Tonsai Flow

This is a story about change.

This is not a story that reminisces on “the way it used to be,” nor a story that criticize “the people on top” (if looking for a politically charged story, click here).

Instead, this story reveals how people can embrace change through flow.

This is Tonsai’s story.


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In the last 7 months…

In the last 7 months, I have gotten to know Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. In the last 7 months, I have experienced some of the best times, hardest times, and most inspirational times of my life.

In the last 7 months, I have been in one minor motorbike accident, one major car accident, eaten various organs from various animals, posed for countless selfies with Asians (I can’t imagine how many Asian Facebooks display my face), produced body odors that resemble nasi goreng and chicken curry, acquired and conquered staff infection from an infected rope burn, been transported to a hospital in a wheel barrow/cart, watched a little girl get hit by a car (I was a passenger in the car), watched a kangaroo get hit by a car (again, I was a passenger), endured Bali belly once and Lombok belly twice, and found myself completely broke of money for the first time in my life.

(just a few selfies)

In the last 7 months, I have surfed waves in Bali, Lombok, and Australia, skiied on Australian snow, learned to ride a motorbike, learned (and still learning) to play ukelele, played piano in an Aussie airport, hula hooped in countless bars and beaches, fire hooped in a few bars and beaches, taught tourists and local children hula hoop tricks, driven on terrifying 4WD tracks in the Australian outback, worked as a mathematics tutor, full-time nanny, olive farm laborer, and farm animal care-taker, visited and meditated in Hindu and Buddhist temples, learned to cook Slovakian food, scuba dove, swam, snorkeled, and surfed on the most beautiful ocean landscapes I have ever layed eyes upon, seen kangaroo, monkeys, elephants, manta rays, wombats, komodo dragons, octopus, sharks, reindeer, wallaby, wild boar, and hundreds of exotic birds and fish, cuddled and kissed baby wombats, hiked through countless forests, mountains, and rice fields, sang “Hotel California” nearly 50 times, received a healthy number of beach massages, and learned to speak a few basic words in Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Aussie.

In the last 7 months, I have met people from countries that I didn’t realize existed, learned about global issues that are not covered in the news, made friendships with stray Asian dogs, cats, monkeys, and cows, made friendships with humans from around the world (some of which may last my lifetime), fallen in love with an Aussie-Slovak, and, as cliche as it sounds, learned a whole lot about my self.

Ready for the best part?


My journey is not over.

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Lucid Dreaming in Sapa

A 10-year old girl uses a machete to chop bamboo while carrying her 1-month old sister on her back and keeping an eye out for her 2-year old brother.

We want to take a photo of her, so we ask our guide, Su May, for permission. In Vietnamese, Su May tells the girl that she is beautiful, and asks if we can take a photo. The girl says she doesn’t know, and continues chopping. My mother proceeds to film the girl, then tells her she is a movie star and hands her 10VND. Her face lights up and she casts a smile. She is a warrior.

A black Hmong elder sings a wise tale while attending to her garden. We stop to watch her, and she watches us, all while humming her song. We approach her, and she shows us her hands, which display deep, dry cracks filled with her village’s soil. She tells us she wants to look at us, just like we want to look at her. She analyzes our hands and touches our modern clothes. She tells us we are beautiful.

Are we living a lucid dream?

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Introducing: Bizarre Vietnam 

You may have noticed that I’m not so good at keeping up with this whole blog thing so far. My vision was to provide regular updates on my travels, but my mind has been so involved in getting to know this strange and beautiful new world. I hope that the following information will give you a little insight into what has been going on in my head…

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“So you’re gonna be a hobo?”

An employee at REI asked me that the other day.

I told the guy that I wanted a light weight, sturdy shoe, because I was going to be backpacking around towns and cities for a long time, and I didn’t want to lug around a heavy and bulky pair of shoes.

Guy: So you’re gonna be a hobo?

Me: Am I gonna be a what?

Guy: A hobo.

Me: Oh, haha (fake laugh), hobo, yea, I guess…

I guess we Californians automatically assume anyone who is walking around town carrying a 40L+ pack on their back is a hobo.

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