Can you believe it? My fourth day here and I ran into an old friend! All the way over here in Vietnam! His name is San Miguel. We used to hang out a bit when I lived in Spanish Harlem, and suddenly right in the middle of the market…there he was! Well hello, Delicious. We meet again.
But truth is I did not move to Asia to drink San Miguel. Or to eat KFC. Or pizza – why does every person here ask if I like pizza? Just because I’m American does not mean I love pizza. Ok, fine, I do love pizza (damn you, Accurate Stereotype!), but that’s beside the point. The question is: why did I move to Vietnam?
Because I’m a big, fat dummy.
Turns out eating ice and crossing the road are about the same thing here in Da Nang, Vietnam. All travel blogs say Don’t Drink the Water. Just like that: bold, italicized and underlined to let you know they Really Mean It. And no ice, they remind you. After all ice is water. But the thing is, it’s hot here. Like crazy mo’fo’ f-ing hot. And I’m here for two years. How can I possibly survive without ice? So when faced with my first Vietnamese coffee – iced coffee – I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and slurped like a maniac, hoping to make it to the bottom of the cup before too much ice had seeped its way into my body to twist and mutate my intestines.
It’s the same strategy I’m using to cross the road. In America we call them traffic lights. In South Africa we call them robots. Here we call them…nothing. Why bother naming something you don’t believe in? I say “believe”because driving here is a religion. You believe you have the right of way. Always. You believe those annoying red and green lights above the road are for decoration. And, in order to cross the road, you must blindly, stupidly believe that somehow you will make it to the other side.
Why did the Vietnamese chicken cross the road?
It didn’t, Stupid.
Two years in South Africa has turned me lazy. I can speak the language, drive around (even if it is on the wrong – I mean “other” – side of the road), recommend good restaurants to tourists and even fake a South African accent when absolutely necessary. I have a South African bank account, hair stylist and temporary residency. I’m all settled in.
But now as I embark on the next Big Adventure, complete with new language, food and continent, I am faced with an all-too-familiar challenge: getting the visa.