My favorite part of traveling is meeting people from all around the world. Sometimes we remain friends only for a night, and others I have stayed in touch with throughout the years. But, my most recent connection was one that was truly special. I like to call it, my love story set in Vietnam.
It all began this past July in Mui Ne, Vietnam, while I was sitting in Jibe’s Beach Club overlooking the South China Sea and drinking a Saigon beer. The bar was quiet due to off-season, but there were a good amount of backpackers around. A table of three guys caught my eye early on in the night, but the girls and I kept to ourselves trying to plan out the rest of our trip and decide when we would head further north.
About an hour later, one of the guys, Steve*, came over to ask if their group of guys could join us, and that’s how it all began. We made friends with Steve from Canada, Dylan from Wales, and Oliver from England immediately and their presence among us was a welcome one. We all shared stories about where we had been and where we were going.
Oliver and I hit it off right away; at first, yelling over the table to talk to each other, until I finally moved my chair to his side of the table. Conversation just flowed, and I could tell immediately there was something special between us.
We parted ways that night, but exchanged numbers, as we were headed along the same path up Vietnam. We had planned to meet up the next day to visit the sand dunes together, but after one too many Saigon beers, the next morning was not an easy one. Instead, I found a spot under the umbrella by the pool and remained there for the day.
That night the girls and I only headed out for dinner, as we had a six hour bus ride to Nha Trang early the following morning. I had hoped we’d run into the guys that night, but we didn’t, and left Mui Ne the next morning. With that, I left my hope of seeing Oliver again, even though, I had a feeling our story wasn’t over.
Nha Trang quickly became our favorite destination in Vietnam – filled with travelers and plenty of nightlife. We made many new friends from all over the world, but on our third night at the Sailing Club, our new favorite hang out, we ran into Steve and Dylan. Oliver wound up being there too, so we were able to reconnect. We spent the rest of the night sitting and talking or on the beach dancing. Then, he walked me to my hotel, and we sat outside, continuing our conversation until we were completely exhausted. We exchanged numbers, e-mail addresses, and made sure that the following day we’d get in touch. That next day would be my last in Nha Trang before heading back on a twelve-hour bus ride to Saigon and then on to Bangkok for my flight home.
After some difficulty reconnecting yet again, we managed to meet for drinks one last time, and even though we were with our friends, we were in our own little world. We found quiet corners in the bars to sit and continue our previous conversations.
We talked about the countries we’ve visited, where we want to go, what life was like back home – his family is from England, but he was born and raised in Uganda. We then sat outside my hotel again talking for hours and he taught me Swahili, while I taught him the little Italian I knew. As much as I tried not have the night end, I had a bus to catch about an hour after we finally parted ways. We vowed to keep in touch, but my heart sunk into my stomach, not knowing what would happen from there.
I’ve met many along my travels, and in my daily life, but no one that I quite had the same connection with. Now it’s almost four months later, and I still think of him every day. We’ve kept in touch, but it isn’t always easy and it isn’t the same.
It’s hard to know what the future will bring, but I have a feeling that I will be reunited with Oliver once again at some point in my life. If not, I’ll always remember what we had those few days together in Vietnam.
*Names have been changed.
Update: Oliver and I did meet up again! You can read the story here.
Day 12: BootsnAll Indie Travel Project
Today’s Topic: MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS – Travelers meet dozens, if not hundreds, of new people on every trip. They may become friends, enemies, lovers, and resources; they may stay in your life forever or be forgotten the next day. Tell about a time you felt a powerful connection – for however long – to another person while traveling.