We settled on a totally chill, lazy holiday pattern of waking up late, doing a bit of writing and reading exercises for the kids to make up for the sin that is to come — binging on Netflix and games, plus drinking too much bubble milk tea simply because it was there and there were no lines unlike in Manila. We managed the minimum of sightseeing — just enjoying what’s there in front of us although we took the effort to fly to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh and suffered the regular flight delays that brought us back to Saigon at 4 am instead of the expected, ticketed midnight. In Nha Trang, we stayed in the quieter part of the long stretch of beach towards the north. Huge tower blocks housing tourists still loomed overhead but the shoreline is not as inundated with bodies as the famous lengthy stretch of sand south of the bridge.
The food, of course, is the best thing about Vietnam as Anthony Bourdain would probably agree, salivating over the plethora of street food that celebrates the bounty of the land. Oh those generous plates of mint and greens that come with everything! That beautifully soft Pho that is not supposed to be pronounced with an “oh” sound but an “uh.” And I have passed on my love for Banh Mi to Joshua and Jimmy but where will we ever get that perfect baguette when we go home. The kids were intrigued by ice cream made on a metal table that instantly freezes fruits, oreo, chocolate powder, together with milk to make thin crepes rolled and slid into cups. The fish with big bones cooked in foil sealing in layers and layers of flavor — the cost is unbelievably low for all these. I wonder and lament how can we get good food so way overpriced in our own country.
What’s not so chill is being the referee between a 9-year old and a 6-year old who are at each other’s throat, ready to kill each other. What’s not so chill is being the only parent there with no reliever. I appreciated my husband’s role even more because it gets too tiring to keep the two apart when they fight. What’s not so chill is losing my temper because I’m sick of the whining and ugly attitude. What’s not so chill is resorting repeatedly to reward and punishment and wishing there was a better way based on intrinsic motivation more than anything else. What’s not so chill is the nagging complaints about flight delay that I just promise them I’ll never make such arrangements and we’ll just stick to one place next time. I’ll probably be tempted to organize another crazy schedule in the future so then I’ll need to remind myself of the three-hour delay and the sleepy eyed, slumping lumps who almost refused to carry their own weights up and down the plane.
Still the best part of the trip for me is spending time with James and bonding with the kids. James solved the problem of Joshua’s PUB-G not being able to update. We were able to listen to James’ reading of the Lorax in celebration of Earth Day at the school where he works. The night time breeze, swinging in the park, flowers that smell divine, enjoying an extra hour with Amani at Jump Arena, riding two grab motorcycles, watching footballers on the sand, creating a temporary masterpiece that can’t be captured by my camera, finding the perfect luggage and Pikachu in the airport — like layers of flavor build up a dish, layers of moments build up our lives. The chill parts still override those that are not so chill.