Sunday, January 30, 2011

Speedy Vietnamese

What a fast crew of people. Zipping around on their mopeds. Slurping down noodles. Rushing throughout the streets with the double baskets hanging from sticks over their shoulder. Their native language sounds hyper speedy and those that do speak English make it quick with no real space between words a-sen-tence-sound-like-one-long-word!

Vietnam made me feel like I was back in elementary school. I was told what to do all the time with no real option to make choices or step outside of the lines. Everything was an order. "you-eat-this... eat-with-sauce" - "now-you-come-here... come-here-now" - "You-sit-here... no-you-sit-here". They really wanted me to sit a lot which was the last thing I was interested in after hours upon hours of sitting on trains, buses, and boats. I think me being a couple head higher than everyone made them a bit nervous so I got a lot of "you-sit-now".

I'm typically the guy that likes to wander off and do his own thing so this was a bit of a struggle for me to follow orders and for them to keep me in line on our group tours. The itineraries they created left little room for creative exploration and sleeping in. Answering the door to a "you-check-out-now" from little sweet smiling gal who knew no other phrases was cute. We would ask her something like, "uh, well, what time is it? think it's before seven am right."... smile smile "okay-you-check-out-now". Okay this darling little kitty cat of a person is making us leave.

All the girls age 15 to 40 were little kitty cats wearing super tight designer jeans, fluffy tops, big makeup, and prancing around in monster high heels, making them nearly as tall as my eleven years old. The boys too were extremely fashionable with the same same tight designer jeans, tight long sleeve broad shouldered shirts, colorful sneakers or boots, and the most magnificent eighties pop hairdos. In fact, I think the Vietnamese are interested in staying in the eighties. All the music I recognized I knew from junior high.

The smiles here are different than Cambodia. While they were huge smiles and lots of white teeth in Cambodia, their eyes had more of a humble and hopeful look. The smiles in Vietnam go all the way up to their eyes squinting with happiness. I witnessed so much of their interactions filled with whole hearted laughter and had many good laughs with them myself (mostly making fun of me).

Being a slow speaking, casual boy from the hills of Colorado used to more stillness, I find the Vietnamese style and pace to be polar opposite to my frequency. It's pretty nutty to me and although I'm sure I would get use to it I really don't want to. I have gotten use to the noise. Yelling from loud speakers, crashes and booms of construction, calls from each and every vendor, and barrage of honks and beeps have left me immune to the loudest of sounds. A lightning bolt could strike a meter away and I wouldn't even flinch much less turn my head.

Our last day in Vietnam was spent walking through the streets of Hanoi for seven hours wearing us out physically for our long upcoming bus ride and wearing us out energetically from Vietnam in general. I'm happy to have visited. The people are very kind and helpful. I think I am ready for a slower pace. Laos - here we come.

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