Saturday, January 23, 2010


Listening to Blue Lines by Massive Attack-makes me realize how much I miss good, decent music. Here, live music does not seem to have it's place yet but I went to a cool yet stiflingly smoky bar (smoking ban a long way off by the look of things!) the other night called Yoko to listen to a fairly cool singer called To Phung. She had a great voice and a funky, unique look. Everywhere you go here there is "music" blaring. I described it to a friend as worse than eurovision music. But each to their own.

Yesterday was my first taste of being a tourist. While I loved the scenery and watching the life here, seeing it through tourists eyes was a tad depressing. The poverty here is pretty hardcore and I don't know if I will ever get used to it. We came back into Saigon at sunset by boat-stroke of luck-we got it for free and was wonderful to watch the many industries on the river and the lines of people waving at us as we went by-just brilliant. At one point along the way, the boat chugged and stopped abruptly. One of the boat staff stripped off to his boxers in front of us, slipped into the filthy water and went right under. He surfaced and threw a basket which had tangled on the motor. He did this with such ease, it was really impressive! And off we went.

All along the river we encountered many many shacks that people call home and I'm sure some of the kids I work with come from. When I tried to engage in conversation with an American backpacker about this, I was met with a one word answer. It really got under my skin. If travelling around the world can't inspire you to take in the rough with the smooth, then what's the point? I wanted to talk to them about it and express how sad it was to see how people live but I knew it wasn't worth it. So, introspective I went. I think it's a big reason why I have never felt compelled to travel because it seems to dim a lot of people's view of culture-almost like they block it out. Baffling stuff.

The Mekon Delta is really beautiful and one of the highlights was rowing down the river in the jungle in an old wooden boat. Again we met the people there all wanting money from us, the rich westerners. But aside from that, it was really fantastic. We sampled the local industries from honey, coconut and fruit and again the level of innovative streaks these people have is great. I lazed and slept on a hammock for a while and then went on a short bike ride (bicycle). That was cool, cycling along the narrow road soaking in the roasting sun and catching a glimpse of the sleepy locals as I whizzed by.

Life here has it's ups and downs. Today it is in the high 30's. I hear the endless construction noises, the relentless barking dog next door, a cock crowing and even sometimes I hear people singing in an eerily similar sean nos way! I have moments when I wonder what I'm doing here but these moments come and go. Fear is not something I see in people here. At home, people worry all the time, fret about the smallest of things. Here, they live from hand to mouth with a smile. I hope to take a leaf out of all their books.

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