Friday, December 18, 2009

Vietnam Chronicles One: Surrounded with the Unfamiliar

Friday, December 18, 2009

From somewhere, above, below, all around, came the babel of unfamiliar phrases. Letting my eyes roam, I saw sign boards lettered with words I cannot pronounce let alone understand. The sight of motorbikes of a multitude I’ve never seen--nor imagined possible—before amazed me so much that I could have spent a day just watching them manage their way without hitting somebody or bumping into each other.

Fronting food stalls lined up along sidewalks, both locals and tourists sit on small stools savoring a banh mi sandwich, a steaming bowl of pho, a mug of iced coffee or a tall glass of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice.

Used to a place where sprawling structures are the norm, I found beauty and grace in the rows of slim, multi-storeyed, French-inspired buildings that can be seen all over the city. Everything felt, looked, tasted and sounded different.

Surrounded with the unfamiliar in the middle of Phan Ngu Lao, Saigon’s backpackers’ district, I felt a sense of ineffable joy surge through me.

Surrounded with things I don’t understand, I realized that I don’t have to. We don’t really have to understand something to take pleasure in it, do we?

10 comments:

Agnes said...

Hmmmm... how true. Knowing everything there is to know would be pretty boring, I guess :-)

Kayni said...

ah...bahn mi and pho are among my food favorites =). actually, i have a craving for Vietnamese food these days.

unstranger said...

Having fun is what we're all here for - isn't it?

Anonymous said...

bahn mi with mayonnaise that tasted like miracle whip. yum! yum!

i lost my cheekbones eating them. :)

witsandnuts said...

It's pho weather here these days. I've never tried sugarcane juice. =)

Ravenous Couple said...

very nice descriptions of vietnam! looking forward to reed more about it and the food you eat!

Anonymous said...

nicely worded!!! i have yet to go through your other posts and i don't know if you've gone to Hue, Ha Noi, and Ha Long Bay as well-- i am very certain you'll fall more in love with Vietnam if you have :)

~ dina

jacqueline said...

oh.. sugarcane juice.. haven't tasted it yet, but it sounds refreshing! :)

Artemis said...

gee! Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian destination i haven't been! (and Myanmar - not ready for me eh :-)... that'll be next i guess...

it seems that only in the Phils that you don't see fresh sugarcane juice.. in fact no fresh fruit juice being sold in the streets because coke and pepsi are just rampant!

Anonymous said...

loved this place, no holiday decorations. :)

 
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