News and Travel

I received my bound galleys of The Sea Queen this week. These are uncorrected, meaning while they are copy-edited, they don’t have the final 100+ changes I made to the galleys. They are sent to reviewers and book buyers. It’s always exciting to get my hands on a bound copy of one of my books, even though it’s not the official, beautiful hardcover version.

In other news, I was away in Thailand and Vietnam for ten days, and I’m only just starting to recover from jet lag. Thailand is 12 hours off from New York, which is the absolute hardest time change to make. Night is day, up is down. Not only is my sleep off, but I’m hungry at the wrong times of day, ravenous in the middle of the night, but not hungry for my dinner.

Still, it was a wonderful trip. I had some time on my own in Bangkok while my husband went to a conference. I got a lot of writing done, ate delicious food, Thai and otherwise, and visited the Jim Thompson house.

After the conference was over, we flew up to Chiang Mai to visit with some friends who live there. Chiang Mai is a wonderful laid back city. In weather, and in parts of the culture, it seems like a Thai Southern California with aspects of Brooklyn.

I think one of the reasons I had such a nice time on this trip is that I didn’t go in with any expectations. I wanted to see friends and get writing done. I saw some sights of Bangkok, but I didn’t have a checklist of things I needed to see. I had my trip, not a trip out of some guidebooks. A lot of what I like about travel is not about seeing particular sights, but just about being in a place. Because of that, it was fun just to go to a Bangkok food court, or listen to the conversation at a friend’s dinner party–to experience my time rather than rush on to the next thing.

I think I don’t do that enough in my life in NYC–my days are always about checklists of things to get done, and appointments to keep. I rarely sit in a coffee shop, or in a park and simply experience life. I listen to podcasts to drown out life, and when I don’t I get annoyed at my fellow NYers.

Part of this is the difference between vacation brain and work brain, but part of this is the location. I went to a fitness park in Chiang Mai to go for a run and get some other exercise in. Here in New York I am not a fast runner, but at that park, I was one of the fastest. Everyone else was just trotting along, talking with friends, keeping an easy pace. It made me feel silly about my constant pushing myself to be better, faster, stronger, more productive.

It was also nice to be 12 hours off from the US news. Even when I did go on Twitter, it was pretty quiet. Not many people update between 3am and 6am–my afternoon there.

For reasons too convoluted to go into, we had to leave from Hanoi, so first we had to get to Hanoi, which was somewhat challenging. My knitting needles were not allowed to go in my carry-on on leaving Chiang Mai (a first!) and then once we got to Hanoi, there was a long visa and immigration line. Then we only had the morning in Hanoi before an evening flight to begin our journey back to NYC.

Some scenes from around Hanoi.

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But even that was nice. The weather was chilly in Hanoi, making a bowl of Pho that much more attractive. We ate Pho and Bahn Mi and random fried street food. I had some amazing Vietnamese coffee (it’s incredibly thick, and then they put sweetened condensed milk in it–delicious). We went to a temple, and put our heads in random shops. By the time we had to leave, I definitely wished we had more time in Hanoi, but I also felt like I’d gotten a nice little taste of the city.

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