Habits. Schedules. Rituals. Sometimes it feels great to have routine in life, and nothing makes you feel warmer and fuzzier than finding out you have one in a foreign country. It helps you realize that yes; unexpectedly, you somehow managed to plant roots in this new place that you somehow home. The city is accepting you not as a foreign object or something that needs to be discarded; but rather, it’s slowly warming up to you and inching in closer and closer like a curious kitten meeting its new master.
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.
I’m running away from China and going here:
I really need to escape China. Badly. And I think anyone that’s lived here longer than a year can 100% agree with me.
Beaches. Rice Terraces. No masses of people. No spitting. No people shoving me every corner I turn. Sunshine. Clean air. Clean water. Food without fake meat (aka no fox meat substituted for beef).
Oh yes. Please.
Getting Out of China First
As I type this I’m in the Hangzhou airport. Since it’s National Holiday Here （国庆节） I decided to take the safe route and come early. During National Holiday, the roads are usually plugged up with traffic and the wait to purchase a train ticket can take a few hours. Although my flight leaves for Bali at 11:00 PM, I decided to get my ass out of Shanghai at 2:30 PM and come to the Hangzhou airport early.