Her first memory is twirling. She is twirling and dancing and it is at her parents’ party. Her dress billows up and down, and she throws her arms up in the air getting lost in the music and the movement of her dress. Her long beautiful summer dress.
Her parents love to invite all of their friends over for music and food. So much food. Nem ran, banh khot, huge platters of bun bo nam bo, ga nuong. Her bà gives her a banh bao and tells her to behave.
She laughs, and taking a bite of the soft steamed bun, runs barefoot through the kitchen, out the back door, through the crowd of uncles standing on the porch smoking, and into the backyard.
She spins and laughs and looks up to the sky where the moon hangs heavy and pregnant, and it is that moment that she is in love with life and all its mysteries – even if she doesn’t quite understand it all, but right then and there, four-year-old Larissa Duan decides to take life by the horns.
Author’s Note: So, I was re-watching the first season and seeing Nick in the hospital had sparked ideas to write a fic on it! I really hope you guys enjoy this. It’s kinda pre-apocalypse (obviously lol), but yeah! It’s cute! Thanks to my babe @lovelydob for proofreading this for me!!
you made it to this plot of overgrowth in the middle of the afternoon. the mayor and the carpenter you’ve just met seem kind enough and tell you to get some rest. inexplicably, you do. you were not tired, but it is morning now.
you arrived on a spring day. you woke up on the first day of spring.
the rooster’s crow wakes you every morning at six a.m. sharp. you do not own a rooster. nor does marnie, or any of your other neighbors. you try not to think about this.
people here are forgetful. they tell you the same stories over and over again. you smile and nod and never mention this to them. something compells you to stay silent. you do.
between the hours of two a.m. and six a.m. mayor lewis visits your farm. you do not know who he is selling your items to so late in the night or how the money ends up in your wallet the next morning. despite this, he never seems tired. one summer day he asks of you’re growing blueberries on your farm. you are. he should know.
the memory of your grandfather will never be seperated from your farm, but it seems to fade the further you travel away from his grave. he is there. he is waiting.
you fell asleep in your house. you woke up in your bed. you did not get a letter. you live alone.
there are monsters here. you are brave enough to fight but weak enough to lose. when you wake up you have lost your items, your memory, and something else. something indescribable. you feel empty.
you stare at your reflection in the mountain lake. your eyes are wide and unweilding. you never develop wrinkles around them. you do not know how long you have been here. it feels like centuries.
the people around you hault when you bite into your meal. they resume once you are finished. they do not look at you. they just move on.
you know the names and faces of everyone in town. you do not remember anyone from the city. they are gone, now.
abigail sits in the graveyard. she swallows the amethyst you gave her and walks home. she does not look at you.
you do not know who the old mariner is. he only appears in the rain.
the train never stops here, only passes through.
sometimes you wonder why you are so strong. you lived in the city your whole life but do not remember anything about it. you do not question it and put more stones in your backpack.
the bus route to calico desert is out of service. the bus route to the city no longer exists. you can never go back.
penny tells you she finds the rain on the roof of her trailer calming. you go inside one rainy day. you do not hear anything. she smiles at you. her eyes are like mirrors. she will not let you in.
you watch tv for hours every morning. it is still six a.m. when you turn it off.
Hi James! Love your photos. I've had the itch for backpacking but never really knew where to start. So many questions, don't know how to narrow them down. Anyway, here it goes... I'll try to narrow them down: Where do you start planning your back packing trip? Did you have to book hostels/rooms far in advance? How did you keep daily costs at a bare minimum while still enjoying? Did you literally bring your backpack everywhere you went? Did you go solo or with a friend? That's all for now :) Thx!
Hey Lillian, thanks, I’m glad you like my photos! Also glad you’re taking an interest in backpacking! :)
1) Planning: There really isn’t much to the first step, I just think about places on earth that are particularly interesting or mysterious to me, somewhere adventurous if possible. Other factors to bear in mind are: is it cheap to live/travel there? (Asia is 1/10th the price of Europe for example) Is it a country that will be completely different in 10 years? (Tibet is changing so rapidly and the culture is disappearing so it was worth visiting as soon as possible, and the same is happening in other countries).
Having got a vague idea of where I wanted to go, my next step is to buy a Lonely Planet travel guide on the country/countries I want to visit. Somewhere like South East Asia or South America will have one big guide for all the countries together which was my bible! This can give you some basic info and pique your interest in certain cities/sights that you may want to visit. You can then plan a route around these. Generally I’d go to the map at the front of the guide and use a pen to trace a South to North or East to West etc route around the country.
