Releasing the joy


London to Ho Chi Minh by train (and boat!). Day 62

Just spent five wonderful days in beautiful Yangshuo. Every day we’d wake up late, jump on bikes and spend the afternoon exploring the rivers, rice paddies and villages. It reminds me of the times in recent years when I’ve gone to a beach and spent days making sandcastles and re-channelling streams of water.

There’s something magical about cycling. Without fail, the moment I sit on a bike I’m transformed into a 12 year old back in the village in Wales. As a non-driver, cycling is the fastest I can go by myself, and my heart still races as I zoom down big hills with the wind on my face and the sun on my back.

I had actually forgotten how to cycle without using my hands until cycling back to our hostel a few nights ago (after a couple of gins). I just let go of the handle bars and handed authority over to my instincts. The same magic that somehow keeps kids safe while they climb trees and jump into rivers enveloped me, and I felt totally safe and totally free.

More and more I realise that we seem to have gone wrong while growing up. The laughter, games, running about, jumping on bikes… That’s not supposed to stop – it’s the very core of life. The wonder and questions and intrigue and imagination we feel as children is there to teach us how to live as adults, not to become a memory of some ‘golden age’ of childhood. It’s part of why we’re alive.

As we leave China, I feel so grateful for the laughter, silliness, adventures and risks that this amazing country and people have shared with us.

Wherever you are today, take a moment to daydream, feel the wind in your hair, look out of the window and notice something new, wave to a stranger, take a different way home… And never forget that the child that you were is still there, waiting to come out and share their wild life with you. All you’ve got to do is hand them the reigns.

Next stop: Hanoi, Vietnam — in Yangshuo.

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