Wednesday 6 October

Finished packing early, and decide I am better-off sitting around at the bus station than in my living-room. I have just enough time to pop into Boots to buy a sandwich for lunch, and some rehydration salts for the inevitable, and still be at the Broadmarsh bus station needlessly early. I’m still not sure whether to expect John to be coming with us—the antimalarial Lariam pills made him very ill and even last night he was not sure if he would be able to come.

I try to read ‘Pole to Pole’ by Michael Palin, which seems appropriate, but I am constantly distracted, looking out for Jay and John. Of course, when they do arrive, they startle me by approaching from the wrong direction.

We plan when we get to Heathrow to make James believe that John is not with us. But we are foiled when James notices an extra, and not-particularly-insignificant, rucksack next to mine where I am minding them while John goes to do some last-minute shopping.


We have about four hours to pass before our plane actually leaves. We are sitting in one of Heathrow’s cafés when a young American at the next table, having noticed John’s copy of the Lonely Planet guide book, asks us why we are going to Vietnam. He is clearly agitated, and suddenly accuses us of being ‘hippy middle-class travellers’ going to ‘patronise’ the Vietnamese, who do not deserve to have us visit them. We are somewhat taken aback, but few moments later he turns around again and apologises. He recommends that we visit the beach at Nha Trang, but warns us to stay away from the War Crimes Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. It transpires that his father went missing in action in the American Vietnamese war, and that to this day he has no idea whether he was killed quickly, or as he fears, tortured in the enemy prisoner camps.