Two Goodbyes Don’t Make It Alright

Day 58: Hanoi-ying to Bangkok

The morning is mellow and melancholy. We pack up our few things and check out downstairs.
Nothing is open this early for breakfast, so like proper habitual humans we return to Hanoi Rocks to ingest chocolate sauce with a side of crepe. At this time I attempt to book a flight out of India, because apparently it’s necessary to show proof that you are exiting the country within your visa time frame, or you won’t be allowed in. Flo warned me of the frustrating experience he had when he went a couple months ago. He was forced to book a flight out of India at the airport as his plane was boarding, otherwise he wouldn’t be allowed on. How does one book a flight when one has no itinerary? I don’t know where I’ll be by the time my visa expires. I don’t even know where I’ll be next week! Thinking about this is giving me an eye twitch. I’ll put that task off until…later. I have an airport shuttle to catch.
Flo and I stroll along the city’s lake, talking about that time we met a stranger in a strange land and rode motorcycles across the country like time had lost its touch and fear had forgotten its own name. That time we were free.
The airport shuttle is idling.
Flo and I hug each other for ten full minutes. When I pull away, his eyelashes are all stuck together in tiny triangular clumps and when I get into the back of the vehicle I look at him through the tinted window and realize that this is that eternal changing moment that life is comprised of. Goodbyes–they become hellos, in some way. Like one form of energy morphing into another and another and on forever. And so that’s okay.
But even tough girls have to wear sunglasses inside sometimes. I try to focus on the driver who is raging through traffic as if all the passengers had personally offended him. At least I’m at the airport early, which, after whizzing through bag check like a champ, is redundant because my flight is delayed an hour.
Then, through a smaller, thicker window-pane, I say goodbye again. Bye-bye, Vietnam. I’m not unscathed, but neither are you.

An hour and a half later I say hello to hot, sticky Bangkok. I hike through the airport to the metro and stand in line, then realize my connecting flight departs in fifteen hours. I step out of line–no one would ever take me seriously as a thrifty traveler if I didn’t sleep on an airport bench. I sit on the grass outside as the sun sets, sipping some sugary green tea drink and eating salad from a bag. A lot of time is spent walking from the food court to an outlet to charge my phone and back again. I want to figure out if it’s necessary to book a flight out of India, but the airline office is closed until morning. Also, my credit card expires in a month, but after a phone call with the bank, it turns out it’s not possible to send a new one abroad. Sublime.


So I chat to Flo over the internet and go back to the food court to eat chicken, then, exhausted, to the second floor in search of bed. Between the back of a large sign and the glass banister of an escalator, I lay down on the floor and close my eyes. Tick, tick. Nothing happens. It’s 3am. Tick.
The only thing open at this hour is a coffee shop, so I grab a cup and hit the internet. How do you book trains in India? Maybe I should book accommodation in Delhi. Will I need a SIM card? My bloodshot eyes nearly fall out of my head and my stomach is grumbling again. After scarfing a 4am plate of chicken and rice on my third visit to the food court (seriously, my daily food budget is SHOT), I grab a bag of Oreos and cozy up on a row of airport seats. My alarm is set for thirty minutes from now. I shut my eyes and this time, something happens.

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