I found this old post I wrote when I thought we’d stick to the original plan and leave after two years in Vietnam. We stayed five. However today I really, actually move on. In re-reading this, I realize how much Vietnam has grown on me in the past few years. I like her even more now than I did when I wrote the “letter” below. Vietnam, it’s been great!
When we met I was overwhelmed by your frenzy. I slapped your mosquitoes, hated your heat and feared your scooters. Time and time again you made me wonder why I’d come. In our two years together I watched from the other side of the world as I lost two of the dearest people in my life in my first few months here and spent half my salary to fly away from you. To put it lightly, we were unlikely friends.
And yet, I will miss you. Our roller coaster ride included so, so many highs. Never again will I see a beach so beautiful and deserted. Never again will I be such an anomaly in my own neighborhood. Never again will my awkwardness and lack of language be so quickly forgiven – and compensated for by those who should resent me. I will never again meet such purely lovely children who want to learn and love school and work to ridiculous extents just to become smarter.
No scooter yet lies beneath me, but I am suddenly aware of becoming just a little bit Vietnamese. After 8 months here in Da Nang, Vietnam, the previously weird begins to morph into the vaguely familiar. Although Home with a capital H remains Michigan, little guy h home has become right here. The view off my balcony – of five karaoke bars, two lit up neon bridges and the newest Dragon Bridge that really, actually breathes fire – is somewhat normal. I’m comfortable packing my own toilet paper anywhere I go and don’t ever consider drinking water from the tap, even when I’m thirsty and half asleep. Chopstick by chopstick, I’m adapting.
It’s great to be happy.
In the six week hiatus since the last post I have jetted off to America, had an incredible three weeks with my family, struggled through a round of goodbyes that was no less than devastating, and emerged on the other side with one great, big, silly grin. Why? Because the day after I arrived back in Vietnam a present landed on my doorstep…JD.
Who loves the spa? This kid right here…the one typing in a semi-daze after her stressful two hour massage and facial. Yeah, life’s rough sometimes. Today was my first trip to the spa in my whole hard knock life. Before today that was a source of pride for me. I was too down-to-Earth to get caught up in all that seaweed wrap and hot rock fluff.
Now I take it all back. I am no longer down-to-Earth; I am floating away on a cloud that smells like eucalypts leaves and lavender infused with love. And I’m never coming back.
I feel 27 years younger, which doesn’t make sense but I’m too relaxed for logic. Even when facing the siege of maniac scooters on the way home I couldn’t manage to awaken any feeling but wonderful. Now that I have gloated profusely, I am back to my unicorn rainbow land of happiness.
Let the moonlight shine upon you and open your heart to the splendor of the universe. Believe in leprechauns and fairies, friends.
Yes, folks, there’s a typhoon headed our way…again. Da Nang, Vietnam is forecast to be rocked by Mother Nature in T-minus five hours. And I’m ready. A few weeks ago there was rumor of a typhoon (complete with much stocking up of canned goods and beer) only for it to fizzle into heavy rain by the time it reached the coast. For most people, this is a good thing, but I was disappointed. I had been looking forward to sending home harrowing stories of swimming through city streets.
Having never actually been in a typhoon I assume they are a fun excuse to cuddle up indoors for a few days and then awaken to a wonderful new world of romantic canals and impromptu gondolas. I imagine calling for a canoe to paddle me around town once the storm is over. There might even be a parasol involved. And all the while that I am living comfortably in my post-typhoon water world I will be earning bragging rights for surviving a natural disaster. It’s surely a win-win.
A few weeks late, but fantastic nonetheless.
Remember how excited you used to get for show and tell at school? Or how you’d jump around when your mom brought in class cupcakes for your birthday? Remember how amazing it was when the teacher would let you use the glitter markers? Or make you line leader for the day? Now imagine being a nine-year-old once again and welcoming a surprise visitor. No, he’s not the principal, or somebody’s dad. He’s a dragon – a dancing lion dragon who does gymnastics on teeny, tiny suspended discs and then wiggles his dragon butt when you pet him.
Ahhhh!!!! Best day ever!!!!!!!!!
Speaking of the people you meet when you travel…
I don’t usually take pictures of random people but this fine chap insisted – because he wanted to see the picture afterwards. Anyway this sums up a whole other side of Vietnam, one that’s not a gorgeous beach or an ornate building. Here’s real life Vietnam, smiling for the camera.
Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. Although it may be indefinable and indescribable, it is also undeniable – certain things are beautiful. And others aren’t. The Taj Mahal: beautiful. The city dump: not. Sure there are the artsy among us who find beauty where it isn’t, but I’m talking about cheerleader shallow pretty; the things that smack you as gorgeous the moment you meet. They are the pristine snow topped mountain peaks that show off on the covers of travel blogs. They’re the magnificent old architecture that makes Paris Paris and London London. They may be interesting. They may be historical. Above all they are beautiful.
So what about the ugly things? What good are they to us? Why hang out with the zitty adolescent of travel destinations when you could be with the prom queen? Is there any value to ugly?