The Old Man

by James Murtaugh, Jan 29, 2002 | Destinations: Vietnam / Halong Bay

Halong Bay, Vietnam. We board a nice boat with cabins with bathrooms. It is misty and the islands are grey ghosts. I do not lock my cabin. The crew notices and approve my trust in them. We stop at a tourist site. Coming back to the boat I see small boats with kids. I give each kid a toy but am short one for a boy. Running to my cabin I grab a toy car. The boy's boat is right outside and I throw him the car. He is very happy. A crew member, an old man watches and hugs me for my kindness. Later he see's me slip money to a girl in a small boat. Watching the islands slip by, the old man is looking at my right hand fingers. I wonder what the hell he is doing? He speaks no english. Then I get it. He is looking for a wedding ring and I show him my left hand. He is very happy to see the ring. The next day he invites me to tea with the crew on the rear of the boat. He smokes a bamboo pipe and wants me to try. I decline. Soon our cruise is over and another boat comes out for us. As I start to leave the old man is hugging me and kissing my coat as everyone looks on. My boat pulls away and I watch our old boat. The old man has his back toward me. He turns around and seeing me gives a big smile and wave. I give it right back to him. Just a little bit of magic in a far off place called Vietnam.

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