As I read the message on my phone, I felt the room spin and got really lightheaded. I couldn’t tell if it was from the news or the rocking of the boat. Either way I was alone and had no one to console with. I read it one more time.
Dad: grandfather passed away ?
I immediately called my dad to try to make sense of everything. He answered and I could barely hear him. The junk boat was in the middle of the Halong Bay and my phone had one bar of reception. It made one of the hardest moments even harder. Through the static I could still hear the pain in my dad’s voice. I just kept repeating “I’m coming home, I’m coming home.” I don’t know how many times I repeated my words but finally my dad acknowledged what I said. The conversation was short..mostly because we could barely make out the words we said. Fuck you phone connection.
Getting that kind of news while alone, halfway around the world, and stuck on a boat in the middle of nowhere has got to be one of the hardest things to go through. I just wanted to be home to see my parents. To make sure my dad didn’t have to go through this without his kids. My sister was on a business trip in Boston as well and both of us were trying our best to get home ASAP.
My emotions were mixed with pain and logic. The pain of losing my grandfather broke me down. At the same time I tried to remain strong to plan out how I’m going to get home. That means looking up flights and planning my trip back into Hanoi. With one bar of service, I couldn’t do shit. Websites wouldn’t load, messages took a minute or two to deliver, and I couldn’t make calls. I was fuckin frustrated..and felt useless.
Luckily my oldest sister helped me out. Both of us are experienced travellers so booking flights on the spot is nothing new. We started planning out the flight back and our messages back and forth was actually kind of comical. My messages would take 2 minutes to send so sometimes it would be staggered and not make sense. In the end, we got everything planned.
The next 48 hours were an absolute blur. From Halong Bay back to Hanoi was a 4 hour trip to my hotel. From there, I flew out the next morning to HK with a 5 hour layover and then home. All the other times I have traveled there’s a chance to anticipate when I’m going home. This time it was so sudden that I had no time adjust. The 48 hours were grueling and coming home to a stressful situation didn’t make it easier.
But seeing my dad and how happy he was when he saw me made it all worth it. I can count the times on both hands where my dad and me hugged. I knew I made the right choice..there was absolutely no way I could’ve continued my trip.
The next week was spent with family for all the services. I didn’t adjust well with the jet lag and the cold. After settling back in, I had a tough choice to make. Do I continue my trip or not? I felt like my trip didn’t end the way I wanted. My sister also booked her trip in July to meet up with me in Japan in November. I didn’t want to leave her with hotels booked with me included. But the most important thing was making sure my parents were good if I did go back. I discussed it with my parents and they agreed I should definitely go back and finish what I set out to do. The decision was made.
I booked my roundtrip to Tokyo for November 10 – December 14. Now, it’s just a waiting game. I felt like I was in some limbo state while home. I couldn’t fully get back to routine knowing I was leaving in 3 weeks. Yet I was too far out from my trip to sit around and wait. I’m not used to doing nothing ..so of course my mind spawns up new ideas to occupy my time. It actually gave me some time to explore knowing I’m going to start a new business next year.
The one thing I had left from traveling was finishing my blog. It didn’t feel right. I was out of the traveling element and had no motivation to write or edit the photos. So apologies to Hoi An, Hanoi, and Ha long bay for being left out. Maybe one day I will go back to finish it.
So… I’m ready for round two! It all worked out because I was not packed properly for the Japan winter. I had a pair of sandals and flip flops that I was going to swap my sister for shoes. Plus I can pack lighter for a 1 month trip. All I know is traveling with my sister means we get to do what we do best. EAT!! First stop, Tokyo!