Sitting on a stool in Hanoi after being greeted by the owner of my favorite place to eat; she remembers me and motions for me to sit in front of her. She’s counted how many times I’ve visited and tells her neighbor. She grabs a beer and a glass and places it in front of me because she knows it’s what I wanted and begins to prepare my food without words exchanged besides a smile. She shows me how to season my sauce, while her neighbor ties back my hair so it doesn’t interfere with my eating. She smiles every time I return.
Sitting in the living room in rural Vietnam, surrounded by a Vietnamese family and extended family, being poured tea and chugging a beer with a 71-year-old man as we watch the soccer game on the TV and cheers every minute or so. They chant, “Vietnam is number one!” and I join in because I believe it myself.
Sitting on a stool in an alley of Saigon with 4 Vietnamese men who motioned me over during Tet as I walked the streets alone in the early afternoon and not being in the best mood; they immediately handed a beer and cracked it open as we cheers every minute or so. They tell me to be careful with my things around people on motorbikes and try to give me money to buy myself some food.
Sitting on the floor of a family’s home and taking shots of homemade rice wine, each shot immediately refilled one after the other as we ate, talked, and said cheers every minute or so; you get used to the cheers after a certain point. You might even initiate it yourself.
I did not speak their language, nor they mine; even without words, I was provided with a sense of community, of care, of acceptance, that I have never felt in a place before I went to Vietnam. Perhaps I was in the right place at the right time, but I fail to call it all a coincidence. Their kindness is not a coincidence.
These are the memories that stick out in my heart and mind the most; there are so many others, all the simplest experiences that don’t cost anything more than time.
There is just something about Vietnam that pulls me. The food, the culture, the people, the way of life, all of these things – but most importantly, it is its simplicity that pulls me the most. It’s the kind of simplicity you search for when you travel because it is authentic and thoughtless. It’s simply living, and it is so much different than anything you will witness. I don’t want a western experience in a Southeast Asian country. I want culture. I want experience. I want to be forced to reflect on my own privilege and on myself. Even the touristic parts of Vietnam are steeped in culture; you can’t say that about everywhere.
Many of the locals I have exchanged with are just so happy and content; there is no stress or worry. There is just being. It’s what I need right now.
I just signed up for my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate course that will happen this summer in Hanoi; after that, I’ll be looking for a job. I don’t know how long I’ll be living in Vietnam. It could be a full school year. It could be two. Nothing is set in stone. The possibilities are endless, and the world is completely open. Everything leads to something, and it’s a joy to discover what those somethings are in life.
As always, thank you for reading.
Until next time,
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BIG NEWS! I have OFFICIALLY registered for my TEFL Certification in HANOI, Vietnam!!! It’ll be a 4-week course over the summer and then after that I’ll be looking for jobs in the area; however, nothing is set in stone as to where I might end up in the country. My degree is actually in English, and I minored in Education, so I have always planned to teach. 🌹 There is just something that pulls me to Vietnam, and I’m not entirely sure what it is. It’s not just one thing. It’s the culture, the people, the way of life, but if I could narrow it down to one word, it would be its simplicity. When I’m in Vietnam, I enter into the world that I crave when I travel. 🌹 I don’t want to make this caption too long, but keep a look out for my next blog post. It’ll be more in depth. And seriously, thank you to everyone who has been following along on this journey so far. You have no idea how much it means to have people reach out after reading my blog. I appreciate it to no end. Thank you.