Monday, October 31, 2011

First Weekend


I'm lying in bed now, on my first night in Hanoi. I'm writing a whole series of entries, and I'll upload them all together when I get the chance. I don't have wifi at my house, so I won't be able to post this till Monday at the earliest.

Vietnam, to me, isn't just a different country, it's a different planet. Within 5 minutes of being in the car, in which time, I saw rice fields, cows being trailed behind bikes and motorbikes with limitless objects on the back, the realization of what I was doing had hit me. The whole trip there, the girls and I had been saying how it hadn't hit us yet, how we didn't quite feel like we were actually doing something.

But within these first 5 minutes, it hit me, that the next 4 weeks are going be simultaneously the hardest, and most enriching ones of my life. Everything is different. Firstly, the roads. There are 2 modes of transport here. Taxis, or motorbikes. There are so many bikes, like, I've seen, in 4 hours, hundreds and hundreds of bikes. They swerve and brake and cut in front, and being in a non-seatbelted taxi coming home from the airport, im not going to lie, made me pray for my life to the big guy upstairs. So far, Hue (host sister) has taken me to the shopping center, the arcade, the bookshop, the lake and a restaurant. But my equally favorite and fearfilled part has been the taxi rides. Looking out the windows and seeing people, and movement and buzzing and life! More life and culture than I've ever seen. The streets flash, and boom from their haze of pollution. I had to come home and wipe a thin layer of dirt off my face from all the pollution, and though I'm making it out to sound disgusting, it gives the place a sense of magic, everything with a slight blur. Walking around, letting the individual smells of petrol, street stalls, shops and restaurants fill you from the inside gives me a sense of contentment. Hues house is above a shop that her father owns. There are 5 floors, each with one or two rooms off the staircase. Unlike anything I've ever seen. The people working in the shop greeted me like they'd been expecting me and carried my bag for me. They smile and tell me they love my curls. Everywhere I've gone, it's been a matter of "hey look, a white girl". Now I'm not complaining, it's just such a huge change, and 'spot the westerner' will no doubt become a common game amount us girls.

The bed I'm on is hard, and I can't hear all the cars going past, and hundreds of horns being blown. It's a whole other world, and I think I'm going to love it.... eventually.

Also, I'm so proud of myself. Wait wait, let me fill those of you that aren't my fronds and family in - I hate vegetables. Like, nearly all vegetables. I'm realizing that to stick to this idea, would make living in Vietnam a difficult concept. So last night we went out to dinner and i ate everything my host dad put on my plate. I asked Hue what some of it was, but I thought I was better off not asking for some of it. I think I may have eaten snail though. I've made a conscious decision however to eat everything I'm given ( except like drugs and stuff). Yay me! But mum, dad, don't get me wrong. This change is temporary and I shall go back to picking out my veggies once I'm home.


Well showering has never been so intimidating. Theres no glass containing the shower, its just one tiled room, with a sink and mirror, hand held shower and toilet. The toilet is freaking me out. There's no toilet paper, but I tiny little hand held spray thing, that I think you're meant to use to 'clean up'. I'm too nervous to ask about that, and I'm too afraid that they'll tell me that's what it's there for.

Today we went all over the place, catching taxi after taxi. It's not surprise they catch taxis everywhere. Being in a taxi for 15minutes might cost you about 130000 dong, or about $7 aus. But we went to the big church in town, built when the French controlled the city, and various beautiful temples, as well as visiting a pizza place for lunch. I've started my souvenir purchases for everyone back home and right now we're watching Vietnamese Disney channel. One concept I'm struggling with is that tv is mainly in English. If most of my tv was in French or German, I don't know if I can cope. I think it's odd that they dont understand Vietnamese, but they watch it on tv. They listen to our music, even though many of them wouldn't understand the lyrics. They would feel the way I feel when I listen to their music (which funnily enough, to me, all seems to resemble nyan cat a bit)

We also went to the supermarket and Hues mother was asking me (through body language and Hue) what I wanted and what I liked. I told her (well I told Hue to tell her) that I'm here to live like them, and I will eat whatever they want to eat. She kept smiling at me and hugging me. I like Hues parents. We also spent all day with Hues cousin, who is 11. She speaks English very well so we were having a bit of a chinwag all day. She translated a few pick up lines that guys had said to me. I need a sign that states that me being white is not a valid excuse to hit on me. Mind you, I mean, I'm not complaining, exactly. It's flattering. Annoying, but flattering. Also, my 9 year old brother gave me a reason to chortle today when he told us all that he thought I was cute and he likes me very much, and (my favourite bit) 'he has a secret weapon that he will use to get me to like him'. hue was laughing while she was translating that little gem of information for me.

Also, Hue, her brother, cousin and family friends all think I'm a walking laughing stock because of my hiccoughs. (for any strangers reading this, I have chronic hiccoughs. Yes, I am serious.) First, Hues cousin was saying it was cute and funny, but that slowly turned into a sympathetic, look and " that is terrible" whenever I did it.

However tonight we got to go to the night markets. It's very different to Australian culture. The markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and open at 8pm. We left at 8 and didn't get home til 10:30. Very different to home where mums yelling at me to go to bed at 9:30. Anyway the markets were filled with so much noise and lights and because it's Halloween tomorrow, people are all dressed up in witches hats and masks. I bought quite a few things and some jewelry (nothing you'd like, mum :p) and a backpack to take to school as well as some cheap Adidas shorts (YES DOM, I BOUGHT THEM!) we got home and im about to go to bed for a 6 am start tomorrow.

PS, there is no toilet paper, only that hose, so that might take some getting used to... or maybe I'll just buy my own toilet paper :p

Also, I'm attaching some photos of the flowers I got on my arrival and a view from my house


Anonymous said...

Kate, I am loving your blog at the moment. It's making me laugh, it's making me cry, ahh !
What you are doing is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I know I would never be as brave as you. Take every chance, stay safe, enjoy it. Eat lots of food too. I want to know if it's good or bad haha. I like how you're referred to as "that white girl". I find that funny. and how they laugh at your hiccoughs.
I miss you.
- jess. xx

angelatoomey said...

wooo kate! Loving your recollection of events ;) im thinking i might have to quote some of it on my blog! see you tomorrow :) xxx