Revisiting the Vietnam War

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During my visit home over the holidays, my dad and I sat at the bar table sipping white peony tea.  He was nibbling on a cinnamon roll, I was snacking on some leftover Goi Cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls) my mom made earlier in the evening.

My father fought in the Vietnam war.  It’s where he met my mother.

There are a slew of Vietnam veterans scattered throughout the country, but few managed to bring back a local from the war torn remains of Vietnam.   Even fewer of these couples managed to keep their relationship together through the final, and most difficult hurdle: Culture Shock.  Even if Vietnamese woman were to escape her homeland and be with the GI of her dreams in the supposedly “happily ever after” ending following the Vietnam war, many of them experienced extreme culture shock from their new American home and intercultural marriage, and few could adapt to the foreign world they were living  in.  This is best portrayed in the movie Heaven and Earth, where after ten years of marriage the Vietnamese wife of a GI leaves the safe haven of the USA and, eventually, goes back to Vietnam. read more

A Funeral in Bali

I try to keep this blog strictly about Japan and China, but just this once I’m going to go off the beaten path and write about my Bali adventure.

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To be honest, I never intended to go to Bali in my entire life.  If it wasn’t for this Indonesian waiter that proposed to me at 17 and asked me to live with him in his newly constructed house in Bali (a story for yet another time), then I probably wouldn’t be able to point Bali out on a map.  I was completely unfamiliar with that area of Southeast Asia and now, I thought, it was a prime opportunity for learning. read more