Sunday, 14 August 2016

Last days in Vietnam: 25-28/4/2016

The last few days in Vietnam were a bit of a mixed bag, like trying to kill time in the worlds largest waiting lounge with choice of things available to do, but with one eye keeping a check of the time to make sure that the departure gate is still within reach. My flight back to Bangkok was only now a couple of short days away and Lan was off back to Danang the day before that,  it was now down to how to make the most of our time as appropriate.

Early the on Friday morning, Lan went off early to sort out some personal stuff, leaving me to head off to  find the nearest branch of Highlands coffee to get fuelled up on Vietnamese coffee and a rock hard Banh Mi before meeting up once again at mid day. Lan was rightfully desperate to go get on with the day, and despite a slight miscommunication that initially had us heading the wrong way across town to the museum of History, we were soon back on course and heading up towards the correct museum that Lan wanted to take me to. It was getting hotter by the step and I could feel my head starting to burn up under the afternoon sun. I cursed my hat for leaving me when I got off the bus a couple of days before, As I followed behind Lan as she powered on without struggle I cursed the lack of shade and lack of liquid. I cursed the pavement and my foot. I cursed at anything I could because I could, whether it was justified or not. So imagine the joy that was had when we finally arrived after a good half an hours walk at "Bào tàng lįch su' Viêt Nam" (Vietnam Military History Musuem) to find it was shut. Fridays it is always apparently shut.

As Lenin watched over us from the park opposite, we peered back over the wall towards the inaccessible museum that now lay just beyond reach whilst sinking an ice cold diet coke pertained from the shop we had stumbled past just before. It was obvious that I was annoying Lan with my behaviour, but I was having a hard time trying to explain that it wasn't anything to do with what she was doing, more the fact that I was just seemingly worn out from the months of travel, the injuries and now the heat. It wasn't one thing that was causing me to behave like I was, and it certainly wasn't down to Lan trying to make the most of our time left in Ha Noi. Personally I was grateful for all that she had done and what she was trying to do. It just wasn't coming across that was at that particular point in time.

Just a couple of streets to the south of our location (and open on a Friday) was the "Temple of Literature", a place of learning founded in the 11th century and home to the first National University of Vietnam. The grounds lead you along paths through several well procured gardens, under old arches and around large manmade ponds before you reach a large courtyard. Here you can find examples of early writings on stone tablet held up by stone turtles, with the turtles uniquely distinguishable in style according to their age and dynastic era that they fall into. It's a place of tranquility in the centre of a bustling city and well worth a visit if you are passing. By the end of the time spent there I think Lan was beginning to forgive me for my earlier tantrums. It's sometimes tough to cross over the small obstacles and mis understandings that that can exist between different people and different cultures, but it can help a lot if you can refrain from being a bit of a dick in the first place. I'm still trying to get to that point.

The rest of the time left was spent looking for gifts or souveniers back home, either side of watching Disney's re-telling of "The Jungle Book" in the nearby shopping mall, neatly giving me a cultural insight into the cinema experience that exists in yet another country (people just talk and walk in and out all the way through) at the same time as wrapping up my Vincom Mall Tour 2016. It's a simple thing to be part of, but was nice to experience that even though the first language of the audience was not that of the audio track being played (English with Vietnamese Subtitles), the emotional responses were the same throughout, despite the obviousy linguistic barriers.

It's nice to know that despite the many differences you might be able to find in those from different cultures if you choose to do so, we some things that make us all the same.






The next day Lan was gone and maybe, a bit weirdly it was not as emotionally painful as the first time that we thad said goodbye just a few short weeks before and there didn't seem to be that sense of finality to it all despite it being no different. The Day after Lan had gone, I returned to Bangkok myself in order to prepare for the final flight back to Blighty. I now had only 5 days to lose some serious weight from my baggage and somehow I had managed to pick up yet more stuff during my last few days spent in Vietnam.

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