Four years ago, I made the decision to move to Vietnam.
It was a momentous decision, but one which would take almost half a decade to become reality.
Yesterday was my last day in quarantine, and I was finally released into the chaotic world of Ho Chi Minh City.
My partner picked me up at my quarantine hotel, a surprise bouquet of beautiful red roses in hand. We headed back to our apartment which he’d had to occupy alone for half a year. Then we had brunch at an upscale cafe we first visited in September last year. We then went on to a Mediterranean food festival at a hangout spot near our apartment (they have a climbing wall there and I’m thinking of adopting climbing as my exercise of choice). Then we had a lovely, delicious dinner at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
It was a perfect day to start a new life chapter.
It’s funny how life takes us in unexpected turns. Back in 2017, I was apprehensively planning on becoming a full-time English teacher and using that as my way into Vietnam. I did partially follow through with that plan when I trained for and obtained my teaching certificate toward the end of the year.
But then an opportunity to work in Corporate Human Resources and more than double my meagre pay came up. I wavered back and forth: my dream of living abroad once again versus the easy option and moving to Bangkok from my parents’ suburban home.
In the end, the Bangkok job won out. I was persuaded by my future manager that this was an exciting role that represented the culmination of my university studies and long-time interest in behavioural economics: I’d be influencing human behaviour to create a learning culture on a large scale. That was a proposition I couldn’t turn down.
Fast forward half a year, another momentous and serendipitous event occurred: I met my partner on an extended trip to Luang Prabang. After a few weeks of messaging back and forth and long phone conversations, we both knew this was something special.
As the relationship progressed and things got more serious, we began to discuss plans that would bring our life paths together. He lived in Vietnam, I in Thailand. One of us would have to move to make this relationship work in the long run.
After several back-and-forths and a failed attempt to find a way for him to establish a career in Bangkok, it was decided that I would move to Vietnam.
Suddenly, I was back on the path I’d set myself in 2017, albeit under completely different circumstances. No longer a single teacher exploring wondrous foreign lands. I’d be moving in with my life partner and beginning a new chapter of life, settling down.
Then Covid happened and plans got pushed back, again and again.
But finally the puzzle pieces came together and we made it happen. I landed in Ho Chi Minh City two weeks ago to start my 14-day quarantine, and yesterday I was out and we officially moved in together.
You might find this strange, but there was no euphoric moment of reunion. No tears streaming down our faces. The red roses were a very pleasant surprise, and seeing him in the flesh again is wonderful.
But it didn’t feel life-changing.
It felt like coming home.
As I walked into our apartment which I’d seen countless times on WhatsApp calls and become pretty familiar with, I didn’t think to myself: Ohmygodweremovingintogether. I just walked in, put down my stuff, and we got on with the day.
It didn’t feel like walking into a strange, new apartment. It felt like coming home after any other normal day of work.
And it’s wonderful. I love that I feel this way.
Very early on in the relationship, I remember looking into his eyes one night and feeling like I’ve found home. That was the first time I realised that’s how I feel about him. He feels like home. And still does. Every text message, every phone call, every hug, every kiss.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m home at last.