2) Accommodation: I never really book accommodation in advance. Maybe I’ll book the first night in a hostel once I arrive if I arrive late in the evening. However I’ve always felt you have more freedom if you’re not tied up to a booking schedule. Rather than saying, oh crap I only have a short time in this awesome city because I have to be at my next hostel in 3 nights time, you can instead take your time in places you enjoy, or leave places you don’t enjoy without being penalised and charged by the hostel. Obviously this extra freedom comes at the cost of having to be a little more pro-active in finding accommodation when on the road. You’ll often find that fellow travellers can recommend great hostels in cities that they’ve been to, and you may end up finding some gems this way. Otherwise, check out the Lonely Planet guide, head to one of those hostels, if it’s full they can always direct you to another hostel nearby.
In places like Asia, particularly in low tourist season (monsoon season), don’t be afraid to haggle the price of a room, you can get some amazing bargains! I’ve even managed to nab myself a free room on occasion, as long as you agree to drink at their bar! :p
3) Costs: Cost should never be an issue if you’re willing to rough it a little bit (though this is half the fun). Indeed, minus flights, living and travelling in a cheap region such as South East Asia is far more cost effective than my daily living expenses here in Australia! For the price of one Perth coffee you can eat for a day in India.
So the main points to remember:
- Fly as little as possible. Asia or South America are big places, and getting around takes a loooong time. But don’t give in to temptation and take a flight, as this will wreck your budget if you do it too often. Take buses, boats, trains and take the public ones rather than chartered tourist ones. You’ll see more of the country and experience more of its culture as you meet locals.
- Sleep in dorms. Dorms, while often a bit noisy, are what backpacking is all about. Not only do you save money, but you meet other travellers. swap stories and travel tips, talk about secret gems you may have found and forge new friendships and travel groups. The cheaper hostels tend to attract the most interesting, hardcore backpackers who have really been around. If you’re really tight on cash, you can even seek out boarding houses that locals use, and the Salvation Army runs bunkhouses in many major cities in Asia.
- Be as rough as possible. Obviously you still want to have a good time, but you shouldn’t be afraid to get dirty and sweaty. Forgo air conditioning and take a fan room. Eat street food whenever possible. Try to resist going clubbing and go to a local bar instead. Saving money on these things means you can splash out the really essential touristy excursions (Halong Bay boat trip, Machu Picchu etc.). It is challenging, but that’s part of the experience, and when you return to the decadent, capitalist West you can appreciate just how lucky we are! :p
4) Backpacking Solo: This is one of the questions I get asked most often, whether its best to go alone or in a group. It’s not an easy question to answer and I think it depends on the kind of person you are.
I always travel solo. I like to think of it as challenging myself, having to rely on my own wit to get around, find food and shelter etc. It’s an amazing feeling heading off on your own into the unknown. Nerves and anxiety and excitement, knowing that you won’t see a familiar face for the next 6 months or so. Also, perhaps most importantly, travelling alone forces you to meet new people, whether locals or other travellers. I’ve met some incredible characters on my travels, and made lifelong friends, something that may not have happened if I’d stuck to a group. People worry that they’ll be lonely, and yes there have been times where I was scared shitless, in the middle of some new city at night and I’d wish I had someone to just do it all for me. But these situations were rare, and in hindsight, they make the best stories! :p Normally, you will spend little to no time alone, particularly if you’re travelling on well established backpacker routes (Australia, South East Asia etc.). There will always be other backpackers you can befriend and team up with to take the next leg of your journey then, when the time comes, you can part ways.
However this isn’t for everyone. The sad truth is, certain parts of the world are not too kind to solo travellers, particularly women. Many of the women I met in India had uncomfortable stories about unwanted attention from local men. I had women asking to travel with me just to have a male presence to keep the local men at bay. It’s a shame, but it’s true, and you should always try and feel safe and secure.
Bringing a friend from home has its risks too. You never really know someone until you’ve been living rough with them. You’ll soon find out if they’re a clean freak, drama queen or scaredy cat. I’ve seen close friends fall out over a backpacking trip and never speak again. When you’re travelling in a group, you’re tied to what the group wants to do, you don’t have the freedom to just get up and go wherever and whenever you want.
So yeah, I’d say go solo, if you feel brave enough. It’s a shock at first, but you’ll soon find your feet and some friendly backpacker to show you the ropes. Or you can pay for my flight and I’ll come with you! :p
Apologies for the long response, but I’m glad you asked these questions. I hope I answered them well enough, and I hope you now go out on some awesome adventure and take lots of beautiful photos! Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have. Cheers!