The pre-departure day flies by quickly, nicely and a bit vacuum-like. I cycle to Soho for a swim before breakfast with a Spanish colleague at Hoxton Hotel Holborn, where we eat quinoa porridge decorated with crispy bee pollen and juicy berries and drink black coffee, accompanied by Frank Sinatra’s soft voice in the background. We try and have breakfast in different places at least a few times a month – because London has so many wonderful options and to practice my Spanish and her English. Today’s treat is on her – her way of wishing me a good trip.
The work day consists of a management course lasting from 9-5, with one break only, which I spend with my one Danish colleague at Nude Espresso, where we discuss the state of office world affairs and which outfit to choose for the Christmas party, for which we just received invites – James Bond black tie casino theme; elegant Bank location.
As the course wraps up, I cycle home, shower, catch up on the most important work that the course prevented me from getting done. Once that’s done, around 10pm, I’m so tired I fall asleep right away and sleep straight through to 5am, when I take an Uber to Kings Cross, and from there, the Piccadilly Line to Christmassy Heathrow, where I get some tea and Monocle, find the gate and finally am able to stare peacefully into space and breathe: so far, so good. As romantic as it can be to travel early in the morning while most of the city is asleep, as nervous does it also make me: what if all Uber drivers had been sleeping, or the tube had decided to sleep a bit longer… that sort of thing. I still have some way to go to become a cool jet-setter.
John Lewis’ Christmas ad is launched at 8am today — perfect timing. I’ve been waiting for it since last Christmas. The well-known formula — clever casting of a cute kid, no lines, a plot about giving rather than receiving and an up-and-coming star singing a popular track, in this case Oasis’s Half the World Away, about a girl looking at the lonely man on the moon and eventually sending him a telescope carried by a balloon so he can look down on her waving up at him.
Rather than a balloon defying astrophysics with its moon landing, I’m transported via a huge dream-liner to the most polished and well-equipped (spa, fitness, cinema, parks with fountains…) airport I’ve ever seen. I spend the 13 hours to Singapore on watching the Pixar-movie Inside Out (crying), a documentary about Lego, the last to episodes of Friends, four episodes of GoT and, finally, the indie movie Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. A pretty emotional programme that does the trick — makes have a day go really quickly.
In Changi I wait for three hours, after which I finally doze off on the 1-hour ride to Saigon. My body is pretty full of adrenaline by then, though, so I sleep quite lightly. Seven weeks since the last time I saw my friend! I land between fields and palm trees and do what I can to keep my impatience in check throughout the immigration process.