Hours before boarding my plane to Manila, I found myself on the backseat of a motor bike thinking that I was about to die. No kidding. It was rush hour and we were about 30 minutes (maybe 45 to an hour by a car driving normally) to the first district which we were going to in order to pay for my change in luggage weight. Apparently, a 20 kilo baggage allowance wasn't enough and rather than paying the exorbitant fee at check-in, we opted to pay for the extra 10 via travel agency.
The boy driving this bike was also our driver around town so I trusted that he knew his way about because there was no way we could communicate with each other as he didn't speak a word of English and we didn't have any time to lose because it was already past 5 in the afternoon. The agency was to close at 6. Okay, so we were in a hurry, but my goodness did he drive like we were being chased by Godzilla himself. We keep complaining in Manila that motorcycle drivers here are nasty but compared to them, the motorcyclists here in Manila are angels, I tell you. There was no street we didn't counter-flow. No "no left turn" sign we followed. No intersection we did not dare drive through even with cars and buses bustling through from both directions. At one point, I just covered my face with my hands thinking that we were surely going to be hit only to look up facing head to head this black car with the driver giving my driver the middle-finger salute. "Oh so they do that too in Vietnam?"--were my immediate thoughts followed by "Oh we're still alive!"
We did get the job done but when we got back to the hotel, I told Mom this story that I just kept on smiling because at least if I had died, I would have died with a smile on my face. This made her laugh like a mad woman. I made this strangling gesture with the driver and said in English "I could kill you now. Now that I did not die." More laughter. I told her too, that while we were driving, I was thinking to myself that Ho Chih Min at night was beautiful as it was the first time I've seen the place after sunset except that at the same time, I was fearing that it might also be the last knowing for sure that we couldn't possibly get back to the hotel in one piece. In the end I said that next time, I will gladly pay the $80.00 we saved because surely my life is worth more than that. Still, more laughter...
It was indeed a trip that put a period on most of the questions I've asked and a journey that was short in the numbers of days but distant in the kilometer reading of my heart. I would forever remember it as it ended as one of the many exclamation points of my life. I am thankful for taking the ride to see, hear and hug my Mother again.
Today's lunch box: Chả giò (Vietnamese Egg Rolls), Ca Kho To (Fish Steak Braised in Spicy Caramel Sauce), Steamed Rice.
PS Today is my Mom's birthday. Happy birthday Mommy, I love you.:-)