.....few weird things that I have encountered, followed by a few pics -
- Tuesday evening, Tuan invited Jerry The Gordie and myself to dinner at the house of his future son-in-law's family (daughter's boyfriend), whose name is Nam. I had been walking out about Hai Phong Tuesday Afternoon and had decided that it would be nice to pick up a bottle of vino for the hosts.
Well, I found a bottle of what appeared to be local stuff from a region called Dalat. 'K, I figured, I'll grab that (I ALWAYS try to drink locally) for 50,000 Dong. Took it back to the skool to show Tuan, and he laffed to absolutely no end......
.....apparently, The Vietnamese drink American or French wines, and this Dalat stuff is regarded to be some serious-ass rotgut!
Decided that if I brought it over, it would bring much dishonour to the house of future son-in-law's family. Kept it at home.
But hell, if I had known that they prefer American vino, I woulda brought over a case of Ernest & julio Gallo's best vinegar!! Shit.....probably coulda sold that over here forra full year's rent on my pad! I couldn't stoop THAT low, however, as to give my hosts E-J!!! Naw....thass bad form.......
- If I hear ANOTHER FUCKING ROOSTER screaming at 5AM, I swear, I'm gonna lose it.....
- Those goddamm little tiny red ants are STILL here from last time (see post of April, 2008)
- Took my very first ever ride in a Lada a couple days ago. THIS was a treat!! I mean, imaging thee, thee shittiest car that you have EVER bought for $150 when you were 16 years old and you'll still have a better car than a Lada!
A Lada is a Soviet-built car that makes the Yugo look like a Lexus by compare. This particular beauty that I rode in (THINK it may have been early nineties, not sure, though) featured wires hanging everywhere, windows that fell out of the track (so one could not open the windows), NO seatbelts whatsoever, and had NO keys for the ignition. No, it wasn't thefted at one time, but rather it WAS DESIGNED LIKE THAT......utilising a push-button ignition system to start the thing (I can only imagine that no sane person would want to steal it). In traffic of pedestrians, bicycles, skooters and God knows what else in a large Vietnamese city......it was certainly an interesting ride.
- The Vietnamese concept of boys and girls. Very interesting.....yet rather disconcerting. During coffee and bia with my friend Tam here in Hai Phong, she had asked me when I plan to get married. I had stated that I have no plans anytime soon to do so, and proceeded to explain the U.S. trend (for lack of a better term) of people either waiting to get married at a later age, or never getting married at all.
“But doesn't that bring unhappiness?? Not getting married and not having a family?”
“Well, no.....actually, it brings much happiness to a lot of people. I have several friends who are happy being single and childless.”
“But they are so lonely! It is so sad........”
“Waaaai........waaaai a sec. NOT necessarily! I mean, people in America do shack up and....”
“.....'shack-up'?? I do not understand?”
“I mean, like boyfriend-girlfriend, but they live in the same house together and sleep together and sometimes even have children together!!!!”
(Insert Jerry Brown look on Tam's face here)
“Errrmmm......you look stunned......”
“That is so unusual!!”
“Errmmm......not to Americans. Why, how does it go here, then?”
“We are very traditional here, and very reserved. We have no sleeping together until marriage. Until that time, we live at parent's house. And to 'shack-up together', as you say, brings great dishonour upon one's family....."
(Insert Jerry Brown look on MY face here)
“Shit!!! My parents COULDN'T WAIT to git rid of me when I left their house and had my first shack-up!! They even bought me a used car for that milestone in my life!”
It really seems a lot like high school....except that in America, it is a lot easier to get laid in High School before you're married than it as a unmarried adult in Vietnam!
Also, everybody is expected to spawn, as that bring much happiness. In addition, The State will arrest you and send you to a re-education camp if you are not married by age 30!
- The Vietnamese are SOOOO hospitable, that I suspect that there is really no such concept as a stranger to them. During the Tet holidays, I have been invited to so many dinners and parties, that it is really beginning to wear thin. I mean, if I am asked to go to another fucking party hosted by Tuan's nephew's cousin's brother's dentist's golf caddy....where literally dozens of fotograffs are snapped of me (a very Asian thing....I feel like a D-List celebrity and I have learned how to do The Queen's Wave very well)....I swear to God, I'm gonna fucking lose it!
The strangers that I see on the street smile and try to say “Hello” I respond back with a snappy “Xin Chow!” and that puts 'em off-guard a bit! People always wave and smile at me when I'm riding around town on a skooter.......The Vietnamese are very nice, good folk.
- Rode a skooter to a seaside town yesterday called Do Son. It is about 20 Kilometres from Hai Phong. Thought that I'd grab a nice waterfront hotel and hang on the balcony and have a few pints and finally have some time alone (a VERY uniquely North American/European concept). Well........that didn't happen.
The hotels that I found on the waterfront had used condoms lying all over the street, and unused ones on the floor in the hotel room (GROSS!!!) and the rooms were fairly dirty. I was warned that this is the Thailand of Viet Nam (Shit!! Even Bangkok was nicer than these places). Found a nice, clean one that is owned by an elderly couple closer inland towards the town for 200,000 Dong a night (like, twelve bucks) and figured that I can deal with not having the South China Sea underneath my balcony in exchange for a clean room and a decent area where I'm not asked everywhere I go if I would like “Boom Boom!”.
Then I fucked up and later found out that there ARE THREE ENTIRE SECTIONS to Do Son....each separated from each other by four mies of jungle. Screwed that up and thought that the first built-up section was the ENTIRE town and grabbed the hotel there. But still, it's a nice hotel (save for the overpowering blast of mildew scent emittng from the bafroom)....but, since it's the Tet holiday, I am thee only person in this entire hotel (of, like, 50-plus rooms).....feels a bit like “The Shining”, but without the snow.
Plus, it's like 50 degrees and humid (so it feels very cold).....so the idea of hanging on the beach can wait until the 35 degree (CENTIGRADE) days arrive.
Ripped open the Dalat vino whilst typing this in my room. It's NOT fatal....but it does have the power to strip old paint offa walls, soooo......it'll work if you're having the DT's........
Oh yeah, the pics......
Arrival at Hanoi Airport....
The staff in front of the school....
Riding back into town with the Tet peach tree.....
I couldn't quite grasp this one. I mean, I saw this tabletop at the clean hotel in Do Son run by the nice elderly couple. Is it saying that condoms often surf on top of dolphins in area waters whilst holding a life preserver?
- My friend Tam and I were looking for food. Vietnam is kinda weird in that you can generally only find food around mealtimes, as cafes and such shut down the kitchen during 9 to 11AM and 2 to 5PM and 8PM - onwards.
Well, Tam took me to an American food place and asked me if I wanted to go in. I figured that she could use a bit of fattening up......so we headed in .....
Wings and ribs....oooooh man, MUCH better then pig's lung and goat's feet!! I sure got that -itis once again.
I begin one week of observing classes (thank Christ) on Monday.....then, next Monday, I'm going to attempt to teach.
Pray for me.....I'll keep ya posted on how that goes!!