My dad’s broken ankle was in so much pain last night – waking him up constantly to adjust – that neither of us really slept. We got out of bed at 7am still utterly exhausted, he headed off to the hospital, and I started tying up loose ends:
First was the disgusting task of separating and bagging all of our mud-infused gear; everything we’d worn on yesterday’s ride had absorbed so much filth you could barely touch it without making a mess.
Then I walked over to Freewheelin’ Tours to pick up our luggage and get a partial refund.
I really have to give them credit – despite how disorganized they initially seemed, I was amazed at how fair and generous they were in this regard. Before I even contacted them they called and asked me to drop by, offering to return every penny that hadn’t already been spent (i.e. on fuel and food on our behalf). It was far more than I expected considering that they could just as easily have said “Sorry, the accident was your fault – no refunds.” But no. Their treatment of the situation made it perfectly clear that they really do care about their customers. Bravo!
I also dropped by the Halong Bay tour office to get as much back as I could, seeing as we now wouldn’t be able to go on the cruise I’d reserved. I got about 70%.
Man, all those hours of effort – walking around town, talking to tour operators, researching, reserving – down the drain like the mud from my shoes 😥
Finally, I hauled all our belongings across the street to yet another room. At this point we had no idea how long we’d be stuck here, and as last night was pretty cramped (especially considering my dad’s difficulty moving around) I figured we could to do better.
By the time he returned from the hospital there was no doubt in his mind: it was time to start looking at flights. No way did he want the surgery done here; it was only a question of how soon he could get home.
…And whether or not I’d be going with him.
It was a tough decision. Less than 24 hours ago my plans had been clear: I’d be in SouthEast Asia for at least another six months. I’d just bought a three-month Vietnamese visa, renewed my travel insurance, and was at the very start of a long-anticipated trek back towards Thailand. Should I drop it all and head home? Or just take him to the airport and his girlfriend would meet him in LA? How much help could I really be – and would it be worth the exorbitant cost of two last-minute tickets?
I was a jumble of emotions. On one hand, I was nowhere near ready to leave. But on the other, I felt terrible for what’d happened – just one day ago he was telling me how wonderful it felt to be walking without pain for the first time in years. Now it was gone again, taken away in the blink of an eye. The thought of watching him leave made homesick beyond words – or perhaps “lonely” would be a better way to put it. For the past half-year I never had even the slightest urge to go home, but things had changed. Even beyond all of our grand travel plans that would now never happen, I just didn’t want to see him leave.
What would you do? $2,000 ticket, drop everything, and fly half way across the world? Or get him safely onboard and trust that he’s in good hands back at home?
Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Wednesday, May 4th.