An Englishman in Vietnam

by Jurgita Kaledaite (Ireland)

The last thing I expected Vietnam


"You will meet an Englishman in Vietnam", my Italian fortune-teller housemate outlines her sixth-sense prediction whilst observing me packing for my first ever cycling trip. She must be jokingly mad, I have eight senses, after all. "Who? An Englishman in New York, perhaps?", I think out loud. A pink butterfly covered passport, two ready steady credit and debit cards, my wardrobe dump, eager for a spring clean after the 12-day remote pedalling, granny's knickers collection. Packed. Who will I meet on such a wild adventure? Just like minded people. Remote Vietnam and Laos by bike. 676-km. 10,353m total ascent. Precision or prediction? I am obsessed by both now. Church Boutique Hotel Hang Gai, Hanoi, December 20th, 2015. My skinny legs, covered in a long black skirt, out of my luxurious travel wardrobe, are following my feet down the stairs towards the hotel reception, a meeting place for an introductory dinner for all world-wide participants of the upcoming adventure. Step by step, sense by sense, I admire the power of my seven wonders of the world: I hear a loud masculine voice, I smell a strong male perfume, I feel my heart beating as soon as I see a man, screening me from my top to the bottom, as if I am walking on a podium in Paris. Taste and love, two wonders of my world are left to be discovered, uncovered and covered. I close my eyes, take a deep breath in, exhale and open the windows of my soul to taste the power of love. My dinner plate is covered with freshly crafted flowers from colourful vegetables and juicy fruits. Fields of rice, corn, cassava and sugarcane speak their beauty whilst an Englishman pedals beside me. I am lost in the moment of faith. I take my first happy feet capture at the swimming pool at Mai Chau Eco Lodge, he is in the first frame. I wear my favourite gypsy pants, blue top and matchy-matchy flip-flops, he nominates me for the best dinner outfit asking a local waitress to vote. I change into my special-occasion black and white dress for a traditional dance night with the locals, he cannot take his windows off my soul. We kiss the honey over the moon on the stairs, admire the starry sky whilst we talk to infinity and beyond, lost in time, space and translation. I wake up on a Jesus's birthday surrounded by a strange human warmth. I swim in those beautiful blue eyes asking me whether this can continue tonight, again. Who has ever expected to meet an Englishman in Vietnam? Prediction, I believe in Christmas miracles though.