I wrote this last year and was unsure about publishing, but have decided to do so one year on…
After being in Malaysia for 364 days (residency rules) I was determined to travel with my then three-year-old to other parts of Southeast Asia before heading back to the U.K. I adore Vietnam and my daughter’s father is from there, so what better place was there to start? With that in mind and following an invitation from friends to visit them in Vung Tau, off Daisy and I set.
I did anything but set off with the intention of meeting up with my daughter’s father (rather long story) but that’s exactly we did.
Our first night in Vietnam and my love of the country immediately came flooding back in a swell of positivity. What’s more, my daughter’s dad is from there. I got out my phone and looked to see if Daisy’s dad’s number was there. Of course it wouldn’t be, I thought to myself (since my Spanish SIM had been deactivated I’d lost various numbers including his). But there it was! It had to be a sign, I decided, and I dialled. There was a lot of noise in the background and I could barely hear the man who answered, so I said “one minute” and SMSd asking if it was him.
“Yes I am. Who are you?” Came the reply.
I said who it was half expecting to be ignored but hoping that I wouldn’t be and the conversation continued.
We arranged to meet in his hometown- his home turf. I was nervous; how would he be with our daughter? How would he be with me?
I asked my Vietnamese friend and host in Vung Tau to call and just get a feel for how he felt about things. Still rather anxious, I contacted a friend who’d moved to his town and asked if he could possibly babysit for a little while, while I met my daughter’s dad and set the scene. No problem, he said.
It felt like things were falling into place; my daughter could meet her daddy and I had supportive friends nearby. I booked a hotel on Agoda that was near the sea, so Daisy would be entertained should he not turn up at all and to the airport we went.
I booked a flight for Thursday- Wednesday. We’d have an evening settling in and the big day on Friday. Tuesday night I got a message from my friend saying he had had a motorbike accident. He wasn’t sure he’d be up and about by Friday. Oh dear. I couldn’t call things off now and needed to trust it would go well.
Friday came and I found a really nice little cafe called “Merry” We arranged to meet there at 11 ( or so u thought). Plan ( the best laid plans.,,) to get Daisy a haircut and then she could put on her favourite dress. What happened- a lift from cafe merry on a motorbike ( Daisy’s first ride) hairdresser’s closed; another bike ride to one rather far away and an initial meeting outside the hairdressers. Ah well. It was hardly conducive to talking but at least he took us to the meeting point on his motorbike ( Daisy’s third trip).
He smiled a little, barely talked and seemed it bit lost. You know how you get some people who are just hands on with kids and can relate to them and others who feel a bit awkward and don’t know what to do? Well he fell into this category.
“Would you like to see some photos of Daisy as a baby?” I asked,
Thankfully I don’t have any dodgy photos on my phone so I handed it over and he and my little one scrolled through; a real ice-breaker. Daisy then asked for a nap so we agreed I would phone after she’d woken up and go for lunch.
At lunch and Daisy was entertained by the fact there were chickens out the back. He took her to see them a couple of times which was nice.
Throughout lunch, I noticed he kept offering her water which I appreciated as Daisy needs lots of encouragement to drink enough.
What to do next? It was raining, so I asked him about a play area and he took us to the supermarket with a nice playzone.
A stop to get dinner and it was time for bed. We arranged to meet after breakfast and go to the beach/ pool.
The next days
We did both beach and pool and it was a nice morning. (Why didn’t he bring swimwear, though?)
Daisy was tired then and went for a nap.
From there things went somewhat better- a trip to a play area; to the beach and a few more cafe stops. He barely communicated with words (to Daisy’s and my disappointment) but he did express that he cared for Daisy through gesture and turning up on time.
A super long nap later and he was ‘busy’ (his mate had got a new speaker and they were doing karaoke). Not to mind, Daisy was a bit tired so we ordered food in the room and rested. He came by early evening and we hoped he had planned a river boat trip. We did the trip- after going to the wrong location, being told at the right location the boats were full, wait forty minutes and getting rained on walking to the furthest boat away that there was.
Our last morning was spent over coffee then back at the room while I packed- Daisy didn’t want to stay alone with daddy in the cafe.
I bought him a smart phone to stay in touch with photos etc. I hoped he would and that this bond could somehow be built on across the miles. He hasn’t contacted much but we have since been to see him again. I don’t knows what their future will hold, but at least a bridge has been built…