You know, after the final exam full of nonsense and damn difficult subjects, I started my trip to some other places outside Cantho city, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, Phan Thiet and Vung Tau.
Guys, there were lots of good and bad things that I learnt. I know that is a real life. Not kinda bed of rose that I thought before. I also think after the trip, yes, I am more mature than ever.
After the trip I found out something interesting, I think, just for me. To Jeremy, a friend of mine “there’s so much that I want to tell you guys about my experiences in the past few weeks, but I feel that it’s nearly impossible to put my feelings into expressible words”. Well, something like human being’s behavior, traffic in HCMC, train, women’s value and sex free talk.
Because of the exam, I was beat so that I started the trip with a bad temper. However, soon I left them behind to enjoy the undiscovered trip, which I had planned for months.
Like usual, I was welcome in HCMC with rain and rain. It seemed that people knew I love rain
I was so lucky that a friend of mine, Truong Thi, let me stay in her house during my trip without any condition. We well are not close enough to become good friends. I mean that we have known each other for 1 year. She was willing to give me ride on my first days in HCMC. Her brother didn’t hesitate to show his great stamp collection and told me lots of things about stamp. Those actions made me think a lot. I took for granted that in Saigon people are reserved always. They don’t trust strangers. So, at least her action didn’t let me down. Trust is still alive . Or, just because we belong to a new generation; we are people who are eager to discover, study and be friendly with others. Well, I believe that at all when I stayed in her parents’ house in Phan Thiet city. They are very kind to me. Her younger sister took me around the city and showed me some good food stores with reasonable price. Her parents treated me 2 very good lunches and gave me a good room to sleep. Their action made me feel as if I were at my home. So did my other friends, new and old ones. They are so busy but they spent much time going out or talking or even just riding me around Saigon when I felt alone. So how about you guys? I don’t think that you haven’t thought about such a thing. Trust each other to make a better life!
My best friend, Baza, lent me her bike and you know her bike was my main transport in Saigon. It was a good and useful bike. Riding bike in HCMC seemed to be a strange thing to its citizens. If you spend few minutes observing when you go to main districts, you hardly find people riding bikes except for riding motorbikes. Roads are full of motorbikes and cars and small trucks and big trucks only at night. Finding a place to park a bike was one of my problems. I was looked down when people, well motorbike keepers, knew that I wanted to park my bike. It always happened in some places such as coffee bars, cinemas, school, supermarkets, plazas, etc. why do people do that? Riding bike is not a crime. I have a low blow to know that now people value others by clothes and transport. I still have that feeling now. You know, one of my friends in HCMC told me that she was so surprised when she knew that I don’t know how to ride a motorbike. She looked me like an alien from the Mar. I think that such a trend is spreading more and more quickly to other parts of my country. Sad! Well, so if I don’t pay attention to that, I won’t feel anything. Right?
Next thing made me think in a long time. Then, I really don’t know which words I should use to express exactly my feeling. When I was wandering in a plaza, kinda window – shopping, an employee in a silk shop asked me to come and see products. It is a normal way to invite clients you know. After I said “No, thanks,” and went to other shops, I heard a thing that I shouldn’t hear, well I am not sure about that, but obviously a friend of that employee told her that I was a redneck and she shouldn’t invite me to buy anything in the shop. What on earth did happen? I am a redneck? How could she value a person by seeing his/her outside appearance? Who did she think she was? Where was she from? Well, to my friend who was born in HCMC and other people who have stayed there for a long time, most of employees in plazas or supermarkets are from other poor provinces. I knew that already. In some ways I am richer than they are. You know, I didn’t want they to respect me as if I were a lady, but at least they should behave toward other people kindly, not for themselves but for their current job. So, what would happen to them if I wrote a complain letter to their boss? I HATE such their behavior.
And other funny thing happened to me in the same plaza when I went upstairs. Another girl in a ceramics shop also asked me to come and see products but guys can you guess? She spoke in English with her sweet smile and her listener was me because at that time there was only me there. So surprised! A very kind behavior. So, who am I like? An Asian tourist or a redneck?
Afterwards, I spent time to think about my behavior. Well, my fashion style is normal, like other teenagers, T-shirt and short jeans. Also, I didn’t speak any English words though I really wanted. And you know, when you travel, you cannot wear anything like formal stuff, right?
I think I am kinda affected by Western style. I don’t like other people stick their nose to my business. I want to do things what I think is ok. I don’t hurt anyone. I don’t look down anyone. I don’t lose anyone’s face. I think Vietnamese people like caring about other people’s business… kinda good in some certain situation, but not always goods…a bug thing, I am sure.
