Friday, June 19, 2009

Pineapples of Vietnam

It is amazing how little we all know about certain parts of American History. Take the Vietnam War for example. What little we know about the Vietnam War was learned from the internet, a few family members, and a two minute lecture in High School history classes. I did not know that it is actually called the American War in Vietnam. I did not know that it had been classified as genocide. I did not even know the full effects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese population. All of a sudden I was thrust into a culture that I knew nothing about. I knew that pho was tasty and that there is nothing better to eat than Vietnamese eggrolls. But really, how much does that matter?

I ate alone the morning we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (from here on will be called Saigon). All the parents who had come to meet students at the halfway point on our world journey were holding large signs and waving and crying. And I wished that I had someone down there waving at me. Luckily my day brightened with the arrival of a young group of Vietnamese girls who held out a huge sign that welcomed Semester at Sea to Saigon. I spent the first day in Saigon with my friends Win, Zach, and Jill. We went to a tailor and ordered custom dresses and bought Vietnamese rice hats at a chaotic market. We went to a chain restaurant named Pho 24 where we ate delicious pho noodle soup and eggrolls. That afternoon we decided to go to the War Remnants Museum. It was very difficult to see America from a point of view like the Vietnamese. They did not hold grudges, but they did not sugarcoat history either. I can’t really say much about the museum. It was one of those things that I can simply hope more people have a chance to experience. We spent the rest of the day buying pirated DVDs and souvenirs for all the folks back home.

The next day we took a bus to the Mekong Delta. Our first day next to the Delta was spent eating a box lunch on a boat before continuing to a candy factory on the river. Coconut chewy candies and ginger rice crispy treats were being cooked right before our eyes. We got to try and make rice paper, have tea with the locals, and even do a little shopping. Later that day we went into town and spent the afternoon wandering through the market areas next to our hotel. There were fruits of all different shapes and sizes. Bright pink dragonfruit, tiny bananas, and the fuzzy Chom Chom (which tastes oddly like a flavorless kiwi) filled my belly. That night we ate dinner alongside the river and watched the houseboats float by.

The next morning was an early start for all of us. After a 5:30 am wake-up call we walked down to the riverbanks and boarded a long boat on the river. We went into the heart of the Mekong, home of the world’s largest floating market. People in tiny boats would pull alongside us and offer anything from mangos to bottled water. They were interested in us just as much as we were interested in them. Now I have to admit that I was glad I skipped breakfast. There is nothing in the world as tasty as fresh pineapple that has been sliced into a beautiful creation. Then we bought a pound of mangos for $1! My fingers were sticky and covered in all sorts of fruit juice by the end of our time in the market. This was not the end of our river trip and we continued on, watching the people sleep in hammocks on the houseboats. Every boat had eyes on the front and it felt like a magical world. That evening we returned to the ship and wandered around Saigon searching for DVDs and other cheap technology.

The fourth day in Vietnam was one of my unique days. Up until this point on the voyage, Cape Town had been the only place I traveled alone. It was pretty easy in Cape Town; someone always spoke English, I always could see the ship, and I never left the nice part of town. When I traveled alone in Saigon it was a completely different experience! I have no words that can give justice to the terrors of Vietnamese traffic. Imagine crossing I-25 in Denver during rush hour, but with motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic and less care for human life. It is best to cross the street with one person on either side of you because then you have human cushions should a car refuse to stop! Anyway, I had spent the morning of this day at the zoo with children from a school for the deaf. It was a lot of fun and I made some new friends. I had no plans for the afternoon so I decided to wander alone and go to the tailor and maybe find a grocery store. Nothing exciting happened, but for an entire afternoon, I was alone in a city with few English speakers, high risk, and no sense of direction. It is the small things that make for an adventure. That night I went out clubbing with my roommate and some other friends and then for a change in pace we decided to walk back to the ship.

My last day in Vietnam was pretty calm. I bought postcards and stamps, made a few last-minute purchases, and bought a few groceries. Overall nothing exciting happened, unless I have successfully blocked it from my memory. After all, I had China to look forward to!

31 comments:

天天開心 said...

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剩下 said...

He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom. ....................................................

韋宣威宇 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE.................................................

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PhilCrispin0626清民 said...

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GeraldF_Rotter雅慧 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE.................................................

原昆 said...

Thx ur share........................................

雅婷雅婷宛佳 said...

文章不求沽名釣譽,率性就是真的 ..................................................

曉豪 said...

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桂竹 said...

與朋友在一起,分擔的痛苦是減半的痛苦,分享的快樂是加倍的快樂。 ............................................................

宛妹宛妹 said...

your english is incredible............................................................

怡潔怡潔 said...

you‘re so smart!............................................................

劉淑芬 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。..................................................................

俊賢 said...

期待你每一篇文章......................................................................

江婷 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。......................................................................

家谷家谷 said...

閒來無聊逛逛blog~~跟您打聲招呼~~.................................................................

智超智超 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債............................................................

婉婷 said...

嘩做左推介BLOG 果然人氣勁旺..................................................................

宥妃宥妃 said...

這樣的情感,真是值得人羨慕............................................................

王春蕙王春蕙 said...

i trust everything will be fine. bless you!............................................................

天花天花 said...

人不可以求其備,必捨其所短,取其所長............................................................

吳婷婷 said...

Pay somebody back in his own coin.............................................................

琬安琬安 said...

當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

廖淑鄭志嘉娟 said...

人生最重要的一件事,就是從生活中認識你自己。.......................................................

家唐銘 said...

良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。............................................................

則V哲維治 said...

海鷗要高飛,必先遠退。花蜜要香醇,必先久釀。............................................................

于庭吳 said...

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佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

期待你發表的新文章!跟你說一聲加油。..................................................................

廷家祥家祥雯 said...

原來這世上能跟你共同領略一個笑話的人竟如此難得......................................................................