over here, hey hi.
So I picked myself up (not without a lot of crying to friends, and hella money spent on self care). I bought myself my dream motorbike. I scratched all the plans I had previously made, and started planning from the beginning but with a solo mentality.
Motorbiking Vietnam Solo
There’s something about motorbiking that is magical. I think it comes down to the journey being just as important as the destination; you don’t motorbike the length of a country just to visit a new city. You do it to truly experience the country. To get out into the sticks, where foreigners are rare, and life simple. My mum is going to roll her eyes so much reading this (and no doubt call me to tell me I’m turning into a hippy) but when you strip life back to only what you can carry, and transition your days of sitting in front of screens into watching the countryside flit-by, you really start to appreciate life more.
Hours spent driving country roads, music ringing in your ears, sun-shining down and local children waving as you pass. It’s impossible to be in this position and not feel grateful for the world around you. As my km count grew, my view of the world started to shift and become a little clearer. Vietnam is beautiful. The people are amazing. And I was so lucky to be exploring it on my own terms, at my own pace, on my own two wheels.
It was a newfound freedom that I’d never experienced before, and I don’t think I will ever experience quite the same. Ultimately it was this freedom, this ability to pack up and leave whenever I wanted to, to jump on my bike and scoot into a village that has never had a foreigner explore it, to order dinner through gestures and broken Vietnamese, to spend hours on my own marvelling at the views around me. These were the moments that changed me. And that I’m sure helped to heal my broken heart.
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If anything, I want you to come away from this post knowing that while going home might feel like your only option when you’re heartbroken abroad, it is not. The world is your oyster. I’m one of those super corny humans that believes the universe has set you up to receive what you deserve. If you’re going through a rough patch, something beautiful is coming your way. You just need to be open to seeing it and say yes to the adventures that present themselves.