Archive for December 2008
When I lived in the States, it almost always peeved me other Vietnamese rarely attempt to assimilate. They hang out with their own kind, read Vnexpress, shop at Vietnamese markets, visit Vietnamese dentists, watch Paris by night, go to coffee shops for cafe sua da, drink beer and sing karaoke with their Vietnamese friends. To me, at that time, they just wasted a perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the wonderful American culture.
Now I m here in Saigon, I find myself behaving exactly the same way they do. Only in a reversed role. I dress in jeans,tshirt and canvas shoes instead of dress shirts, dress pants and black leather shoes. Instead of local news, I watch espn, mtv and hbo. Instead of listening to Vietnamese love ballads, I stay at home and listen to my brother’s music library. I dont “di nhau”, “di cafe”, “di matxa” or “di karaoke”. Not only do I think they are a waste of time, I find it absolutely perverse to be paying some girl for her companionship. When I go to the beach, I actually swim laps instead of waddling around. Alas! When I go to the bar, I try to go to one that is not all about bottle-service. And when I do, I dont stand around my table like the locals. Instead I roam around and pick up girls. You know, like an American.
My friends are primarily VKs. It is easy to communicate, to joke around and go pick up chicks with them. For some reason I always thought I would, of all people, be more in touch with my old friends. But that is not the case. My upbringing has been different. And so have theirs.
I guess what I m trying to say it is impossible to change a grown man and it is impossible to change me. He is what he is and I m what I m and there is nothing to be peeved about.
When Le Cong Vinh made that header at the 90th minute, effectively sealed Vn’s victory against the perennial fav Thailand and secured Vn’s 1st title ever, I looked outside my house’s window and knew Saigon would go mad.
Little did I know the magnitude of the madness.
From every other district in Saigon, sea of bikes started pouring into downtown. Almost everyone was wearing red. Red bandana, red flags, red shirts, red stickers (which, by the way, was jacked up to 20K/piece). By the time I reached district 3, traffic came to a standstill. It was unprecedented. Those who were not on bikes started hanging along the sidewalks, yelling and screaming “Vietnam Vo Dich”. Some gathered into packs and started parading, all the while chanting, whistling, blowing horns and banging against pots and pans. The noise was deafening. No one was wearing helmet. Bikes and cars stopped right smack in the middle of intersections and roundabouts and started impromptu celebrations. The U.S embassy’s sidewalk was packed. Normally you cant even stop on the street before the guards come and whistle you away.
Here are some pics, taken from 11pm to 1:00am. By 3am, there were still packs of bikes circling around, partying well into the wee hours.
And here are some video clips. And I was smack in the middle of it. It was a moment of a lifetime since I m pretty sure Vn is never gonna win again.
Since it coincides w/ Vietnam beating heavily favored Thailand 2-1, the streets were packed. Confetti, flags, screaming, honking, red bandanas, red shirts, lights, xmas trees. Here are some pics taken @ 2am on Le Loi St.
On a related note, it was also a day I received many texts wishing me a merry xmas.
There is the generic Vietnamese one
There is the one that is a bit more elaborate, in the form of a conversation w/ God
There is the one that was mixed w/ the football game.
There is the English one that was most likely copied from a Hallmark card
And here is my fav, from my sweet girl Trang
At 23/9 park in downtown Saigon, there is this old van outfitted as a mobile coffee shop
which pays no rent and enjoys a huge customer base.
Recently however, there has been crackdown on them. Being the entrepreneurs that they are, they moved the van out of sight. Now the boss is equipped w/ a handheld radio
so when an order comes in, he radios back to the van, which makes the order and dispatches a mobile unit to deliver it.
Since the customers scatter all around, a foot unit also roams around to take and deliver orders (shown here taking a rest)
The end result: a milk coffee for 6K.
versus 50K across the street, at the ultra posh Crepery Cafe.
Now I m 28 and look the part, lots of people call me Anh. Some call me Chú or Cậu, whether it is a high school kid, a street vendor or a store clerk and many times they are much older than me.
A month ago, when I bought woods to make the bookshelves, I hired a cyclo man to transport the woods back to my house. When he arrived, he addressed me by Thầy. So there he was, a skinny man who was as old as my dad, soaked by the cool rain of the night, with eyes and skin burnt by years toiling under the shearing sun, calling me Thầy. It was an archaic term I have heard of but never been called, and probably never will be again. At that moment like no other, his words instantaneously and inexplicably gave me a warm feeling inside, kind of like life is nice and these people are good people and Vietnam isnt a bad place to live after all.