Back from Vietnam (Alternate Title: Memories of Paradise, TheByteWeek Issue 5)

I’m back, and in case anyone’s wondering where I’ve been, then you clearly haven’t’ been keeping in touch with me and my various travels over the past two months. For all intents and purposes, I am no longer I Vietnam and I’m home in the lovely country of Canada. Apart from the obvious fact that I’m no longer abroad, a lingering details remains abundantly clear: I haven’t written anything (except for this article on the word “Like”) for at least a week. This isn’t good because I actually enjoy writing and when I don’t, I tend to feel a little lost and confused; not literally, of course, but figuratively, in the sense that I feel annoyed with myself for breaking a promise to myself.

The truth of the matter, however, is that I’ve been busy, and that really is the one and only reason for the delay. I mean it wholeheartedly when I say that I’ve had at least 25 important things to take care of this week, and the majority of them are matters that require quite a bit more than a few hours. The hilarious part is that I actually haven’t taken care of everything I was planning on finishing yet, because almost everything that still needs to be done hasn’t actually happened yet. No, seriously, a lot of what I have to do this week is preparation for the actual event.

Tomorrow, for example, I’m going to be attending an annual (and apparently global) Jazz festival in Port Credit (The Southside Shuffle) and I’ve been preparing all week for the moment. In fact, a part of me wanted to put off writing this TBW just so I could include tomorrow’s events, but the truth is , no matter how much I look ahead, I must write about my last few days in Vietnam at some point. Right now, I believe, is the perfect time.

As I said before, I’m back in Canada; I’m home, and I’m no longer in Vietnam (the country that I had been calling home for the past 2 or so months). Though, technically speaking, I’m also no longer in Nha Trang either and that’s an even more valid point to make. As always though, I must be allowed to commence my story from its beginning.

On the 2nd of September I traveled from Nha Trang to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) at about 9 in the morning, on perhaps one of the earliest flights I’ve ever had to wake up for. A quick aside: to catch a flight at 9:00 AM, one must be at the airport at 7:00 AM, to account for whatever might be happening outside the city (or country) and as such, even if everything goes smoothly and one checks-in on time, a passenger is recommended to arrive at an airport early (as one would expect from any mode of travel). Staying in a hotel, additionally, leads to certain events to transpire. For example, instead of waking up at 6:30 AM (like I had hoped) and catching a taxi to the airport in a mild rush, I received a wake-up call (no doubt because, earlier, I regaled the staff with other stories of missed flights; all due to my tardiness, I might add) at 6:00 AM. Additionally, due to the kindness of the managers, in addition to the amazing intricacy found within the confines of my travel details, I drove to the airport in the hotel car, instead of the Mai Linh Taxi I was expecting to call.

To tell the truth, the hotel car was far more comfortable than the Mai Linh cab would have been and the ride was not only smoother, but it was also a lot faster than I was expecting; I reached the airport at exactly 7:00 AM, whereas I was anticipating a slightly later arrival (around 7:30 AM or so). I suppose that just goes to show the dedication put into making guests feel comfortable when one works at a hotel, in comparison to the absolute state one must be in when driving a taxi. Another quick aside before I continue: due to a matter of bias, I’ve decided that I’m not going to name the hotel I stayed in. This actually isn’t just because of my own opinion, but just in case anyone might decide to try to recreate my experience; if anyone does try to have the exact same time as I did while they go to Nha Trang, I recommend making friends with the concierge, and not every single manager in their hotel.

In addition to arriving earlier than expected, my flight wasn’t as busy as I was anticipating, meaning that checking-in (both myself and my baggage) was a quick task with very little difficulty. At this point, allow me to fast forward a few hours to, say, around 10:00 AM of that same day where one will find that I landed in Saigon. After claiming my baggage and hailing myself yet another taxi, I found myself in yet another hotel, waiting for my room to be prepared; luckily, this didn’t take too long and after a few more minutes, I was finally in my room, ready to get my day started. Or not, because after reaching the bedroom, I decided to take a quick nap; a kind of beauty sleep to accommodate for the lost time in the morning.

