Barkada – Block F2
First things first. The best thing about going to Hanoi was going to Hanoi with three of my guy college barkada. That is the best thing. It was my first time to travel outside the country sans my parents—yes at 30 years old.
For me, who I travel with has more weight than where I travel to.
I felt safe with Rolf and Charlz in the group. Rolf is a seasoned traveler and can find his way around a different country with ease. He and Chalz have great chemistry and I love watching them talk animatedly. Charlz has a way of neutralizing my neuroticism, I’ve noticed that his voice is the one that my worry brain is able to listen to. On the other hand, Aldy balances out the group with his laidback character.
Bonus on this trip is Jamie, Aldy’s cousin. She reminded us of the magic and mysteries of the everyday. She also helped us process our thoughts.
During our Halong Bay Tour, we were given a choice of either taking a bamboo boat with a local rower or the kayak which we can take solo or with a partner. In my mind I was thinking, I’m should take the Bamboo boat–it’s safe. But at the last minute and because of social pressure, I decided, quit bitchin’, what could possibly go wrong, wasn’t the point of this trip I agreed on was to try new things? Ayon, I went for it!
FAILS: I got my pants and underwear wet because of my poor noobie rowing technique; My ass landed on the wet deck because I feared Aldy wasn’t strong enough to pull me up from the kayak, he was rather wiry, and he’d fall into the water. The wet underwear resulted in a UTI and intravenous medication for two weeks after the trip. 😓 I can’t say whether or not the UTI that followed was worth the few minutes of fun, but it’s a good story to tell and I now learned to avoid adventures that involve getting my pants wet.
I need to mention that Aldy totally bombed being my kayak partner. I wish I had Jamie or Charlz na lang. Itong si Aldy kept telling me to be the one to row when he preferred to sit in the back which is intended for the stronger rower. I rowed 70% of the time. 🙄
A Vietnamese Mass
The most unforgettable part of the trip for me was attending the Vietnamese mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. I’m always glad that when either Charlz and Rolf is around, they invite the group to attend mass.
I rarely attend mass nor go to church, however, I’ve noticed that whenever I visit a church I feel a powerful presence sweep over me. I believe it’s God’s Spirit and the people’s prayers that echoes mine.
The mass we attended was that of the local language, so we didn’t understand them in words. Still, I felt a strong connection to the people there. I felt their words without understanding the meaning; their prayers are my prayers too. It’s notable that Vietnamese celebrate their mass in a way I find beautiful. The order of mass was celebrated like a musical where everyone spoke in synchrony and in a melodic tune. All of us noticed this and remarked on its sense of order and harmony. (“Communist”, Charlz remarked).
I feel most alive not when I stand out but when I am able to connect with the people I’m with—and this was a powerful instance of that.
Being alone in a room with my crush leaves much to the imagination. 😋