For whatever reason, perhaps some vestige of earlier days, I woke up desiring to get two things done. First off was to file for my Vietnam e-visa online here. That requires some address in Vietnam so I booked a hotel room in Saigon on booking.com for three nights. I’m staying down in District One.
I needed the temporary address for the Visa and I wanted to be sure I get the visa before I do the more expensive thing which is booking the airline tickets. Since they state it takes three days now to secure the evisa I should have the paper in my hands by next Tuesday or so. Then I can book the airlines. It looks like I will do this:
- Siem Reap to Saigon 27 December. Few reasons I wish to go to Saigon. I don’t really care for the city and I’ve lived, stayed, wandered through it many times. My Vietnamese friend Tom lives there now so I must see him. I think three days is plenty to go wander around a bit and just feel the Vietnam feeling.
- Saigon to Hanoi 30 December. This is the important part to me. I get to almost be back for my birthday and we will get together perhaps at Gogi House for a late Korean BBQ dinner in Hanoi. Mostly it is the moving around and standing still in Hanoi and also being able to have the Tet Holiday at Van’s house and also visit Paul and Duyen but they will have their families there and Van welcomes me to her house like an Uncle. Oh… I am an Uncle :-). The other times are gonna be spent doing what I have so wanted for so long. Wandering Hanoi. Drinking coffee along West Lake. Having food at a number of places.
- Hanoi to Saigon 24 January. I’m not sure how this will work yet so perhaps I will combine this fly this and the next all in one day and get back to Siem Reap (home) on 24 January.
- Saigon to Siem Reap 25 January (or so). This is the alternate plan.
Now I sit in my hotel room in Phnom Penh feeling like I’ve started a little thing I’ve waited for over a year to do. Let these old retired guy feet touch Vietnam again. I don’t know that I will kiss the ground but I will let it wash over me that I’ve been able to come back again. Vietnam holds a special place forever for me. It is the place I would go when I needed either a break or the desire to go wander the country. This time I cannot just slowly travel like before and that’s okay too. I think I will come back again in 2023 and visit Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue. Those three places hold me close too. Da Nang though is the place always which seems to lock me in, let my soul and spirit feel this respite of all things, and then find those wonderful bridges so walkable. Hoi An lets me breathe and go so slowly to find nothing. Staying in a nicer boutique hotel some nights is like the warmth of the legendary Vietnamese hospitality just rejuvenates and makes me feel whole again. Finally Hue gives me history and passion and food! Truth be told the food choices in central Vietnam are so wonderful and unique.
This time though it will be the Hanoi food I really will want over and again. The Bun Cha at the 40k Bun Cha place on the corner where I lived before. The wonderful broth of life called Pho down the street where the wonderful lady always welcomed me with a smile. The Banh Mi just about everywhere. And the coffee! The little Goc coffee house with the smiles and hellos in Vietnamese. So many little things Hanoi gives me but so many will take a second trip.
So yeah. I am excited and I did get the evisa submitted and paid this morning and a hotel for cheap in Saigon. Next up flights. I had wondered I guess what would happen after 27 December. Would I find an apartment? Continue a stay in the long stay airbnb I have which the host already accepted if I want? Do some slow travels? I think Malaysia is going to come in spring next year. I so want to do a different circuit in 90 days than my last times there but a few constants remain. I must reach Kuala Lumpur because it is a spiritual and food and life thing to me. That’s one city that breathes it soul. I can miss Thailand completely and not feel like anything is remiss. I never liked going so I won’t go back and give my paltry funds in the land of smiles (when the money changes hands). Singapore is possible to see some old work friends that are getting older. I stopped getting older when I got ancient 🙂
But one thing does not change. Siem Reap is my home now whether I do apartments or breeze through or stay awhile in airbnb long stays. It is where I want to live and have friendships and even the warmth of a Khmer woman’s hand holding mine which does happen at times.
So a bunch of little things along with a bus ride in a few hours back home. I’ve realized as much as I would love it, Vietnam cannot be my home. It is this special place that refreshes and mobilizes and makes my senses reel sometimes but it is not meant to just hold me in a home grasp. As much as at one time I wished for nothing but making Hanoi home. I don’t really accept things but I do learn to live with them. So I just live with this and I’m so grateful to the Kingdom of Wonder for letting me live here as long as I want.
Take care all.