Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Leaving my heart in Vietnam

Man, did it feel great to sleep in my own bed last night.
  After 20 plus hours of traveling and sleeping in the airport overnight, my family and I just couldn't wait to be done with flying and get home.
Saturday afternoon, my family and the Younes family said goodbye to our group at the hotel. There were tears shed, but our group is planning a hopeful reunion next Summer in the states.

 Our flight to Hong Kong was uneventful and we landed around 11pm.
  Once we landed, we were going to find the United transfer desk to have our boarding passes printed for our next flights. We got there and the desk was closed until the morning. That made everything difficult and we all just stood around wondering what we should do.
  We all were very hungry and the food wasn't available unless we had our boarding passes to get to the side of the airport that did.
  After talking to numerous airport workers, they told us to go through Immigration and the whole shindig and then we could get to the part of the airport that indeed had food.  We didn't get our boarding passes though, and that's what we really wanted, so we could sleep in our terminal...but at least we got to the check in area.
  We scored by eating at a 24 hour McDonalds, and man did it taste good...

By then our parents wanted us to try and get as much sleep as we could for the next day, so we started scouting out chairs and benches we could sleep on. There was hardly any more comfy chairs or anything to sleep on, so we had to settle for four long metal benches in the middle of the check in area of the airport. Each of us slept on only half of the bench so the other person could have the other half.
   It was even more uncomfortable than sleeping on a wooden chair when we were on the boat. Luckily for me, I had my neck pillow and the blanket that I "stole" off the previous flight. Bethany, only had a sweatshirt as a pillow.
  We woke up at around 5:00 in the morning due to people arriving to check in to their flight. We were all miserable.

 Patrick said that in the middle of the night, cleaning ladies were surrounding the plant next to him and were cleaning it while staring and giggling at him sleeping. Bethany had a bunch of women just plop themselves right next to her head while she was sleeping. It was a weird night and I'm sure we looked pretty pitiful. It was a struggle...
  Starbucks got my mom and I through that morning until we had to board our flight. After waiting numerous hours to wait for the United Desk to open, we finally got our boarding passes and went through security.
  By then it was around 8:30am and we stopped to get a meal...our last meal together! :(
We had two hours until the Younes's had to board their plane and we were holding on to every last minute.
When it was time to say goodbye, it was so hard! I didn't want to say goodbye to these people who I felt like I've known forever, who I've spent every single waking minute with for two weeks, and who I've made memories with.
  It was really over and all I could do was say goodbye :( After saying goodbye to them, my mom hugged me and I just let it all out and started crying. The past two weeks meant so much to me and I had such a good time. I can't even put it into words. This Vietnam trip changed my life, and it really opened up my eyes to a calling that might be in a different country, like Vietnam. I met so many amazing people, and it was so sad to let them go, knowing that I might never see them again.
  I was so exhausted, I think I slept 13 out of the 15 hours on the plane to Chicago. Luckily I got to sit by mom but Bethany was stuck in the middle between two strangers, like I was on the way there.
  After arriving in Cleveland from Chicago, we were all so pooped.
My grandma, grandpa and my great-aunt picked us all up from the airport and it was non-stop talking about our trip on the way home.
  Once we got home, we unpacked our suitcases, and got the laundry going. The magic travel vacation bubble that we were in was popped. Back to normal life...
  My greatest memories were the friendships that I made within our group. We all got along so well and from the first day, we all connected. Because were older, we got to go out in the city by ourselves a lot as the "kids"  group and we got to experience Vietnam in a way that you can only experience when you're a free living, wild spirited teenager.
  And to top the trip off, my family and Bethany got to meet her birthmother, a day that we will never forget.
I hope that you can tell how much this trip has meant to me. I am so glad that I blogged (almost) everyday, even on nights that we got back to the hotel really late and I just wanted to go to bed.
So needless to say, I think a part of me will always be in Vietnam. I fell in love with the country and I can't wait for the day I can go back.
  Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and coming alongside of me each day that I was in Vietnam. Your support is what gave me the determination to keep writing every single day.
And thank you to all my friends that adventured with me these past two weeks. I'm going to miss late night games of spoons, cramming into small Asian elevators with you, walking the crazy streets, trying to pay for cyclos, converting Dong into USD, trying to order at restaurants,eating with chopsticks,morning glory, the tunnels, recounting every scene of Pitch Perfect, our naps on the bus, and just laughing and joking all day. I loved each and every second of Vietnam and I will be posting a further blog highlighting Vietnam with photos that I took with my good camera, as well as posting the video of Bethany and Patrick meeting their birth mothers. Make sure you have tissues.

Bethany's reunion...

Talk to you next blog...