Wednesday, April 18, 2007
We're getting ready to leave Vietnam after spending less than a full day here . . .It's a little sad because Vietnam is my favorite stop on our trip. I dont really know why - maybe it's just how utterly and completely unlike America it is. I'm fascinated by the chaos of this place; I'm in love with the people; and I DID like the food (although this time it made me slightly ill)
I wish I could describe perfectly what it's like here . . . you drive down roads lined by shacks, houses, old buildings, junkyards and barbed wire fences. Everything lies inches from the busy road. Scooters (the preferred mode of transportation) weave in and out with amazing precision, along with a decided lack of attention to road signs, white lines in the street and even the direction of traffic. Loud honks signal bikes to get out of way of cars, and even louder honks signal cars to move aside for trucks.
The shacks lining the streets house small shops hawking wares which I cannot even imagine anyone here needing: beautiful clocks next to brightly colored backpacks and Adidas t-shirts; gleaming wood furniture and sturdy safes (to hold what valuables I wonder?) Carts vaguely reminiscent of hotdog stands offer corn on the cobb and fresh fruit; women squat on street corners in traditional hats, unidentifiable smells wafting from their waffle makers and kettles. We pass an old man sewing with an antique sewing machine on one street corner. A surprising number of these stores (if that's what you can call them?) offer internet connection; likewise, a surprising number of unkept looking Vietnamese in tattered clothing carry cellphones. It is surprising to discover that the trappings of modern society reach even here . . .
We weave in and out of small roads which seem more like allys, with chairs set-up stadium style in cafes and large empty rooms filled with hammocks. I cannot imagine living such a life - sleeping in hammocks surrounded by 20 to 30 other people, in the 96 degree humid-heat, amidst the constant honking and distinctive scents of this place . .
Every so often we pass a guard in his communist uniform - his stiff clothing and rigid posture in stark contrast to the chaos of his surrounding citizens. Likewise, we will sometimes pass a lush, beautiful garden surrounding an even more lavish home - always flying a large Vietnamese flag on top. I am glad that communism is working so well for these people (sarcasm here). . . I am reminded of Shane Claiborne's words that if we as Christians took what Christ said seriously, then Capitalism wouldnt be possible and Communism wouldnt be necessary . . .
Despite the oppressive heat and squalid conditions, the Vietnamese people remaind irrespresible. On every street I see women carefully and proudly sweeping out their crowded "storefronts". Children walk hand-in-hand through the dust and swerving scooters - eating ice cream cones. And when I walk through the factory, nearly dying from heat stroke (or so I think), wearing a Vietnamese hat, the women working on the vases we are buying, they nudge each other and giggle loudly - before pointing to my hat and telling me they like it :-) I really do love this place!
if you want to see more pictures you can check them out here
Posted by Rebecca Stanley at 8:25 PM