Next Week Is Vietnam Week
Writing about the lead-up to Tet made me realise how much I miss Vietnam, my second home.
The comments on my last post also made me realise how little is known about Vietnam. I certainly didn’t know much about it before my first visit there in 2006. In fact, I only went to Vietnam as a side trip.
I had wanted to cycle through Cambodia but my chosen tour company only offered a nine-day cycle tour of the country. I wanted to spend several weeks pedaling and puffing through Asia, not just a week-and-a-bit, so I took the option of combining my Cambodia cycle tour with a 15-day Vietnam cycle tour.
From the moment I stepped out of the Hanoi airport (without my luggage or my bike, but that’s another story) I was captivated by Vietnam. The country’s allure grew and grew as I cycled through it, past emerald green paddy fields, school girls in white ao dai, farmers in conical hats and multi-coloured houses.
Vietnam’s amazing food only added to the appeal.
When my cycle tour ended, I went back to Australia to my high-stress job and a severe case of post-holiday blues that just didn’t seem to lift. After a few months, I realised that I’d run out of ambition and enthusiasm for my career. I decided to try something radical — I quit my job and flew to Ho Chi Minh City to do a four-week Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) course.
After the course finished, I found a teaching job. Then I found an editing job, then a consulting job. I stayed in Vietnam for nearly four years and during that time I traveled all over the country, from the misty mountains in the north to the verdant Mekong Delta in the south.
I studied the language and I worked alongside Vietnamese people, who tried to answer all my strange questions about their country.
I lived in a twisty-turny alley that was too small for cars and I rode a motorbike in the most chaotic and illogical traffic in the world, laughing as I zoomed past goggley-eyed tourists walking along with “what the hell” expressions on their faces.
Next week we’ll be in Vietnam celebrating Tet with family and friends. During the week, I will be looking at Vietnam with fresh eyes, trying to see the country as I did when I first arrived, in all its mysterious craziness.
Next week will be Vietnam Week on The Dropout Diaries.
Every day from Tet, January 23, to January 30, I’ll write a post about some aspect of life in Vietnam. And you, dear readers, can choose the topics.
Tell me what you want to know about Vietnam. Your questions can be as vague or as specific as you like. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to Vietnam, or if you live there, if there is something you want to know, just ask, either in the comments section below on on my Facebook page. If your question seems silly — and I LOVE silliness, by the way — send the question in an email to theboss (at) thedropoutdiaries <dot> com.
So, if you want to know why there’s ice in the urinals in Vietnam, why pith helmets are so popular in Hanoi, why some people wear their pyjamas all day or why the parks in Ho Chi Minh City are full of kissing couples at night, ask and I will find an answer. I will have access to a large network of Vietnamese experts next week who will be very interested in what nước ngoài (foreigners) want to know about Vietnam and who will be eager to help satisfy your curiosity.
And if you haven’t done so already, like www.thedropoutdiaries.com on Facebook
8 years ago