03. On flying
The itinerant tour in Vietnam proposed by Thao looks inspiring, but before paying for it I need to find a flight to get there. Plus the domestic ones to move around the country from North to South. No flights, no trip.
The Russian Aeroflot offers the fairest deal for 800 pounds and an 18-hour flight on the route London – Moscow – Hanoi, and the same way back.
The domestic flights could be easily arranged online with the low-cost Vietjet Company.
Usually, my body spends about 4 hours a month up in the clouds.
Flying so often to Italy has been a habit for a couple of years since I moved to London.
Stansted and Bologna Airports have become familiar harbours; I could move around blindfolded. I have my ritual stopovers there; the shop where I take a break to read the book excerpts, the place where I’m used to having my Friday meal before departure, or the bar where I wait for the gate opening on Monday at dawn.
I know why I do it.
I need to tie the emotional knot with Homeland, family, friends, and my cats.
That monthly trip is the thread which impedes my kite-like heart to go adrift.
When I fly my mind is somewhere else.
I live in a floating span and in a fragmented time where thoughts bounce compulsively back and forth. There is no chance of finding any logical orientation. It’s a thousand connections hunting. That flight into the flight draws multiple emotional chains like infinite reflections of two mirrors in front of each other. It’s impossible to catch the same vision on both sides at the same moment. What’s an idea of the present or an echo of the past, what’s actual and what lies at your desires boundaries, you cannot really tell.
The flight to Vietnam would be the longest haul that I’ve ever done. And the farthest from my safe London-Bologna-London on-air axis.
However, when I decided to embark on this journey and fly to the other side of the world by myself, that wouldn’t have been possible two years ago. Not before moving and living abroad alone.
Not before tens of London-Bologna-London flights.
Not before having my heart shattered.
A flight, real or just imagined, pulls and loosens the rubber band of your emotions.
The very tiny place where I live on my own in North London is a top floor. There is a ceiling window over my bed. It’s a small square of sky and a bunch of pale stars, but enough to let my heart fly again.
The first time I landed back home after two months in London was a September night. The sky was an immense black bowl stung by thousands of radiant stars. And Orion, my favourite constellation, was in front of me.
The city of London is not a place where you instinctively move your eyes up to the sky.
When I wake up, the first glance that I always take is at the ceiling window. The planes contrails cut my sky frame into smaller quadrilaterals. They dissolve quite quickly, leaving room for new ones. Marks left by on-air skaters.
I wonder where those planes go? The majority heads towards east. Stansted is the closest airport to my head.
Exactly like in Italy, my room windows are east-west oriented. Sunrise paints my walls with a touching pale pink, while sunset gives them a hue of vivid fuchsia.
I love it.
The romantic, colourful flight of an artist-like sun scans the trajectory of my life.
Up to the sky, time hasn’t got a real substance.
If you go towards Vietnam, for each hour travel you get one more slice of the time zone cake. The Sun runs twice as fast. By the time the hostess has served you the meal, it’s time for breakfast already.
Instead, when you travel backwards time is double stretched. It’s a journey back in time but where everything has still to happen.
And I cannot help thinking that I have been going backwards all my life.
A bit of heart beating before hitting the button to book the ticket.
Now I really have to go to Vietnam.
Take a look at the whole Vietnam Photo Book here