We are getting ready to leave Nha Trang for Da Lat and my home village, Don Duong, up in the mountains, where the temperature is mild and banana trees blend with pine trees. Nha Trang has been great, though. Here’s the view from our $23 hotel.
We’ve been going around eating everything and having a great time. The other night, walking back to our hotel, we saw a group of kids playing on the sidewalk in front of a bar. It was 10pm, and the four of them were playing soccer with a plastic bottle. They were laughing, so happy and carefree. Jameelah and I stopped, pining for the simpler days. Kids these days, with their phones and iPads, will never know the wonders and joy of playing in the streets. I missed my childhood, with ice cream trucks and tag and hide and seek. I was tempted to walk over and play with those kids kicking the bottle. Or maybe take their bottle, because if I can’t have my childhood happiness now, why should they.
The aunts came down from Don Duong and as tradition dictates, they immediately started passing judgement. Vietnamese people are pretty blunt and have no qualms about pointing out your flaws, especially if you’re related. “You look old,” said one. “And fat,” said another. A cousin added helpfully, “Didnt you get LASIK here last year? You still look stupified and a little…dull,” to which the rest of the family agreed. I slinked off somewhere nearby to cry, chewing on my boiled peanuts and green mango slices. If I had wanted to be called fat, old, and dull, I would have just stayed at my office.
It hasn’t been all fun and games, though. There are various family dramas that I now have to step in to resolve. And the other day, I caused an accident that could have killed some people. While getting out of a taxi, I opened the door and slammed into a motorcycle carrying three people. Bam, like that, the bike flipped over on top of the man, his mother, and a little girl of about 12. True, the taxi should have parked much closer to the curb, and the bike should not have gone on that side of the taxi. But still, I should have look. No one was injured. They had a few scratches, no blood, but the girl suddenly fainted from shock. The aunts came out to defend me. I apologized profusely and wanted to offer some money so they can repair their bike or something, but the aunts said no. Of course, the taxi had driven off immediately to avoid the police.
Anyway, that episode has put a damper on the vacation, knowing I ruined a family’s day and actually caused someone to faint. Otherwise it has been awesome. It’s so beautiful here, and so cheap, and so much food everywhere. Of course, after talking to the family, we are now trying to eat healthier. We order boiled greens to supplement our huge delicious meals.
Ok, WiFi is dying again. Will write more from Da Lat, the City of Eternal Spring.