This part has been hard for me to write. I’m back in Ireland and my heart feels torn.
I’ve never felt this way about Vietnam.
In 1998, the first time I came back, I was just seven. I don’t remember much, but I remember not finding any connection. It was just a holiday to me and I was just a child.
In 2010, I was 18. It had been 10 years since we had been back and it was my first time as an adult. I remained pretty disinterested in finding a connection and distracted by the holiday element, there was still: nothing.
This year was different. For a couple of reasons:
- Firstly, this blog, which gave me a reason to document each experience thoroughly, take photos and write.
- Secondly, I was sharing this experience with the two people I loved most in the world: my Mom and my partner.
- Thirdly, I wanted to learn.
Like so many people out there, I have a fear that I won’t get to experience certain things with my Mom before she dies. She’s currently in fantastic health with not a bother on her, but it’s still a fear I live with.
Vietnam is a part of both our lives for obvious reasons and since 2010, I’ve realised how important it actually is.
The connection has been created.
Now, I miss the unmistakeable smell of incense on Hang Quat; bargaining fearlessly for the best price in the market; eating Michelin-worthy food on the streets; practising Vietnamese with the locals…
I miss seeing the people exercise on Hoan Kiem lake; watching locals clink their beers from kegs; the scooters crowding the pathways and streets; the silence of Bai Tu Long Bay…
I even miss crossing the street – an art that any tourist learns quickly.
When we were in Vietnam, we were immediately catapulted to upper-class citizens. Despite not having a lot in the Western world, it was a bizarre feeling to be “rich”.
I felt like I wanted to give back to the country where I was born – a feeling that I had never had in my 25 years on this earth.
A wave hit me when we headed to the airport. An overwhelming wave of sadness that’s still with me today.
I don’t know what to do. But I’ll be back. Soon.