HANOI – A Province like city

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*everything I write here is based solely on my opinion

On my way home from school,  just finished one class in the morning…my bag on one hand and a plastic full of Chinese cabbage. 

Yes! You read it right! A plastic full of Chinese cabbage from school!! My employer gave it to me. They got a couple beds of Chinese cabbage right at their backyard.

It was just the other week when I went home with a plastic full of ‘manila’ clams, from school. Of course, clams don’t grow in the backyard, it was brought by the mother of my employer, and so she gave me some.

And not just two times but a lot of times when I go home with a plastic full of watchamacallits! There were even some days when my boss visits me with a meal for dinner or lunch, sometimes the office staff had to take care of me when I got sick and had a porridge ready. I’m totally speechless!

‘Your like a sister’, “Your family’s not here, no one will take care of you”, “It’s nothing, everyone would do the same thing’. These are some of their answers when asked ‘Why are you doing this”?

I’m very grateful for everything they have done without hesitations and a thought of something in return. Though someone is a foreigner, Vietnamese people treat you like your a local person but with a little bit of TLC [Tender Loving Care).

These instances rarely happen in the city.  Back in my country, in the provinces, people know almost everyone.  They live a simple life, where everybody cares for their neighbor. Whereas in the city, almost everyone is indifferent. All people are just so occupied of making money and living their dreams and a couple of friends is just enough to share your thoughts with.

Hence, one could say,Hanoi is a city-like-province.  They share food, clothes, and other stuffs. Individualism is a rare thing here.

But sometimes a foreigner like me would have this feeling of awkwardness.

There just too much closeness at work that there is a need to draw a borderline and it’s called professionalism.

A friend of mine who lives in a dorm at school, complains about the staff ‘s rudeness. Opening someone’s door without knocking, opening the grocery bag which you brought from the grocers, calling you at the wee hours, ..and other things that are not that big of a matter but makes you annoyed.

I know the office staff and other students don’t mean any harm to my friend because they think of her like their close friend.

However it should be understood that foreigners are FOREIGN. They are people who have different cultures and values.

What upsets others, might not upset you or what makes people happy, might just be a corny joke to you. But there is a need to respect that difference!

I’m not saying that the people here are rude. There are advantages and disadvantages to a place. I’ve meet really amazing people, my boss and my students are really nice. They’ve been very good since I came here. I love the culture and their traditions. I respect their faith and principles.

It’s just that sometimes we have to consider that we live in a vast world. We meet different people from different backgrounds and we should respect that.


Hanoi Diaries 1

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Happy New Year everyone!!

I haven’t done a lot of writing lately. I’m having trouble with net connection since I moved to my new room.

Yes. New Year, New room, quite  fit for a new start.

I’m staying in  a flat alone, yes a bit lonely for the beginning of the year. I’m still in Hanoi but quite far from the city center and I have to travel for 40 minutes by car or ‘xeom’- a motorbike for hire.

I did a lot of organizing of this and that for the last few days. Boy! I’m glad that I’m back in front of my laptop again and typing this post. WHEEEEE!!!~

Anyway, after my daily routine ;wake up (at noon ^^)-eat lunch-have a class-go back to my room, I decided to go for a walk since I’m not very familiar with the town yet.

Supposedly, I was trying to find a fruit stand for my midnight munch but most stores are closed but it was still late 8. Most stores in Hanoi close early at night. I already mentioned that before in some of my reposts from blogger.

Going back to the story, I went quite far and found a lady  fanning a corn on a grill. I’ve been craving for grilled corns since I came here, but my friends advised not to buy one because they usually sell it outside with all the smog from the thousands of motorbikes and cars that pass ever minute. Nevertheless I bought one and I think there isn’t much pollution in this part of town so, it may be a little cleaner than the ones in the city center.

Then I asked her to give me one piece in their language, which I really gave my best effort so she will think I’m Vietnamese (to avoid being ripped off; few vendors do that to foreigners) but I guessed it didn’t work and asked if I’m from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city).

I explained that I’m from the Philippines and couldn’t understand much, then she got excited and started asking questions in Vietnamese. I don’t know why they do that, even though I say ‘keum-hyeo’ which means I don’t understand. It happened many times and I got a way to make them stop, by nodding my way out and thanking them for what I bought. Fortunately, I was given my exact change.

On my way back home, I realized that I overlooked a small fruit stand at the corner. I was so happy to find one and decided to check on some apples. The vendor was an old man, he looked haggard. At first I was scared to buy because he started saying somethings and then laugh but then again I thought I was lucky enough that there is  an open fruit store.

The fruits, especially some of the apples he was selling were soiled but were still good enough so I bought two. I handed 50 VND to him and he’s supposed to give me 32 VND for a change. But he gave me 0ne 20 VND and three 10 VND bills. So I explained that I gave him 50, then he said sorry and gave me two 10 VND bills,  70 VND in all.  He was apologizing. I was so confused and annoyed.

I showed him again the the 50 bill on his hand, the one I gave him, and pointed that he gave me 70 VND. He’s expression changed and he was saying sorry repeatedly.But he gave me another 10 VND , two 2 VND  and other bills.

That moment  I felt pity. I feel so sorry for him. I got 32 VND from the money he gave me and handed the rest, thanked him and said goodbye. He looked at the money I gave him and maybe from that moment he realized that he gave me extra. He SMILED. I could never forget that smile. A genuine one. He thanked me like how he apologized repeatedly awhile ago.

I feel happy to see his smile.

I feel guilty for thinking that all vendors are bad and they rip off every foreign customer.

I hope he won’t get cheated by chance takers out there. That’s some realization for the start of 2013. ^^

God Bless us all!