So, why do we have such a behavior? Other Vietnamese people and I were born in a developing country. Kinda a poor country. Why do we let a discrimination happen and spread to everywhere, even poor villages? A gap between the rich and the poor is so HORRIBLE! Why don’t we think that we have the same root, same beginning, and same country? Everyone is poor before they become rich afterward, that’s for sure. And earning money legally and keeping it are the hardest work that I have ever known. We have to work hard in 7 days a week and then you can feel that you are deserved to own that amount of money. We cannot do anything to earn money and become rich. You might pay sweat and blood even. So I think to the poor, they should word hard continually and don’t put away their hope of being rich. And, to the rich, they are not better than anyone. They should appreciate what they have had and shouldn’t look down the poor because they used to be like such people before.
The traffic in HCMC, well I think you can know what it is. Some of you experienced it and knew how terrible it is. There are lots of plans to refine the roads and bridges, but nothing has been changed dramatically. I don’t say that the traffic there is like that 50 years ago, but the authority of the city hasn’t had long-term strategies. Whenever they like, they allow plans to be conducted without thinking, I think. The traffic is like a terrible web. However, in the main districts, the traffic is quite good. Vehicles follow their own flow. From the top of high buildings such as a plaza, you will see what I said is right. You know, I also found a weird thing in HCMC. In a crossroad, I stopped when the light turned red. I think my action is always correct. A lady wearing a facemask asked me to ride me bike to the right a little bit so that she could go toward. Hey, what was she thinking? I guessed she was very busy, but at that time, there were 2 – 3 seconds left and the light turned green. So, she didn’t need to do that. 2-3 seconds could help her avoid a fender-bender. Well, lucky to her, nothing bad happened to her. However, I don’t think the luck will follow her or anyone like her in a long time. I know that there are still people who stop at the red light but they try to pass the crossing way. They shouted me and ask me to clear the way when I stopped my bike below the crossing way. Why do they do that to me? I didn’t do anything wrong. Why don’t people in HCMC like to stop at the red light? Their lives are kinda in a fast speed. They crush to work everyday, even in the late evening. Maybe for their extra study. Who knows!
All right, now another experience. My best friend I consider my brother, Kenz, knew that I am very naive. Yes, for sure. I know everything, well not quite all things on earth, by reading books, mags and finding from other sources like internet but I haven’t experienced anything, well kinda a very green girl, my bro and some of my friends said that. I don’t know what a real life is like the way that most of my friend who is working now experienced. He took me and my other friends to a bar in HCMC. Exactly that was my first time! Yes, everyone has his or her first time according to Kenz’s friends. It is a small bar. There were lots of people when we were there. No dance. No terrible music. There was a 3 people band. They sang songs all in English. Quite good! But sometimes I could hear or understand what they were singing. To my bro, it is a nice bar. People are kinda good and behave each other kindly, not like in other bars in HCMC. I agreed with him. People come to that bar and chat with their friends, listen to live music. No crowded. No stupid teenagers. I kinda like it. However, in that bar, I knew more about young girls in HCMC. I know I cannot say that all girls in HCMC have such lifestyles but many many of them do. I feel shy. For what? Well, so what do you think when you are in a situation. You go to a bar with your friends, of course, you are girls. Then, you see a kinda handsome American navy soldier sitting and drinking alone. You find a seat next to him and start a conversation with him. He is a polite guy. So, you guys have a short but fun talk. And then, you act as if you and he had a very close relationship like lovers; I say lovers not boyfriends or girlfriends. How can you do that? Especially you are Vietnamese. Well, maybe I am conservative but I don’t like that way. I saw many girls in HCMC do something like that. I guess they think in foreign countries, people often do that so they also can do that. Nuts, all of them! They think they can speak English that means they can understand other foreign countries’ custom and culture. That only show that they know only one side of the truth, badly they know the very bad side, which nowadays foreign teenagers try to avoid. How can they throw away their women’s value? Why do they choose that lifestyle? Do they follow the materialism? Or they are practical people not romantic one? I think I am also a practical girl but I DON’T choose that way. I am young, healthy and educated enough to earn money legally myself. Why do I depend on some rich guys? I cannot understand. My bro said that just let it go, and I should not put lots of bias to my writing, but that is what I am thinking.
