We were both in pieces, our little world we had built these past few months in Vietnam had been shattered. The most incredible little life had been taken from us and in our hearts we knew we could no longer stay in this country, we could no longer accomplish what we set out to achieve. We felt like we had let Princess down, we had rescued her from that coffee shop and promised that we would get her home to England safe and sound where her new life with us can begin. However now we were just hours away from burying her, something we never ever thought we would have to do, not for a long long time anyway.
We received an email that same day from the vet stating that Princess’s cause of death was due to internal bleeding of the intestines, most probably caused by the ingestion of something poisonous. This didn’t ease our feelings or help process her death, it only made us feel more like we let her down, like we could have prevented this in someway. We were always careful when we took her out for walks knowing that Vietnam was still a country that had a dog meat trade and dog poisoning was not too uncommon. Not careful enough it would seem because somehow and somewhere she managed to ingest something lethal, and we were none the wiser. Blaming ourselves wasn’t and still isn’t going to bring Princess back, but it’s just the stages I assume you go through with a bereavement.
During the course of that distressing day we spoke with our families and it was clear that they wanted us home, and we wanted to go home. Our five months here in Vietnam had been full of problems and issues, but this felt like the final straw, our precious dog who was on the brink of a new life had been taken from us and we could carry on here no more. Despite both our families and ourselves wanting to get home as soon as we can we simply didn’t have the funds to, we had around half the money, enough to get one of us home. Thankfully however our parents put together what they could to help us fund our return trip home, and for that we are forever grateful. Within hours of our contact with family members we had bus and plane tickets booked, tomorrow our three day long journey home would begin, the nightmare was almost over. There was one last and incredibly important thing we needed to do though, bury Princess.
The evening came and we enlisted the help of a friend who runs a local animal rescue centre, she knew of a nice and quiet place to bury her where she had buried many dogs who had also sadly passed. We arrived at the location, just by the river where no one would disturb our little girl, and began to search for the perfect spot to lay her to rest. We found somewhere just right and began to dig through the tough ground until the blisters started forming on our hands, the agony from those blisters was worth it just to be able to put her at peace and say our final goodbyes. It was the hardest goodbye I have ever had to do, the four months the three of us had together were amazing and it was truly incredible to see her transform from that timid little dog cowering in a corner to the healthy and happy dog that she became. Princess will always have a big place in our hearts and the memories of her will never fade, she will never be forgotten and her spirit will forever live on. Rest in peace little girlie, I’m sorry we couldn’t give you the new life you deserved.
We didn’t sleep much that night, despite the tiring day there was just too much going on in our heads, too much had happened. Our last morning in Da Nang was spent seeing friends and saying our goodbyes before we departed that afternoon on a sleeper bus headed for the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. The 15 hour bus ride was tiring, but at least the most uncomfortable part of our journey home was over, and so we arrived in the capital at 6am, jumped in the first taxi we saw, and headed for the Noi Bai International Airport. A 12 hour wait was ahead of us before we could fly out of Vietnam, but not before we discovered some further bad news.
Half an hour after arriving at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi we sat down with our breakfast and coffee ready to binge watch the TV series Dexter, anything to pass away the time. As my partner went to retrieve her laptop and phone from her bag she discovered that they were not where she had packed them some 17 hours ago. They had been stolen whilst she slept on the sleeper bus, some low life had clearly seen her take them out briefly and decided to pounce the moment her eyelids closed for the night. It felt like one thing after the other, everything that could have gone wrong did and I couldn’t begin to understand how my partner must have felt losing not only her possessions but the work and memories that were stored on them. For a break we could not catch, even if we had a net the size of a house it seemed.
There was little we could do but focus on getting home now, and so our time to board our flight to Bangkok finally arrived. A few hour wait in Bangkok went by and soon we were on a flight to Doha in Qatar, 7 hours of watching in flight movies and eating airline food passed before we arrived in the deserts of Doha. We were in the capital of Qatar for a mere hour before we boarded our final flight of our incredibly long journey home, England was getting closer by the hour. More in flight movies and airline food came and went before we touched down in our country of birth, and whilst there was relief within us there was also this immense sadness as we had always imagined that the moment we returned home it would be with a fluffy white dog in our arms. Coming back to England without her after all that we’d promised still didn’t feel right, but then neither did staying in Da Nang. England would be home again now for the foreseeable future where we can spend time with our families, regroup and see what the future holds for us.
Saying goodbye to Vietnam was one of the easiest things to do, saying goodbye to our little Princess was by far the hardest. We’ve left a piece of our hearts in Vietnam, but I know that in spirit she is still with us each and everyday. Our five months living and working in Da Nang certainly taught us much and we came out of it stronger than when we arrived. I hope that one day we can look past our negative experiences and visit Vietnam again, because despite its flaws it still is such a beautiful country where the three of us made many happy memories.
(I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who read this. I know it’s a lot to get through but it really has helped me by writing these four parts. Writing is my way of expressing the thoughts and feelings that I struggle to talk about in person, and so I would definitely recommend anyone who goes through depression, anxiety or anything else and needs to talk to anyone out there who might be listening to consider simply writing. I have no idea whether anyone at all will read what I have written here, but still it is just good to get it all out).