A Journey Back North

Morning at the docks. The sea is not quiet, the ferry is jerking on the waves.

Before we set sail, a severe woman was giving sick-bags to anyone who requests them. A woman sat next to me, nodded and smiled politely, and then began vomiting violently into her bag.
We went outside to get some fresh air. My hair caught the strong wind, and I was happy. We’ve been together for five years back then, and only then I realized what it meant to be engaged to someone, or to be married – it means home.
It still does.

As the ferry arrived at the mainland we took a cab to the bus station. We didn’t really know where we were. At the station, I paid 10,000 Dong to a grumpy woman, because I needed to use the bathroom. It had no paper, no light, no door, and no soap.
We went in a van. It began driving, collecting passengers and items until it was filled to the brim: some chairs, really smelly boxes, a container of fish sauce. Somebody gave the driver a basket with a live chicken, to deliver to somebody else who was waiting by the road, an hour away. A woman sat in the aisle on a low chair, put her head on my shoulder and fell asleep.

After two hours we arrived at Châu Đốc, where we would spend the night.
The van dropped us at what seemed like no-where, but two bikers offered to take us to the hotel for cheap. The town itself was similar to Rạch Giá, also small and suburbian. We arrived at our room on the fourth floor of the hotel huffing and puffing.

Before we got there, I read that Châu Đốc was famous for its mosquitos. Well, they didn’t lie. Fat lizards were standing on every wall and ceiling, munching happily. The mosquitos were just everywhere. They thrive in such humid places.

We showered and walked towards the river that crosses the town, and had coffee. Then, feeling renewed after the ride, went to the market. It was nice, not too crowded. We’ve been told that many travelers come to Châu Đốc on their way to Cambodia since it’s very close, and indeed we saw many backpackers.


In the evening we had dinner at a nice place with a happy vibe, that served fried rice with meat. We sat there for a while, enjoying the ambiance, and then took a walk around the town.
Like in Rạch Giá, Châu Đốc didn’t seem very interesting after dark. The market area was nice, with people and vendors, but outside of it everything was already getting closed.
We bought some beers and went back to the room. The beers weren’t cold yet, so we put them in the fridge and had tea at the hotel’s lobby. It felt nice and casual.
Back in the room, we watched a horror movie and drank the beers. It was almost Haloween, and the movies channels featured scary movies every night. This night, they showed Oculus, a movie about a brother and a sister who explore a mirror they had in their childhood, that haunts the people around it.

In the morning we took a cab to the central station, and then a bus to Cần Thơ. It took nearly four hours on the crooked roads to get there, and a man near me was vomiting the whole time.
I’ve felt sorry for all those car-sicked people, and there were many of those in Vietnam. Somehow, they were not very good at keeping their stomach’s content inside during these long rides.

I was glad to come back to Cần Thơ, even just for a night. We walked around the city, getting to know it again. After lunch, I went back to the hotel to take a shower, and Roni went to get a haircut. He came back after an hour with shorter hair and told me that everyone in the barber’s shop wanted to touch his blonde hair and take photos with him. When he left he said “Thank you” in Vietnamese, and the crowd roared in laughter.

In the evening we went to the night market, had passionfruit juice and a delicious Xôi gà for dinner, and walked around.
Then we went back to the hotel. The receptionist we knew from the last time was there, and he sat with us for beer and asked for help again with his English homework. We talked about our lives and our wishes for the future. He said we could stay in Vietnam and teach English, and once we have enough money, we can open a restaurant. Then, once in a while, we can leave the restaurant with somebody we trust and travel the world.
We actually wanted to stay in Vietnam for longer, but there was this job offer we received back home, and we couldn’t say no to this.

We went to bed. It was strange, to be back there, but now going backward. It didn’t have the same coziness I have felt the first time we’ve been there. The next day we would travel North back to Hồ Chí Minh City, our last destination, and I was already starting to say goodbye.


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