They say that happiness occurs most when we are growing – challenging ourselves, overcoming obstacles, learning, and stepping out of our comfort zone. The monotony of the every day 9-5 life is what creates unhappy people because everything is so… structured. You get up; go to work; come home; watch television; go to bed (maybe have sex); then repeat.
Not that I’ve really spent my last five years doing that at all. I used to get up, go to the gym, drive, get ready for work, go to work, then go to my other work, come home, eat, do a gig / have band practice, come home, sleep, repeat. Every day was usually different from the last, but the craziness began to get exhausting – and the routine soon became apparent – early rising, gym, work long hours, gig, home, repeat. I loved my life – don’t get me wrong – but the days would speed up because (as the argument goes) the challenges were decreasing. I wasn’t growing as much as I could/should/would if I stepped out of my comfort zone.
There’s definitely no fear of that not happening here.
Every day in Vietnam is something to get my head around.
The people here are BEAUTIFUL – so happy, curious, and wanting to get to know you (albeit in broken English). You do get people targeting you (because you’re a foreigner) asking for money, or whether you’d like to buy this, this or this. But you can’t really blame them. $1NZD is the equivalent to over 16,000VND which is almost enough to buy lunch here, and it feels rude to not share my “wealth” (seriously strange to consider myself monetarily rich) with so many who have much less than I do. Though I’ve been instructed that bartering is part of the game, it still feels wrong.
Surprisingly, (well, actually apparently it’s NOT surprisingly), he was a lad from the UK: who spent 6months of every year in Vietnam because it meant he could go back to the UK and work for a short burst, then come back to Vietnam and live “like a King”. I asked him what he did, and he replied “not much” before launching into a discussion on how fucked Vietnam is, how horrible the people are, how difficult it was teaching the locals English because “they’re so stupid – they just don’t get it”, how corrupt the government is, and how inept the police was because they discovered he was illegally living in a house that he wasn’t supposed to. Then he started a conversation on philosophy; where he would look down on you if you hadn’t read the same books he had. He was a strange character.
But the music at the coffee shop was good.
Besides that, my experiences here have been incredible. I’ve met some amazing locals so far, seen some beautiful scenery (though I’m yet to see any monkeys – I’m hopeful today), and had some rad food. I do miss eating vegetables though – most of the diet here seems to focus on noodles and rice… and weird stuff
like oyster porridge
The motorbikes are something to get used to as well. Beeping aside, not everyone wears helmets when they’re riding – and you often seem three or four people on one bike at a time – including REALLY little kids and toddlers. It’s a bit to get your head around.
The music is quite amusing as well – the culture seems to be relatively stuck in the 90s. At the market day recently, , the band tshirts were mostly of 90s pop icons – the Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” pictures, Backstreet Boys, NSync… and the music playing was everything from 5ive to M2M (remember them? Oh, I laughed so hard).
There are so many little things about Vietnam that are just taking a bit to get my head around, though it was REALLY good to meet some Vietnamese (and other tourist) couch surfers last night.
And my new friend Allan, from Brazil (bless him), was wonderful at taking me to a restaurant where I actually overdosed on vegetables. Haha.
Today, we’re off to Hue – apparently quite a beautiful little town – will update soon!