Our annual holiday started in all the best ways. Work completed in time, house sorted, everything packed in advance (well in advance since I got the departure day muddled up and we ended up with an extra day at home. This was an unexpected bonus for my garden because I spent the day getting the mulching finished and feeding all the plants sea-sol as a little extra Spring boost. I’ve never been so smugly sorted with my sea-sol).
And speaking of smug, our destination is VIETNAM, which is the place that very worldly people take their children and have cooking classes and get healthy and appreciative and accepting.
And speaking (more) of smug, I am the proud owner of a MACBOOK AIR, on which I am writing to you all now. There is every chance I might adopt a distinctly superior tone in my voice from now on because you know, APPLE and PRESTIGE and things. I fetched it in the nick of time to bring with us on holiday, mainly so I could sit on the plane and caress the keyboard and appear intriguingly creative and sassy. No one has ever described me as sassy before. I wished I had some heavy rimmed glasses , a tootsie roll and a peter pan collar to go with all the Apple Coolaid. And maybe a first class seat. And no children asking for pink chewing gum and fanta. Apple users shouldn’t have to put up with that shit.
To match my new computer, I’d googled ‘celebrity plane airport’ to see what celebs wear on planes, and then chucked the contents of my wardrobe around in an effort to emulate. I don’t think it worked; no one stared at me as if I might be somebody, even when I wore my sunglasses in the terminal and got my Macbook out and flashed it around a bit at the security check. Dammit I knew I should have worn a leopard-printed bedsheet loosely coiled about my neck. And been born someone else.
Oh well, it didn’t matter because of all the holiday and surprises ahead.
The first surprise was MATILDA the musical in Melbourne on the way. We hadn’t told the children that the tickets were booked and told them instead that we were going for a walk after lunch – “Oh look, there’s the Princess Theatre, gosh what are all those people doing there, there must be something amazing happening…” While I’m saying this I’m filming the children with my phone. Not all that subtle.
“It’s Matilda Mum, are we going?” “YES, we’ve got tickets, SURPRISE!!!” (proceeds to get all wobbly with phone and excited, far more so than the SURPRISE! recipients). Most underwhelming reveal video ever. Later I accidentally deleted it, which is kind of a good thing because there’s something really sad about a mother trying to get her twin tweens to be passionate.
Now I am a musical tragic (which undoes all my newly polished Macbook sav), so I’m not to be trusted to accurately review any musical, but you can definitely trust Richard’s review, because he has no patience for silly twats breaking into song when they could just get on and say it in half the time without all the drama. He said it was “amazing” and looked every bit as thrilled with it as I did. Well maybe not every bit; I mean I cried tears of joy at the brilliance of it. Please just go and see it, I can’t do it justice. with my words. Ronald Dahl and Tim Minchin should be enough words to see you through.
We went back to the airport hotel (I love a good airport hotel – so easy, so shiny and comfy with great lighting in the bathroom so you can clean up your eyebrows before you get all effortlessly chic on holiday) and I couldn’t sleep for wishing I was the little girl who played Matilda and then berating myself for being childish and jealous. I made myself think practically about the next day’s trip to Vietnam and what I needed to put in each child’s bag to sufficiently shut them up on an eight hour flight. I quickly fell asleep because boring.
The next surprise was that we didn’t fly to Vietnam, we flew to Cambodia. This was not a good Matilda surprise. And this is how it happened, I will try to be brief: –
Most of flight goes well. Watch two charming Irish films (check out Sing Street), read half a book, do some writing for a couple of hours on new computer, read a bit more book, play a few games of cards, successfully fend off other attempts to engage with children. Start to feel a bit queasy a short way into second go with computer and have to put it away and breathe. Breathing material smells like farty feet. Quease turns ominous and have to flap about for a sick bag. Sick bag doesn’t seem to have a opening. Scrabble about and discover that there is a secret tear off top. HOW FUCKING RIDICULOUS, who was the bright spark who put an invisible tear off top on a sick back? What the fucking fuck? Is this some kind of sick joke (haha)?
I’m not sick. I sleep a bit instead. Woken by crying child, just in time to flap about with stupid sick bag (thank heavens for pre-prepared flap removal) and catch her vomit. Child two starts to complain, more sick bags prepared. Child three chimes in….you get the picture.
Meanwhile Typhoon in faraway corner of region (source of queasiness) sends heavy rains and storm over Ho Chi Minh, runway floods. Pilot aborts landing just as we are about to touch down. Plane circles city for an hour during which time six sick bags are filled by Bignell children. Finally prepare for landing, close in on runway, runway still flooded, pilot aborts second landing attempt. As we screech back up into the air and I shove aside questions about empty fuel tanks and where the parachutes are, I clutch my three warm sick bags and wonder whether there has been a lower point in my life.
Eventually land in Phnom Penh and sit on tarmac for another two hours which is exciting especially since farty feet smell is in fierce competition with the stench of vomit (you just can’t catch ’em all). I want to cry for my failed attempt at effortless chic (replaced by haggard slop, says the mirror when I eventually get to look in one) and my lost smug (disappeared into sick bags). Not even a ROSE GOLD MACBOOK PRO could save me.
This would never happen to the little girls who play Matilda.
We got to Ho Chi Minh eventually. To our hotel by midnight. I loved everything from the minute we got off that plane. We’d been on it for 12 hours. I loved the warm air, the lights, the city noises, the smiling faces. Our hotel. The vodka in the mini bar. Especially the vodka in the mini bar. And the fact that we’d survived.
We’ve had adventures since. Good adventures of culture and history and food. I will share them in suitably worldly, hopefully less wordy posts as soon as I can.
And as I sit in my gorgeous Raffles-esque hotel room with my chic new computer I sense there might well be a little bit of smug creeping back. I’d better knock that on the head (just trying to cross a road in Ho Chi Minh will take care of that).
Much love xxxx
PPS Dear Sony Vaio, I still love you very much. You’ve been a loyal companion and I’m not done with you. I just don’t want to carry your heavy frame about anymore, and I think you need to stay home given that updates seem to stress you horribly these days. I promise not to let the children near you with their grubby hands and their zombie games. Thank you for your years of service. x