2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Returns From Vietnam Day 21: Friday October 11, 2019 The Longest Day

In my mind, I had it that our flight was in the early afternoon. But it was in the morning. So we had to wake up early in Hanoi for the first time since we got to this hotel. It was a good thing because a large, inevitably noisy, Chinese family had joined us on our floor and they were up at the same time. So we had a quick breakfast and got a ride to the airport. (For some reason, the hotel shuttle to the airport was way cheaper here than in other cities.)

The airport was a hike from the city but fortunately the there wasn’t much traffic. We did drive over a seemingly brand new, massive bridge, which felt really out of character with the infrastructure of much of the country.

The Hanoi airport actually looks a lot like the Saigon airport. They are reasonably modern airports. But, like Bogota, the prices in the airport were just insane. We were glad we did our souvenir shopping in the grocery store.

Our flight to Hong Kong was relatively brief, though longer than the flights to and from Cambodia. We knew that wasn’t the bad one and I debated whether it was worse to have a 15 hour flight before or after a 2+ hour flight.

Because we arrived in Hong Kong in the middle of the day instead of the early morning, more stuff was open. I remembered a bar so, after we did our usual loop of the airport, we sat down at it and had CAD$15 pints of a local Hong Kong beer, which was, well, fine. Nothing like airport beer prices.

Our flight from Canada left at some absurd time in the morning, so we were tired and, after dinner, easily fell asleep despite being on a plane. (That sleep wasn’t great, but it was sleep.) But this time we left late afternoon/early evening so it wasn’t late enough to really be tired. We ate dinner on the plane and then I decided to watch a movie, figuring there was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep any time soon.

So the first movie I watched was Inherent Vice, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

At this point I tried to sleep and I found out the answer to my question. It’s better to leave at night when you’re going on a 15 hour flight. I maybe slept 6 or 7 hours, albeit restlessly, on the way out. I might have made it to 4 on the way back. In part this was because I couldn’t figure out what time it was, and for some reason I worried about that. I didn’t pay attention to the route on the way out until after I slept. But this time I knew the route, even though it was slightly different – over Japan and Alaska instead of over the North Pole. And I kept thinking it would be morning soon, even though the shades were all drawn. Anyway, it was not good sleep. So, more movies.

First up was Vice. You’ve heard it’s not good. It’s not good. So good thing to watch on a plane.

There was still tons of time left in the flight so I picked a long one, Blade Runner 2049.

Because of the wonders of the international dateline, we left on Friday morning and we got home on Friday night even though, door to do, it was 26 hours or so. It was definitely worse going than coming, at least in terms of how long it felt like it was taking, though we really didn’t have a terrible trip, since we splurged on bulkhead seats. Anyway, that’s what you have to do to travel half away around the world.


When I got back, so many people told me I must be refreshed. I don’t feel refreshed. I am writing this a week later and I’m just getting over the jet lag and I still feel tired. Sure, I got a break from work, in that sense I guess it was refreshing, but 3 weeks is a long time to do a lot of stuff every day. The older I get, the less energy I seem to have.

I sort of figured I’d come back and I would have made up my ind about my various personal projects I had trouble committing to, or deciding what to do about, before I left. (Such as my fourth book.) But instead I feel the opposite – I feel content with my life. I am very happy that every year or two I can go on some elaborate trip. I’m super lucky and privileged to be born where I was born to the family I was born into and I’m very glad I didn’t grow up in a place that’s harder. I’m happy to be home, though, and I find myself contented with the life I have, and kind of annoyed I have so many ideas, many of which I cannot see to their fruition. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Somewhere on my vacation I was supposed to realize which was the one that I should focus my energy on and pursue so that I can finally live off my writing. Instead, I’m just tired and happy.

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