Day 19 – Ha Noi to Home – End of the Road

3 05 2012

I slept like the proverbial dead. The beds in the AVI Hotel were large and comfortable, and incredibly the hotel and it’s surroundings were quiet. Of course I could not escape the inevitable rooster proudly declaring it’s presence to the world. I was exhausted but elated. I really felt like I had achieved something special, I felt privileged to have experienced so much. In fact I am still processing it all now, my tiny brain is overloaded with the trip.

Breakfast was a simple but delicious fried eggs and soft bread, and some orange segments. Plus some of the most delicious coffee I had drunk in Vietnam. Mr Vi and his wife were warm and hospitable hosts and I felt most welcome with them. I still had the dubious company of Sylvie so we decided to explore the local market.

The market was very small but was beginning to pack up when we arrived. Sylvie wanted to eat (again) so with her stomach rumbling off we went. The locals were very friendly and there was no hard sell, for the moment. It was mostly a fruit and vegetable market, but some stores were selling meat that had been outside in the air for some time. I didn’t want to think about what type of meat it was, or what was living in it ! Toan had told me that 98% of the dogs we had seen would end up cooked. it had made me a little more tolerant of their barking, as I knew what fate had in line for them.

We approached one store and the guy on there became rather animated. He was babbling at 200KPH in Vietnamese at us and of course neither of us understood a single word. Then another store holder came over with a bundle of clothes, and started literally shoving a dress onto Sylvie. It was really comical and they seemed to find it funny too. We knew that it was a ruse to get us to buy it ! Still it made an excellent photo opportunity.

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We were attracting quite a crowd, and I think the old woman now wanted paying ! Still we had no intention on buying the dress, so managed to escape intact. The village itself was quite small and quiet by Vietnamese standards, so a cheeky ice cream satisfied our sweet tooth.

The taxi was booked to take me to the airport at 1pm, and that was fast approaching. It was a fixed price of $5 to the airport, which is probably way over the odds but it was trouble free and worth every penny.

Vietnam still had a couple of surprises in store for me. The first one really tested my patience to it’s limit, and I did experience a sense of humour failure. Vietnam Airlines insist on you presenting the credit card used for purchasing the ticket. No doubt you have guessed where the required credit card is…that’s right back in England. So it took me giving every form of ID that I had to them, but that was still not sufficient. I had to purchase another ticket on the proviso that I would receive a refund on the original. Knowing how crafty airlines are, I don’t think that I will receive that refund. That could be the cynic in me though !

Sylvie and I parted ways, we had had good fun together and I hope she keeps in touch. Her plan was to find a guest house in Ha Noi, or worst case to Couch Surf. It was a rush to get to the gate as the ticket based shenanigans had almost made me miss the flight.

Landing in HCMC I wanted to blow the VND that I had left on tacky souvenirs. Again Vietnam has already got this covered, so I stocked up on wonderful pictures and the obligatory red star T-Shirt. The assistant in the store was wondering why I was carrying a motorcycle helmet around, so I relayed the past 17 days to her. She simply said “You crazy”, then wanted to try the helmet on.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="This is Red Leader"] This is Red Leader

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Her curiosity satisfied, I relaxed with a 333 beer before joining the flight. The flight was packed, and a guy sat next to me who didn’t know what deodorant or the anti social effects of body odour. Then someone behind me was sick, the noise of them retching actually waking me up. Then came the smell…there is something very unsettling about smelling someone else vomit. Especially when you can’t get away from it.

So, now I am sat in Istanbul airport waiting for my final flight. I feel kind of strange. I have lived a very simple existence over the past few weeks in an alien land with an alien culture. I think of what lays ahead for me over the next few weeks and it’s a complete 180 degrees. In fact it’s so diverse my head is spinning just thinking about it.

After seeing how a large number of people in Vietnam live such a hand to mouth existence, meeting and playing with orphans, and feeling the most free that I ever have…I am going to struggle to return to ‘normality’. Depeche Mode’s “I Belong Here” is randomly playing on my iPod.

Fate is screwing with me…

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One response

10 05 2012
travelersdish

Good luck with your re-acclimatization. I still look around me, and can’t believe that I’m “here” – wherever “here” happens to be, I suspect I’ll be feeling this way for a long time to come. I’m heading to Vietnam next week, and look forward to reading your old posts for advice. Keep blogging and let us all know how it goes heading back to the “real world”!

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