End of the Rainbow

A lush green part of Vietnam, the Central Highlands, was where I was in March 2020. I had had a flight booked for March 17, but on the day prior, it was decided by government officials that people with my passport couldn’t fly into Phnom Penh. Which meant… waiting.

I spent a couple of weeks at a guesthouse on the edge of this lake, on the outskirts of Da Lat / Photo: Bovin Wook

‘Sitting out the pandemic’ in a green place was the plan. Then 5 months went by.

Five months passed. I was in Da Lat, hoping to lay low and keep waiting there until the ‘end of the pandemic.’ But it wasn’t going to happen for who-knew-how-much-longer. My choices were to bear with the storm season or to go somewhere else and try sometthing new. This was a difficult move to make, since I didn’t want to do anythign new at all. I wanted to go home. To reunite with the places I could undersatnd, to see the people who were closest to me, and to feel at ease, with those comfortable things. A routine is so good for me.

So, I made a new one. In Da Lat. Before shifting to Ho Chi Minh City (Solitude / 2021), I stayed and thought and focused and mostly looked outside from my balcony windows, and went out to them, if it wasn’t raining. The storms came, and I was done. This book is about what it felt like to experience a famous tourist town at thevery strt of the pandemic, quiet as anything, stillness all around, and a great deal of discomfort within the confusion of starting-days-of-covid, or ‘coronavirus’, as we all called it, then.

I hung out in places like this, a lot. / Photo: Diễm Phan

Celebrating the end of the rainbow

Moving on was a choice. A difficult one; it was hard to move to yet another place in the country where I didn’t know anyone, and hav to figure it all out, when Ig ot there. But I am a city person. Ho Chi Minh City was where I’d go, and that’s the story here. Choosing our choices, moving on, despite not knowing what would happen when we got there, all the thinking-that-through but also anticipating it. Would it work there? I didn’t know. Da Lat: this was a pretty place, but it was tough being on my own all the time. Like, all the time.

The book: I did enjoy writing it. End of the Rainbow; more than anything, it’s a celebration: of quiet, of peace, and it’s also an acknowledgement of the zillion steps it takes to reach those things. If you do, when you do, you’ll know. At least, that’s my bet. This book shares why I’ve come to think so.

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Update: March 2024