Here I am in my former glory, sitting on the side of the road in Vietnam only 52 km from home.
This was before selfies. It was actually taken with a camera that had film. And look! I’m wearing a watch so that will tell you it was before I had a cell phone. I haven’t used a watch in many years. And my Nike sandals. I miss those. I even remember how they used to feel.
To my left is my trusty old Honda Dream motorbike. It had no registration papers. That’s a long story I’ll have to save for another day.
But just looking at this photo got me thinking that I was actually doing research for my novel in this picture. I just didn’t know it.
All those windy hills I sped over, all those rice paddies, all those smiling faces and boys on back of the gray-haired water buffaloes – all of those taught me how to write about Vietnam. I treasure each and every one of those experiences. And even though I haven’t been back in 5 years, I think about it often, as if you couldn’t tell from my writing.
My new novel, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, would be nothing if I had never witnessed the beautiful country of Vietnam from the back of my small motorbike.
So writers, remember that whatever you are living through now is just a slice of research for a future book.
And readers, I suppose you can expect some books about Malaysia sometime in my future.