Asia | South East Asia | Vietnam | South Central coast | Cam Ranh – another page
it’s soon 2am and i sit up on my bed to write. i’ve had trouble sleeping three nights on a row now and i feel a bit dizzy. but it doesn’t trouble or stress me. i listen to radiohead and feel alone in this house of sleeping people. people i feel alone around even when they are awake. even on those rare occasions when they actually say something to me, something that doesn’t contain the word ‘eat’. i want to put some pieces together now, words and paragraphs i’ve had in my head long enough – make a chapter for my travel diary. something a little different, maybe a little more personal. maybe a little uncoherent.
i’ve been sticking to my awake-during-daytime-asleep-at-night-time-schedual for what feels like very long. but now i’m slipping. losing it. and i’m back to the same question as always: what am i going to do about it? like paul simon sings: ‘breakdowns come and breakdowns go; so what are you gonna do about it? – that’s what i wanna know’.
i try to imagine going to Nha Trang or Sai Gon.. or maybe even to Ha Noi way up north. rent a room.
but what would i DO? volunteer work? lie on a bed and read all day? spend all day going to markets and cooking?
or should i just go back to norway? give up what i’ve started here because..
because what? because it’s not so comfortable? because it’s no ‘fun’? because i seriously feel like shit tonight?
i’ve thought about the possibility of meeting people to travel with – you know, people who plan or are allready here for travelling – joining them for a stretch of the road sort of.
but… but… but… the easiest is just to not do anything. just let it pass. just that ‘it’ isn’t passing, feels like ‘it’ got stuck in my throat. and i try to put my thoughts into words.
i.e.: why am i here?
well you all more or less know it.
i’m in for ‘the Trip of My Life’. a get-to-know-my-family kind of trip.
but it’s more then just about my relatives, it’s about the whole country. to put it really formally: i wish to obtain insight and understanding of the vietnamese culture.
in trying to understand the vietnamese i think i may learn something important about myself. that through meeting and living with my family – seeing them in their daily life – i’ll understand who my father is and who he were as a child.
understanding. that’s what it’s mostly about really.
so i bought this book called ‘understanding vietnam’ written by this american guy – Neil J. Jamieson. i’ve come to chapter 2 and it’s pretty good so far.
but all this understanding is not something it’s easy to fill days with. so i started some projects:
#1 Vietnamese Language
hm… but my learning projects aren’t so much about the ‘why am i here?’-question (come on! i went to vietnam when i was 21 to learn to play the guitar???), it’s more about ‘why am i still here?’. but it’s not the projects alone that are keeping me here. it’s also about maybe seeing my father. and of course because of this crazy understanding urge i have. i want answers to all those questions i’ve been carrying around since.. i don’t know when. since my dad left me when i was six i guess.
my dad’s coming on november 9. 10 in the morning.
i haven’t told anybody this.. but i lock up my things now. where there’s a lock i use it. horrible, isn’t it? but the snooping around and the rearranging of my things was driving me mad. i admit it: i’m isolating myself. i know it’s a bad sign and it’s allready been going on for a while. i’ve also kNOwn that it’s been going on for a while.
i want to confrim what i’ve said before; the best (or is it easiest?) way to learn a language and to get to know a culture is to get a boyfriend. only a boyfriend is interested enough, listens and want to understand what you’re trying to say. and you can ask him anything – he’ll explain some long and tricky matter or the rude joke you overheard. and he’s great company. not that i’m sorry to be single right now – someone to argue and fight with is the last thing i need now.
meeting some friends of family. the usual question and answer session (with answers in brackets for the interested):
where are you from? (norway)
how old are you? (22)
do you have a husband yet? (not yet – note: ‘no’ is the wrong answer)
do you have a boyfriend yet? (not yet – ‘not at the moment’ is not a good answer i found out. and oh – ‘do you have a sweetheart yet?’ is more common)
do you want to marry a vietnamese boy? (where i politely smile, meaning ‘no comment’)
do you like vietnam? (very pretty country)
do you like vietnamese people? (another polite smile)
how tall are you? (162cm)
how much do you weigh? (52kg)
how long have you been here? (over 4 months)
how long are you staying? (i don’t know. maybe another 7 months)
how much did your plane ticket cost? (about 100 US dollars, round trip)
your dad paid for it, didn’t he? (no, i did)
are there x in norway/peru? – replace ‘x’ with aNythiNG. also the most absurd things, like a pagoda down the street that there is only one of in all of vietnam or the moon.