About train. Hey that was another first time, haha. Kinda fun when I was in the train. I like this transport. I had no problem with a ticket seller but many others did. How lucky I was! However, the truth, yes, is so bitten. Because she, the ticket seller, knew that that was the first time I use the train for traveling, she gave me a soft seat which was opposite with the usual way (well, I sit opposite with the way the train run) and very near a toilet. I could hear the water pouring there. Oh God! It smelled terribly. I couldn’t open the window because the A.C were being used. You know, I hardly start a conversation with a young girl sitting next to me. I was so afraid of being cheated. So, I didn’t dare to sleep and kept watching over my stuff. Later, I knew that that girl is ok. She is a medicine teacher in a health center in Phan Thiet. So, I made up my mind to discover the train. The train is so normal, not like what I saw on TV. A little bit disappointed. However, the customer service is quite ok. When there were around 10 minutes left to go to the final station, the train hit a middle age woman. Inside and outside the train, there were like messes. People shouted, cried and talked lots. One old man near my seat got angry when the train stopped without any announcement. He thought the passenger should know what was happening to prepare himself or herself in any bad condition like bomb, terrorist, or something like that. I agree with him but not the same reasons. I think they should announce to make passenger calm down. That’s all. Well, I also know 2 main reasons cause train accident; people try to go across the trail while the train is coming and people want to kill themselves on purpose. So, both are so nonsense. Why do we waste our precious life? We can sit down and figure out what is going on and find a solution.
And the other thing is about a sex free talk with a friend who is living in Australia, an IT student. You know, HIV/AIDS, safe sex and anything related to such issues are my interest. I bet I don’t need to say anything about that because you guys knew already. But, here we talked about other side of such issues. It was about porn, not about good and bad things about porn. We talked as if we were naughty guys. I am sure that that was not a serious discussion like that in my class. However, I couldn’t get up with what they talked surely. What I mean here that they were talking about how they got porn book or movies; how such those things were, etc. I felt shy because they talked freely as if nothing could stop them. I also knew about that porn but I don’t want to read or watch just because I don’t like. That’s a simple reason. It seemed that they didn’t believe me. He told me that one of his friends slept with 3 Vietnamese young naïve high school girls in his travel to VN. And, he himself also experienced the sex. Quite good to know that he doesn’t lie us. At least he committed that he had sex with girls meanwhile other Vietnamese men often say that they have no idea about that. Rather bad to know that people who are the same age with me have experienced such a thing, having sex. I have no idea. It is not my business. He also laughed at me when he knew I visited all museums in HCMC. To him, that’s the reason why I haven’t got any boyfriends so far. It is so funny. I don’t think so. Yes, we are old enough, physically and mentally, to have sex. I don’t know why I don’t like to spend time on that thing. I read and I know what it is. I don’t hesitate to say that I knew how to use condom, and other things related to having safe sex or avoiding pregnant, STD and HIV/AIDS. That’s is a general knowledge because simply I don’t want to die of lack of basic knowledge. But practice? Maybe not now, later is better, I think.
Finally, about the time I spent in Vung Tau. That was a summer camping of Giac Ngo Buddhism news office. That idea was good but they failed in organizing. Passerby wouldn’t think that was the camping. You know, I really didn’t care about how tired I would be when I join outside games held by monks. How could I dare to join when I found out that the hygienic system was in bad condition? Toilets were very very terrible! So were bathrooms. Obviously, I spent money to register for the camping but not much but that wasn’t reason that they set a bad camping place for us. There were over 890 people in the camping place and some important monks in Vinh Nghiem pagoda led all of us. So, we had the organization, but a bad one. I was pooped after the trip… I didn’t eat and drink much, just slept all the time there. I had a hard feeling when I had to take a small bowl and went around to find something to eat for lunch. You know totally it wasn’t my fault. I went to the food store lately because I had to stay in the tent to keep other people’s stuff and in other tents there were some people like me. One member in our tent informed that to the organizers and they promised to keep food for us. But, what did I have? Nothing! I had to find food myself. I paid for that lunch already. So, finally I ate a small bowl of rice (just a haft of the bowl) and the rest of sour soup; the soup was very cold at that time. I ate and felt very bitten from the bottom of my heart. While eating, I almost could not control myself. You know what? People in the food store served a good lunch to monk, hot rice and soup and other things, with a respectful behavior. How could they do that? We are human right? Or they are so religious? No, I don’t think so. That was so unfair. At that time I hardly ate the rest in my bowl and then I went away. I didn’t cry. I felt down in the dumps and then I went along the beach alone to keep myself calm down and I return to my tent and slept. Monks there were know-it-all people. They took for a granted that they have rights to say anything and other people had to follow them without questions. If I had my druthers, I would take a taxi or a bus and return back to HCMC immediately. I told to my friends that the time I spent there as if I were in the Hitler’s camps. Well I know it is too ironic, but it is kinda. That was a bad memory in my trip.
Anyway, I knew how to spend time in such a boring place and walking along the beach in the early morning and in the evening is so great!