Time to deal with the more tangible aspects of the journey to Vietnam, since just saying ”I want to go there” doesn’t make it a trip indeed.
The Times‘ travel pack is attractive, but the leaving date scheduled a week after my first ‘off’ day makes it unfeasible. I would need to plan all from scratch.
In my mind, a plan is an imaginary ladder to climb. Or a hopscotch to skip onto. It releases a bold wave of self-pleasure when it’s accomplished, after a fair amount of twisted innards and headaches.
The thought that everything is going to be under control makes me feel safe; it confines me to a cerebral barricade where nothing bad could happen.
A good plan should expect even the unexpected.
What possibly might go wrong after having figured out even the smallest of hitches?
First, find a tour around the country.
Since I’m running out of time I skip some steps to keep it simple.
Quick, almost non-existent preliminary research of local tour operators. Just four contacts, four emails. Easy peasy. Less is more, they say.
And I keep it even simpler, the first who responds makes the deal.
Thao has to be a kind girl. I assume it looking at the smiling picture that pops from her email, and from the tone she uses to welcome me in her writing.
“Warm greetings from Thao, it is my pleasure to assist you in planning your trip next month.”
She neither uses roundabout ways nor tries to sell me something I don’t need.
My non-negotiable keyword: solo traveller.
She tailors her advice to comply with my request.
I reward courtesy. Courtesy comes as a golden gift; every time I receive it I feel like having a debt I need to pay back at the first opportunity. Lavishing courtesy back is a major chapter in my old-fashioned manners’ book.
A glimpse at the seven-page itinerary sent through by Thao.
The attached images, small like stamps, seem to come out of some ’80s postcards. Their shockingly bright and burned colours suddenly become vague reminders of a younger me in tourist’s clothes, my Italy and sunny days. Reminiscing of Italian souvenir shops where you still find similar pictures of crystallised monuments and immutable landscapes, of people caught in those photos and stuck in their old style dresses and cars, transmuted into monuments themselves.
And here they were finally, a couple of pages later, the same bay and boats that grabbed my attention on The Times’