I realize i havent said much about my trip thus far. The main reason for this being that the internet connections here are slower than fuck. ADSL is the recent breakthough here. It is advertised as such on all the signs for the internet cafes. I remember when botill was the first person i knew to get ADSL when i was in 9th grade. it blew my mind because he could download so much shit so fast. now it seems slow.
anyways, thoughts thusly: Vietnam is pretty fucking insane. Its sort of like travelling back in time to the 60’s. Everyone smokes wherever they want and no one gives a fuck. Everything is so cheap here. 65% of the country is under 30. Some people have long ass whispy beards growing just out of one mole. There is lots of food and everyone sits in tiny plastic chairs on the streets.
The country itself is beautiful, but tourism is still a recent phenomenon to vietnam. I spoke with an anthropologist who was sitting outside of a noodle place in a town called dong hoi. He was working with some vietnamese folks on ways to improve and develop ecotourism that would put more money into the economy without destroying the precious natural resources. He said that the Vietnamese people dont seem interested in immersing themselves in nature as much, because they want to be urban, and get money and live in citys. Theyre trying to get out of nature and into modern society. When they do go on vacations, it seems to be sort of a one foot in nature sort of thing. Smoking cigs and drinking beers and eating little foods. There is garbage everywhere.
The whole adventure is amazing, but slightly underwhelming. Most places on earth are pretty much the same, just with different accessories. What is there to do anytime youre not working except talk, and watch, and eat. So its hot as fuck, walking around seeing a lot of stuff, and eating a lot of food. Hardly anyone speaks english here, and the english that is developed is geared mostly towards the sale of items to me. Everyone is hustling non stop out here. It puts oakland to shame. The oakland hustlers would be wise to get on some sort of job swapping bandwagon, and spend a week hustling in vietnam. They would certainly gain some applicable life skills. Most people seem to be employed as either tiny little shop owners, with identical little shops and carts, selling coke, 6 kinds of cigarettes, bottled water, shirmp puffs, and maybe some coconut juice or orange soda. The food stalls are also almost identical, selling pho, rice dishes, and sometimes bizarre chicken parts. In between these food shops and carts are shops selling motobike parts and accessories. Every here and there an upscale clothing place which really is pretty shitty and sells a bunch of crappy DKNY and Tommy hilfiger shit, that say things like “CK JEANS” or “FASHION”. If you walk by any of these places the proprietors jump up and run to you and start telling you to buy.
Its sort of sad because they fucking hustle around the clock, but they dont understand that they probably lose out on a lot of sales from americans because we dont like to be sold that way. Even if theres something i would probably like to buy, i cant really look because some bitch is up in my face screaming at me to buy, and showing me 100 other items she has at the same time.
There were some cool tombs in this town called Hue, but most of them had been rebuilt to look brand new, and they just looked sort of cheap.
for the most part though everyone who isnt selling stuff, and even those who are, are super friendly. The whole country has an air of optimism about it. People are young and they are excited for the future because the middle class is coming up. They have a little money to burn for the first time in a while, and everything is under construction. In 10 years this will be a totally different place. Only 30 years ago Ho Chi Minh was fighting to unite his country, which had been in the hands of countrys other than vietnam for the past several hundred years. More tourist dollars will come, and the roads will improve, and hopefully some more people will learn to speak english.
For now i am content, its nice to not eat fast food everyday, and to just be able to chill. Im really sad because its impossible to really interact with anyone on a level beyond “my name is robbie, im from california” but the interactions are still meaningful.
I leave you with this image, which i saw in a pagoda. A car belonging to a monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc. He set himself on fire to protest the killing of monks under the “democratic regime” that America was trying to defend during the Vietnam war. Their leader of the deomcratic south was a man named Ngô Đình Diệm. He was an opium addict and admirer of Adolf Hitler. He modeled his secret police’s marching style and torture styles on Nazi designs. Though he was a member of the very tolerant group known as the catholics. He is said to have murdered over 1000 of his own generals during his rule. This is the man america was helping. America the beautiful! stopping communism in the 60s and 70s, and stopping terrorism now!
OH one more piece of great news. Chuggy and Arby have a new brother! im not sure what he is named yet, but i think Slurpee would be just fine.
CONGRATULATIONS JAMES AND BIANCA (who i understand is now called silmer)