Sunday, December 4, 2011

the dark side of vietnam

Trời ơi!! I have found myself saying this (which basically translates to OMG in English) quite often this week, mostly out of frustration. Not only was I trying to apply for grad school and spending Thanksgiving eating food from a Filipino fast food restaurant, but I am currently running into the classic "Vietnamese handle business and budgets very shadily differently" problem. I have been trying to watch my back about it, as I have been blindsided before, but unfortunately have found myself here again. I am reaching a point where I think I need to get out of Ho Chi Minh City for awhile.

Which makes it a good thing that I am leaving for Da Lat tomorrow. The main reason I am headed there is for the midterm Fulbright "enrichment seminar", but I am going a little early to look at the alleged bird collection they have in Da Lat. So looking forward to that. I will have some time to relax in between then and the meeting as well and will be trekking through the Da Lat plateau with other Fulbrighters for some stress-free fun.

I have been trying to think of some creative tactics to redirect my recent frustrations with Vietnam. For example, the city is very noisy. No matter what time of day, what day of the week, or what day of the year, somebody is honking, somebody is hammering, and somebody is yelling (although allegedly during Tet holiday it is a ghost town in HCMC--this statement will be verified near the end of January). My theory of noise pollution bringing the world to end has certainly not been disproved over here. However, I have thought of an ingenious solution to drowning out the calamity outside your window. If you play a selection of Pink Floyd songs (Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (Disc 2) is a good one), then I have noticed that what was once ruckus, is now just appropriate sound effects to the music. Disarray of motorbike and taxi honks at 630PM traffic? Hardly discernible with "Time" playing in the background. 5AM construction and drilling on a Sunday morning? Try "Comfortably Numb" on repeat and you will have no problem lulling yourself back to sleep.

Bottom line to not losing your sanity in Vietnam: If you do not seek the brighter side of things, you will not survive. So as to not end this post on a bad note, I'll post some of the more lovely little things I have helped me see the beauty of this place.
saigon at night
the first time I see butter and it is served with french fries and sugar
feeding the little chicks--that certainly were to be eaten later but it brought me joy it for the time being

people inviting you to their house and preparing a seafood buffet for you (yes we sit on the floor)

the most perfect little cafe called the cuckoo's nest that has a violinist and guitarist play every night

example of some of the english songs you can sing at vietnamese karaoke--we range from Yakety yak, to Yankee Doodle, to Yesterday , to my favorite--Elvis Presley's "You Ain't Nothing but a Ho"

and last but not least--jasmine flowers

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