Flash back to the latest halcyon days
The phone alarm went off at 10 p.m. one day after returning home. In fact, the reason for it to make such a sudden loud noise was because I forgot to turn off the daily remind function when I set it for the departure. I hesitated for a moment before pressing the ‘stop’ button and all the pictures of the previous few days flashed through my brain in a disordered rush. I decided to let everything invade my thoughts, perhaps it would provide logic and order.
The feelings were already so chaotic by the time I planned to go to Da Lat. I was worried, sick, and afraid. My mind was jigged by the haunting anxiety about just what had already been set in motion. But above all, there was a fear of facing the unavoidable moments of broken feelings that I somehow sensed.
Many years ago, I met a stranger in no other place than this highland zone. It would have been unimportant for me if he hadn’t turned out to be blessed with key stories about my family. As such, it was imperative I saw him, at least once, after 14 years of absence.
Da Lat was sending its welcoming cool breeze through the window of my small room, the mood of cautious optimism percolated in my brain, which pictured my purpose of this travelling time as a bright success. It seemed so bright and positive that I almost forgot there was still a possibility of getting a big fat zero after all the effort of reconnecting to a distant figure.
Stunning photographs, divine coffee, good conversations and funny jokes were considered the saviors of memory on my trip. I enjoyed watching them laugh in tears out of their language jokes, no less than capturing the combination of their beauty and nature’s. The harmony of cultures brought up from friends with different backgrounds, languages and mindsets made every moment a gift of lifetime.
I travelled, learnt and experienced with smiles. However, at the end of the day, I couldn’t embrace all the enchantment and be as ecstatic as a child on the verge of Christmas. Instead, I made way for peacefulness to cover the negativity that was echoing through my ears.
Teardrops for the first day
I was never a strong man and my emotions are by design similar to the definition of a mess. Anyone who knows me could easily spot that. Professional at work but badly moody outside the uniform. For countless people, tears are the symbol of strength that suffers from lasting pain. But my dignity could affirm that I am a lucky person in the world, facing very little bad luck in life and having quite smooth paths and journeys. Still I cried. I spent nearly half the trip on devoting the eyes to such an unnecessary task. There was no excuse that I would love to have given and all was just a response to lessons, new and old, along with the mistakes that I might bring with me till the afterlife.
Unfortunate events that happen usually result in the downfall of enjoyment. The result of me solving a problem and other people solving the same one are both a similarity. However, between the event and the moment when a person gets confident at solving the problem, I chose to get lost in my thoughts. This is among the most rubbishing stupidities that keeps me in misery. I let salty tears fall because the seed of sadness sowed by the effect of any unexpected occurrence started to grow. This was something called loneliness.
Tears appeared and became evanescent when they married the chilling breeze among the pine branches at twilight, which were possibly seen by some friends. The toxicity of the loneliness crushed down on me and the first beautiful day ended like that.
Gone with the rain
Sunshine of the next day knocked on the door and I was determined to get rid of the untitled sorrow by taking photos, the thing that I dare to say I’m good at and am always into.
And I took countless photos just like I had and will always do whenever there is an opportunity travel in my life. Yet I also learnt that the elements and people in the captured zones couldn’t always meet my exacting expectations. And expectation could lead to frustration in some cases when you apply it too much onto your personal work. That was when I successfully failed to brighten the day.
The continuous rain welcomed the news of no more hope for seeking or seeing the one that needed to be seen. What killed me after I received such cruel message wasn’t the cruelty itself nor the f*cking torrential rain, but the fact that I had never tried hard enough to reach to the destined place when I had other possible chances. That is it. And you know that every failure you get does not torture you, but the feeling of great regret does.
The joy, along with the whole scenery and the whole scenery, faded away. That I had failed to see the person for one last time was so much like a cruel joke. I felt a huge pain behind my belly and tears were just uncontrollably shed.
Pale pleasure for the remaining hours
Surely I missed some parts that should have been worth my laughter, but I’m glad that I made it to the full end. My wonder boy in the trip reminded me that everything happened for a reason, and my girl is just as well as a great deal of wisdom who constantly brought up words of consolation. I then found the bowl of fresh fruits and the cup of frothy coffee were somewhat a piece of happiness.
As many days had passed before, I just need to repeat the circle of shaping my emotions, just like the sky changes its tone of dark grey to the clear blue one. Where there is dark, hope for the better can still be found “if one only remembers to turn on the light”. Some mistakes are too bad to be redeemed and some kinds of sorrow are way too sticky to be devoured, yet you have the inner voice to rely on, to tell you that everything is going to be just fine, and in the end you always find the answer all by yourself and ready to turn over a new leaf.
One habit of mine is to remember something of personal worth from every single companion, an exercise that is always irresistible to me. What you say and do to me is sculptured deeply in my mind and I personally understand them in a kind of heartfelt sympathy.
Ilse: “I’m not a buffalo kid. I’m a buffalo.”
Thảo: “Bên này đông hơn.”
Trâm: “Bây giờ tụi mình mới được ngồi với nhau.” and your wise words.
Trúc: “Darling is a really beautiful word.”
An: “It is always true.” and your hug of comfort when I broke down.
Angus: “But versatility would be a nice one.”
Hugo: “Don’t worry. I’m walking back.”
James: “Liz is dead.”
And even myself: “The scent of lavenders just makes me want to get pregnant.”
Thank you everyone for joining me on this trip, and from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize for anything I did made our fun less delightful.
And after all, I hope this was my last trip to Da Lat, at least for the next some years.
PS: If any curiosity comes to you from my trip, you might find some helpful names for references as below.
- Bánh mỳ Chảo
- Cơm tấm Thủy
- Tiệm Cà-Phê Cô Bông
- An Cafe
- Bánh căn Hoa Mai
- Quán 33 – Ốc Nhồi Thịt & Lẩu Đuôi Bò
- Artist Alley
- Street food in the night market
Visiting spots and others:
- Lavender Dalat Tourist Area
- Tuyền Lâm Lake
- Trúc Lâm Temple
- Maze Bar
- Crazy House
[25, 26, 27/06/2018]