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. 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 for me and I was just a child.

The second time 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.

Coupled with the feelings of uncertain identity, I’ve been left in an empty place. 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 unmistakable 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. A wave hit me when we headed to the airport. An overwhelming wave of sadness that’s still with me today.

Truth be told, I’m feeling quite confused and lonesome, something that I’m trying to work through with quiet reflection.

I don’t know what to do. But I’ll be back. Soon.

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