Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Am a Local, Almost

My cousin predicted that I would sleep in late because I was jet lagged.
On the contrary. I woke up t 7am, eager to start my day.

I called my other cousins who are natives and I transported the luggage of gifts to his house. There, used clothes, toothpaste, bengay were distributed.

People were eager, but I wonder if they are offended. After all, they have everything here.
Doesn't look too fake to me.

Maybe Vietnamese folks accept these "gifts" to make the people who escaped to different countries feel better about themselves. When really, they know it's just junk that they can easy buy down the street.

But then I saw my cousin wearing this old Hawaiian shirt that I had given him. It looked good on him. I think they defined the meaning of appreciation.


My first Meal in Vietnam
I was fed pho.
It tasted exactly like the Pho in the US.

The difference: it was $1.50

Vietnam is trying to Catch Up
My cousin has a new HP laptop with a webcam, but the bathroom is a shit hole and the roof is falling a part. There is Wi-Fi in the cafes, but the roads are poorly paved and streets are always under construction.

I visited another relative and they fed me beef steak. I'm expecting a large stomach ache tonight- I've already drank some things with ice in them. Interestingly enough the only thing I'm suffering from is a cough from the states.

One of my relatives kept telling me about how shady the doctors are and that her grandson resorts to giving himself shots because he doesn't the trust the doctors.

She also told me how sad she was that all her siblings are passing away. She is the youngest and old age is catching up to her family.

My cousins took me to a cafe where I amused two of their friends with my inconsistent Vietnamese. It seems like I can barely understand, but I am capable of catching a few words and ideas. The most interesting topic was the night clubbing in Vietnam. I was excited to hear what goes on at night.

According to them, the price of the discos, or night clubs, have sky rocketed. There is no entrance fee, but you are expected to buy a drink or even two. Adding up to American prices.

The local bars were shut down. And all that's left are the one's that will cost you at least $40 a night. That's like a good portion of my rent. I was in shock.

How do people afford it? "They go to work."
It's consumer behavior all over again. The majority of the population in Saigon are young consumers. Consuming youth, working youth. They drive the countries economy, but the largest purchases are the motorbikes and the cellphones which come from different countries.

This is less than 2 dollars. But I can buy a whole bunch of stuff with it.

"Is it hot in the US?"
"not really"
"Then why do you have so many pimples"

It's like dealing with an honest child.
I always tell myself that it's not noticeable. But now I'm getting self conscious about how it may affect my interview.


I can live with my inlaw's inlaws for $150 a month. Air conditioned, I'd have my own bathroom and is very close to my family. It's already a great deal, but there is no internet.

I could share space with my cousin's family. Five people. One shower? No air conditioning, but there's internet. And it's free. My cousin's family sells food at night. So there's always customer's walking in and out from 3pm to 10pm. My Aunt, really wants me to stay with her. I would love to save the money and be in her company... but at the cost of privacy.

Or.. I can find a place with other expats and live near the action. I'd have to actually walk down the street in search of one.

I just don't know.

I am a local.
People take a lot of naps in Vietnam.
It's 4 in the afternoon and 2am in the US. Time to nap.

1 comment:

mich said...

i always thought pho here was way better... but maybe that's changed too.