and it goes on like this a bit more.
i’ve been asked by kids if i have children (jesus.. nO!) and how many people there are in my family (which i was unable to answer; half-siblings, both parents remarried, siblings i’ve never met, roger’s family and so is colette and pierre and.. well you get the picture). most stupid question i’ve been asked so far (by adults – and twice!!): have you ever seen rain before? (yes).
but usually new faces don’t address their questions to me. customers who come to my aunt’s ‘store’ will ask her about me (and add ‘does she speak vietnamese?’ almost at the beginning) in my presence as if i weren’t there. it’s the same way they treat their kids and i hate it – the talking about them when they’re there as if they were objects.
i miss my CDs!!!
my lunch is served before i’m hungry but i decide warm food is better then cold. and i feel a bit polite too. i scoop out the ants and the food is good.
a pen i threw away yesterday is lying on my desk. obviously it doesn’t work. that’s why i threw it out to the ants in the first place. seeing it on my desk pisses me off. because it’s happened one too many times. i can’t even throw away things in this house. it anonymously finds its way back to me and i don’t know in which direction to direct my rage.
the queen retreats to her fortress where she sulks away the rest of the afternoon.
there is comfort in compay segundo (un jardinero mi amor siembra una flor y se va. otro viene la cultiva de cual de los dos sera) and dissapearing in a book (not the one about understanding vietnam, one about some people in australia).
i think i’m developping a germophobia or something. i’m obsessing about having clean hands. seeing them piss everywhere and touch food with obviously dirty hands make me shudder. i’m disgusted at all the nose-picking and to see my cousins pee iN the house – only a few measly steps from the toilet – in the kitchen near the drain in the floor where food is at other times prepared.
i think back. to before – when? – before belgium i think. i thought a nice bathroom had a sink with a hot water tap, and of course: cold water, soap, something to dry hands on, toiletpaper, a clean ‘ring’ (whatever it’s name is) to sit on, that the toilet flushes, that the door closes, that there’s light, that it smells allright… anyway, in belgium i got used to do without the hOT water.. i think by now all i care about is to have ONe place that serves as ‘toilet’, i always have toilet paper on me and – frankly – i don’t care about the insects or if the door closes.
i’m writing this from an internet cafe. internet is fast. it’s cheap. and i avoid feeling unwelcome and in-the-way at uncle 6’s. problem solved. easy peasy. and the jerk who was smoking next to me just left.
i scowl at my reflection in the pink barbie-like mirror. toothpaste foam drips off my right elbow and i wonder if this happens to others as well. i spit in the barbie sink, rinse my mouth and right arm. and then get back into bed. emotionally exhausted. i fall asleep.
i’m a typical foreigner because of:
– the kind of slippers i like
– the way i walk (not looking down, i do keep my eyes to the ground more and more now though)
– i don’t think white skin necessarily is more beautiful then brown skin and i don’t mind the tan i’m getting.
– i drink a lot of water
i’m not typical because:
– i don’t like being stared at
– i don’t smile back at people shouting ‘hello’ in english at me
oh. and my dad. i know you’re wondering.
i feel… empty. scared of the hopes and expectations that i know have snuck into my heart. happy – a ‘finally’, ‘relieved’ sort of happy. importent – he’s coming alone and especially to see me. curious. excited. little. norwegian. lump-in-the-throat-feeling. quiet. unsure.
think of me these days, will you? i miss you guys. your letters and e-mails mean so much to me. and even though most of this is mostly written to myself (more diary then travel), i need you to know – i need to get this off my chest. too tired to check spelling now, i’ll do it .. later.. when i’m back in norway at the latest. when i fix up my pages – i plan to. mostly to have one diary on peru and another seperate one on vietnam.
yes yes – allready thinking ahead.