As anyone can imagine, I woke up later then expected, at around 2:00 PM feeling both groggy, hungry, and incredibly thirsty (a very powerful and weakening combination, that any traveler will tell you is a major downside to the experience). Another interesting thing to point out is that September 2nd,1945 is actually Vietnam’s Independence day from France. On this day North Vietnam was formed and it wouldn’t be until July 2nd, 1976 that North and South Vietnam would once again be a unified country. In fact, in September the Vietnamese celebrate independence day, while in July, the Vietnamese celebrate reunification day. This is important to note because when I arrived, almost every shop was closed, but almost every single restaurant, bar, and cafe was open and filled to the brim with people (both locals, and foreigners).

This is even more interesting to note because not only was I able to quickly cure my thirst and hunger, but I was also informed of the fireworks that would be launching around 9:00 PM meaning that I would have to spend my day twiddling my thumbs, trying to think of something to do. Being a fan of fireworks and general celebration, I made a mental note to free 9:00 PM in my already incredibly hectic schedule. I spent my evening in an absolutely fantastic restaurant eating an amazing steak and, quite hilariously, I missed the fireworks. Though, I say that I “Missed” them when, in reality, what happened is that I took my first bite of the well-done piece of meat only to realize that explosions were going off in the background. My first thought was war, I certainly can’t deny that, but as soon as I realized what I was missing I had to force myself to not run out of the restaurant and to the square where the display would be on full view. So, I suppose the summation of all of this is that, yes, despite my planning and lack of other commitments, I missed the fireworks. Though, in my defence, it was a good steak.

The night ended after I went back to my room and fell asleep (yet again), and the rest of the next day was spent packing and getting ready for the voyage I would have to make later that night. Originally, I had planned to write an article for each airport that I landed in, but after taking off from Saigon, there really wasn’t much else to say. The article I wrote from there is below:

So here we are; the trip’s over and I’m heading back to Canada. Well, I say it’s over but it hasn’t even begun seeing as how I’m still in Saigon’s international airport.

It’s difficult to say how I’m feeling right now, psychologically, of course (physically I’m feeling fantastic; napping for 4 hours does that to a person). On one hand, I’m excited to go back to Canada, but on the other, I’m going to miss Vietnam. Or rather, I’m going to miss my time spent here; everyone’s told me that I’ve done very little, but frankly it feels like I’ve done everything. The people I’ve met have really made the trip; an Indian Naval Commander, a wine supplier and his protege’, two French chefs, a German SCUBA Diver, a Moroccan-Jewish Restaurant owner, a Norwegian Hotel Guest, an Australian couple, a Vietnamese tour guide; suffice it to say, I’ve met many people and shared even more stories amongst them all.

Annoyingly enough though, it doesn’t feel like two months have passed by; everything feels like yesterday and every action or thought I’ve had has compacted itself into a nice long vignette on constant play back. The memories are flooding through and beyond me; some more prominent than others, though I’m still feeling relatively fantastic. I suppose all I need to do is wait for the purified air in the airplanes to hit me before I really feel bad, though I digress.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t really feel like I’m leaving; yes, I’m going home, but at the same time, I’ve been at home for the past two months. No, seriously. My time in Vietnam was very vacation-like, but at the same time, it wasn’t really a vacation so much as time spent among family in a new home. It’s unfair to say that I don’t feel conflicted about leaving, but it’s not a sadness that I feel, but a sense of peace and tranquility. It’s actually quite annoying and I can’t wait for it to go away, but at the same time, I’m really quite happy about it. I don’t like the word but, for all intents and purposes, I feel relatively normal and, for the first time in a long time, that’s perfectly fine.

There really isn’t much else to say, I suppose. The flights were relatively bearable, and despite (but most likely due to) my tiredness, nothing else happened the day I landed in Canada. In fact, I went to sleep at 6:00 PM, a few hours earlier then my usual bedtime.

Since this is a TBW, I’m allowed to not have a “Moral,” so to speak, but I would like to end on this note: I had a fantastic time in Vietnam, and it was a pleasure to meet everyone that I met. Do I dream of going back? To tell the truth, throughout the week I did catch myself thinking a rather casual “In Nha Trang, this would be cheaper” but I think the memorable part is everything that has happened and, while looking to the past is a brilliant idea, for now, I will look to the future. With the past in mind, I would like to hereby declare the end of my summer, and to wish everyone a fantastic fall, and winter. I realize the date’s might be off here, and there but, then again, the date’s usually are.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

  1. Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

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