Saturday, February 12, 2011

Some favourite Vietnam things....

Just for you, ma, here's some of my favourite things.....(I'm not going to include foods - it'd take about a couple of years to write!)

The smell of warm damp tropical greenness

Smiles and games with the children

The patch of sunlight that comes through the mosquito net at 5.30am

Ca phe sua (nong hai Saigon) any time any where 

Stopping on the footpath to watch old nanas with crinkly faces, beady dark eyes and pointy bamboo hats carrying veg to the market. And having them smile back and stop to talk

Walks and yoga on the beach

The way it takes just a couple of years of alternating strong sun and intense moisture to make buildings look prematurely ancient, in a very beautiful and atmospheric way

Understanding the naughty jokes of the women I work with. And being able to crack some too

Squatting to play the Vietnamese version of 'Uno' with Thuy and other friends in a village doorway, slamming cards down, crunching watermelon seeds and joking around for hours on end

Riding my bike along the winding mud paths between the rice paddies in the sun

A cold beer as the sun goes down at La Plage, playing chess with Stephanie-oi (and keeping an eye out for Dons, of course, eh missus?!)

Picking salad leaves and herbs from Chi Thong's garden, as we prepare the evening meal. Being considered family enough and capable enough to help.

Riding on the back of friends' motorbikes as we zip along, wrapped in warm nights, and tilting my head up to look at the stars

Thought-provoking discussions with other development and health workers - life stories, achievements, ambitions, ideas, different opinions....

Beaming smiles when I banter in Vietnamese at the market

Hair washes and head massages (and the way it's something that all women treat themselves to, regularly, and cheaply) 

A glass of iced sweet lemon juice, with a tiny, salty, preserved peach sunk in it, on a hot hot day

Cooking experiments and hanging out watching movies and 'The Good Wife' with my buddy Sam, before a beer at her local (600m away on the beach)

Watching and listening as my interpreter works and gets into what she's explaining - and seeing people understand the concepts

Getting lovely emails from lovely friends at home. Thank you so much

The rare but deeply special appreciation of imported treats - a small bowl of olives, some brie, a glass of good red wine (as opposed to Dalat!) - a reminder me that these things are so much better when you can't have them whenever you like

The everyday enjoyment of simple local food - fresh vegetables, seafood and rice (and the communal spirit of preparing and eating)

Rice, in all it's forms, but particularly when it's just freshly cooked. A little bit sticky and moist and utterly delicious (I know I said I wasn't including food, but it's just too big a part of life to leave off the list)

Simple text message conversations with my friends Khai and Thuong in Hanoi, who speak no English at all. Despite the language barrier we have a strong bond. I like to think of them, and know they think of me too

A Mango Guapo at Mango Mango with the 'Friday family' after the stressful journey - you know who you are guys xxx

Sitting outside looking over the fields, having afternoon snacks with the kids and staff at the small rural centre

Having more, and better conversations with my parents than I ever had in the UK

The view to the right along the river from the bridge as you ride back to Hoi An from Cua Dai

Watching lightening storms from the rooftop of Cargo - with girlfriends, something dark and chocolatey and lots of giggles

The astonishing depth of love mothers can have for their children, and the un-ending and un-complaining care and attention they give them

The beautiful quiet dignity of most of these people

Observing and being infected with the child-like joy at karaoke - a few hours of freedom for people who have to conform and follow rules in almost every other aspect of their existance. singing, dancing, drinking, losing track of time....

The noise and bustle of the markets, and the freshness of everything

Witnessing the magic of my nephew's transformation from a baby into a little boy, via Skype. The astonishingly rapid development of his language and communication, his funny faces, his tummy, the squiggle wiggle, and the little games we play. Knowing that he knows me. Thank you internet, you crazy flying electromagnetic fantastical thing you

Listening to the pounding tropical rain on the metal roof, when I'm snug in bed

Knowing how lucky I am to be seeing this world from the very inside

Knowing how lucky I am to be able to leave

1 comment:

  1. wow! that produced smiles and tears here - how wonderful to be so appreciative and positive. Thank you.