We had a friend. His name was Italo. Italo is no longer our friend. Italo hates us.
I don’t remember which one is his real name to be honest, maybe Alessandro or Antonio. I don’t know. He called himself Italo Nguyen on Facebook, as he was an Italian guy travelling in Vietnam (Nguyen is the most common vietnamese surname). We liked calling him Italo and so that was it, Italoooo!! Funny guy to be honest, I quite liked him. However he was also very prickly and didn’t like the fact that me and David spent a lot of time making fun of him, always for some different reason.
We met Italo in Can Tho (always there!) incredible how in the first two days in Vietnam we created the spine of the whole journey. He was keen to buy a bike as well and wanted some companion for the way, however he was going to stay to a little longer than us in South Vietnam, so we just said to keep in touch and maybe we would meet again.
That happened in Da Nang, or better he asked us when we were going to Da Nang, we said “tomorrow”. We showed up the day after tomorrow, he stayed a day more there just to wait for us, but I mean…go ahead if you want, we take our time. We would be travelling by bus if we had to stick to a schedule.
Eventually, we passed by the hostel where Italo was staying to pick him up. We found him on the door taking his biblical time to say goodbye to the people at the hostel.
One of Italo’s problem was that he was slow….not just slow on the bike, but slow in getting ready, eating, saying goodbyes and shits like that. All normal, but when you travel like that, you really don’t want to be waiting for someone, otherwise everything is delayed and gets annoying. That’s why I like to travel alone and managed to travel only with David, as we had the same needs and kept the same rhythm.
Anyway back to the story. We pressed Italo to hurry up and sat off. After a couple of traffic lights we lost Italo…already…
We stopped after a few minutes to check where he was, but mostly because it was a nice spot where to take a picture from. I checked my phone, message from Italo “the candle of my bike doesn’t work, need to stop at the mechanic to repair it”.
David asked me “What’s up?”
“Italo is gone”
“Shall we go without him?”
“Yep, he stopped at the mechanic, it’ll take ages”
We kept going towards the Hải Vân Pass, it was nicely foggy and rainy, it’s meant to be one of the best spots of Vietnam, but we couldn’t see shit. Anyway arrived on the top of the pass, we stopped for lunch. At that point Italo called me asking where we were. I told him and he angrily said he was going to reach us and complained that we didn’t wait for him…well, I didn’t know he was going to fix his bike so quickly.
That was just the first of many misunderstanding with Italo.
Few days ago we were in Ninh Bình (somewhere fairly North of Vietnam, check the map, easier) and we were planning to go to Cat Bá, and island in Halong Bay. We slowly woke up and went to have breakfast at the hostel. There we started speaking with some travellers who told us that to reach Cat Bá we had to take a boat and the last boat was setting off at 2pm. We checked the clock 11am…the port which looked closest to Cat Bá was over 3 hours away (we were not even sure it was the right port). We had to leave NOW!
“Italoooo!! We have to leave now!”
He slowly turned to us, with his half-eaten croissant in the hand, looking startled wide-eyed (he was often looking wide-eyed, not just when he was surprised to be fair), interrupting a conversation with a girl that he met there, who he was filling who knows with which of his life stories.
“…but I want to change the oil to my bike first”
“Oh FFS!! You do it there, it can last another 150km!”
“No no, I want to do it now…”
“Ok, fuck off, go now.”
I turn to David and he:
“I need a money exchange first”
For some reason David never took out money, apparently he went travelling with a bag full of dollars that he was changing all the time, according to him it was cheaper, but I really have no idea how many dollars he brought with him to travel for months.
“Ok fuck it, I’ll go first, at least I check if the port is the right one. Be quick.”
I could rely on David to be quick, on the contrary of Italo.
Somehow we all left in a rush – and we all took 3 different ways, don’t ask why. I’m sure I picked the shortest ones though.
I didn’t stop at any traffic light, went full speed all the way, risking to die several times (as often happened), but eventually I made it, arrived to the port 10 minutes before 2pm, just to check a sign which I believe was saying that the last boat was actually at 3pm…There was still hope for the two fuckers who took their alternative ways. I text them the news and got the boat.
Eventually they both made it for the 3pm boat and we all arrived happily to Cat Bá. I say happily, but it wasn’t the case for Italo. That rushed trip was the last drop for Italo, he took a different hostel than us, he didn’t show up in the evenings and blocked us on social media. We never spoke to Italo again… Fucking childish, but I’m sorry about that, after all he is a good guy and he’s pretty funny.
By the way this story is public, and the picture of Italo is the above. He’s a musician from Bari and lives in Luxembourg. If anybody knows this guy I’d be happy to get in touch with him again. At least to say sorry.