On Wednesday, June 1 at 11:30 pm I got off.
Today is Sunday June 12. I am in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for the second time on this trip. I've completed 6 of the 10 plane rides this adventure will have in total.
I have some thoughts.
- I'm travelling with Sue, who sleeps 10 inches away from me every single night. And with whom I am sharing a bathroom. We eat all our meals together. We sit in companionable silence, reading our books or working on our laptops most evenings before we fall asleep. And every morning when she wakes up, she checks this blog to see what we've done. "You haven't posted anything to Pixnprose," she'll say. "You're letting people down. Marj must be disappointed." I'm trying to be In The Moment at all times, and fully experience this country while I'm here. It's hard to Live It and Record It at the same time. Hats off to travel bloggers who manage to update their blogs daily. Sue? Marj? September? Mom? This post is for you. With love.
- If you have the option, choose Premium Economy on overseas flights. Seats are wider, and recline further. HOT cloths are presented to you before the meal (that you selected off a menu!) is served. And the food is amazing.
- If you're going to have a total of 10 air plane rides in 18 days, you stop having deep conversations with God at every take off and landing.
- If it's your birthday on your travel day and your friend says she wants to do something special for you to celebrate the following night, suggest to her that a cupcake would be lovely. Unless you're OK getting naked with a young Vietnamese woman you've just met in order to have a massage with her in the 'couple's room'.
- If you're taller than 5'2" and weigh more than 100 pounds, the robes and disposable bikini panties that are available to massage customers will be a tight/non-existent fit. Vietnam is a nation of petite trim people. No where is that more evident than in the changing rooms of spa salons as you realise than none of the garments/slips of fabric supplied will cover those bits you'd prefer no one would look at.
- Staying in business class hotels with a seasoned business traveller is highly recommended. Air conditioning. Turn down service. Complimentary bottles of water. Air conditioning. Comfortable beds. Bedside 'have a good sleep' notes. Chocolates on pillows. And showers/toilets behind frosted glass walls (as opposed to clear glass.) I cannot stress this enough. There are times when you just want a smidgen of privacy and that frosted glass panel is all that keeps you sane during those moments.
- If you are a tall (5'9") woman with flawless white skin or an overweight woman with very blonde hair, you'll be photographed repeatedly by the locals as if you're The Curiously Strange Women of The Travelling Canadian Circus.
- When you book into a hotel that has a free spa treatment each day of your visit, say no to the mud wrap. Or say yes, and prepare to have mud smeared in private places. Surprisingly, with extra attention spent on uh, the boob area, both during and after the application of cool sticky mud in that air conditioned room, right under the vent that is blowing cold air on your chest that is covered with cool sticky mud being applied by someone who likes to tweak and caress. Having this procedure done in the couples room with a teensy tiny Vietnamese colleague on the bed beside you introduces a whole new level of intimacy to the business relationship.
- Massages are a pain-filled, stress-filled way to spend an hour of your life. If you feel like you're going to break down and sob when the masseuse surprises you by jumping up on the table and sits on your bum while digging her elbow into your shoulder blades, think on happy thoughts. And spend those 60 minutes chatting with God about your kids.
- Vietnam is a hot place to be in June. It's like swimming through hot wet air the second you go outside. Your body will break out in a sweat and all conversations will include a running update of the speed in which the river of back sweat is trickling into your underwear.
- Shooting an M16 is cool. The stories about the war in Vietnam are not.
- Nothing makes you appreciate your good, good life more than seeing the utter poverty that little children are born into in this place.
- Use the traveller's diarrhea medicine your doctor prescribed already. Seriously, what have you been waiting for? Do not wait til Day 12 of the vacation.
- Earplugs and apologies go a long way to ensuring everyone gets sleep. So do little blue pills. Maybe read the label first. Jeesh.
- Buy a bigger purse. Hats are stupid. Kindles are not.
- Contribute to the local economy by employing random people you meet on the street to do your laundry and peddle you around the city. Give tips generously.
- Prepare to feel all the feels.
Photos to follow eventually.