The reason we hopped a plane four weeks after I gave birth, was to attend my sister’s wedding in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. There are few other things that could have propelled us onto a long distance flight with a not-quite-two-year-old and a four-week-old; the promise of half a million dollars on the other side, perhaps, or a lifetime’s supply of truly excellent donuts. Although, reflecting on the flight back to Singapore from Vietnam, I am not quite sure there is anything that would make that worthwhile. Not even donuts. And I love donuts.
We drove through the humid sprawl of Ho Chi Minh city to get to our accommodation, unable to stop a relentless commentary on the sheer lunacy of what is quite possibly the city’s defining feature; scooter traffic. Good Lord. As SG said, it is hard to know if they are the best drivers in the world, or the worst. To the naked eye, there seemed to be neither ryhme nor reason to the way the scooters blended with cars and busses and each other, gliding in and out of seeming mortal danger, to the soundtrack of endless horns. But they all seemed to know what they were doing – it was only our Germanic understanding of Ordnung that bore any affront.
To be frank, we didn’t leave our resort for the 5 days we were in Ho Chi Minh. Instead, we spent time with family, and it was glorious. Der Lüdde met his Great Nana who had made the trek from Sydney to Vietnam at the sprightly age of 86, almost all of his Great Aunts and Uncles, and second cousins. Watching my Nana holding her newest great grandchild was one of those moments in life in which one suddenly feels very close to the fundamental. In fact, those days in Vietnam were full of such moments, like watching my sister walking down the aisle, my Dad puffed with pride, my Mum crying. Giving die Lüdde over to her Nana and Great Aunt so I could drink a beer. My cousin asking how to hold der Lüdde and keeping him calm for a solid ten minutes, my brother horsing around with his delighted niece. We didn’t see the city, but we can always go back. But you can’t always go back to these moments, these golden moments. My children won’t be small forever, my grandparents won’t be around forever, and living on the other side of the world to my family, I feel all of this so very keenly.
It is always worthwhile, the time and the money and the inflight meltdowns, the overtired toddlers and jetlagged days, when family is waiting on the other end. We crossed paths for a few days, in sweaty heat, to welcome a new brother and son, to celebrate my sister, and to remind each other of how very lucky we are.