Saigon Impressions

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Ever since I arrived in Saigon I have tried to figure out how to describe it. It is certainly different than any place I have ever been. So far my travels in SE Asia have taken me to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. All three places share many features of their cultures but Vietnam is a completely different animal.

There is a certain energy here -- on the same level as Bangkok, but somehow very different. The city is literally awake 24 hours a day. The other night I just happened to be awake at 4 AM (heh) and the streets were full of old men jogging, young people on motorcycles dressed up for a night on the town, women wearing the traditional triangle straw hats and carrying baskets of food to the market. The market was alive as well with everyone having a job to do: arranging eggs in pyramid piles, lining up sleeping (yet still alive, for now) chickens, chopping up big slabs of pork, setting out fruits and vegetables.

The noise is deafening all day every day, although after three days I have started to not notice it as much. There is always loud music playing or people shouting or dogs barking or sometimes it's just the steady river of motorcycles filling the wide tree-lined French-designed avenues.

And then there are the horns. It seems that the traffic laws require you to blow your horn at least once a minute. Definitely every time you come to an intersection you have to honk, as well as every time you turn a corner, every time you come up behind someone, and every time someone is coming towards you. Considering the streets are packed, you are therefore honking ALL THE TIME.

All of this action and yet I am setting a record for "Least Number of Pictures Taken on a Trip". I have been here three days and I have taken about five pictures. Saigon isn't the most picturesque place, at least not in the postcard sense. The beauty is in the friendly smiles; it is in a block of shophouses all selling pho noodles and all having the exact same sign out front; it is in a line of 50 boy-girl couples snuggling on their motorcycles on the sidewalk next to the park; it is in a young girl reaching into a plastic bag she has been carrying and pulling out a chicken by its feet; it is a grandmother on the back of a motorcycle with the calmest carefree face even as her grandson in front weaves in and out of the traffic.

Speaking of the traffic, Todd and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out where all of the motorcycles are going. We still have no idea.

3 Comments

Two observations . . . .

1) since you are writing more - than what I assume you have in a long time - your writing language is really taking hold. Especially in the last two entries. You are a wonderful writer, but, as I said, you are finding your writing voice, and it is beautiful!! Keep it up --- creativity suits you well. :-)

2) MAN! I don't know what I would do with all that noise. it would deaf-inately drive me bananas. as with any country or region, it would be interesting to see what the countryside or suburburn area is like in comparison to Saigon.

The commonality between all places you have traveled while in Asia, seems to be the friendly smiling people. Why do you think this is? Is it the culture? The fact you are American and so different than they? Or . . . . . ?

Happy Thanksgiving to you!!! We continue to, and will miss you!!

Love you!!

Beth,

Thanks for the compliments on the writing. Sometimes I walk around looking at stuff and I just try to think how to describe it. I wouldn't say it comes naturally, I have to think pretty hard. But every now and then I get inspiration. (This is not one of those times!)

The noise starts to go away after a while. You just get used to it. But yeah, I am very interested to see the countryside. I think my next trip will be to take the highway from Saigon north to Danang and Hue.

Yes, the smile is the one common demominator. I think people smile just because they are happy. Simple as that. It's just life. No need to get all stressed out and unhappy.

Amen to that!!! Stress is not a good factor to keep in one's life. Even though it crops up every so often.

I'm finding that I am less stressed, now that I am finished with my Master's degree!!! Well - actually, Dad and I are going to mail the FINAL draft off this afternoon once I make the recommended changes/tweeks from the committee, who HAVE already signed off on the paper.

AND I am looking forward to bringing creativity back into my life, i.e. writing, painting, ballet, concerts, festivals, decorating my little apartment to where it looks like a home rather than an office, etc.

Continue to look for challenges, and I'll do the same. We don't want to become old fuddy duddys who are content with just "being" in life. POOEY!!!

Love you!!

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This page contains a single entry by Stuart published on November 25, 2002 7:15 PM.

Pop Star was the previous entry in this blog.

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