As a Bulgarian, there are few places I visit where I find people knowing a fact or two about my country. Most people in the West have a rather negative image of Bulgaria: poor, corrupted, ex-communist. Many people don’t even know where Bulgaria is on the map. But Vietnam surprised me with its positive attitude.
The most touching conversation during my trip to Vietnam was in Hanoi. A man with amputated legs was selling goods on the streets. When he saw a tourist approaching, he started chatting me up. Then came the question “Where are you from?”. I answered I’m Bulgarian and his face brightened up in a huge smile. He called to someone to bring a chair for me and asked me if we could just talk. In fact, we didn’t really talk. I was listening and he was pouring his heart out. He told me he had many friends that immigrated to Bulgaria because of the war. And that some of them stayed there forever. Stories followed and I have forgotten them for the most part. But I’ll never forget when he said he was simply happy to talk with me. As I’m writing this now, my heart is still full of gratitude for such happenings on the road.
See I’m not a travel blogger. I don’t wear fancy clothes, stay in expensive hotels or get paid to get a good shot for Instagram. In fact, I’ve been travelling in Asia with the same small bag of clothes since 2015. So when a connection like this happens I know it’s coming from the heart. I know it’s meant to be. I know it’s a blessing, the magic of travel. In every moment I’m on the road I stay alert because travelling means anything can happen. And when “anything“ manifests itself in the smile of a stranger, I can’t help but feel love. In love with life. That force that turns curiosity into action. Action into adventure. Adventure into eternity. And I know. I’ll forever stay a nomad.
All pictures © Alex Kovacheva. Pictures taken with Nikon D810 + Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm 1.4G in Vietnam in 2016.