Living in Saigon has its perks. It a great place. You need time and an open mind. We live in a traditional neighborhood. All walks of life seem to be around us. From grandmas and grandpas who have lived and experienced the American war to newly-weds. There are people who have money and people of the opposite end of the spectrum. One thing that we can say is that people around our neighborhood seem to live a very relaxed lifestyle. Every morning when we open our doors you see a group of people eating Huu tieu. Our work schedule out here is always changing. Sometimes we stay out late and sometimes we go to bed early. Every now and then if we are awake at 4 am we see the ladies start their day off and prepare their breakfast meal for the day. Breakfast seems to start at 6am and finish around 10am.
We live in a great place where there are a lot of little kids who are eager to say hello or give you a polite nod and bow. I couldn’t tell you how many times I soon as I stepped outside of my house one of our neighbors come to me and offer me a beer to drink with them. I believe they are trying to show me their appreciation for us.
One of the most unique experiences was on New Year’s Day. We were woken up by loud music and guys in the background screaming một, hai, ba… yoooooooooooo! (one, two three cheers) Shauna’s sister Kristi was in town and we wanted to go shopping that day. As soon as we walked out of the house, we were invited to our neighbor’s celebration of the New Year. It was only 11:00am and about 16 guys were drinking, eating and being merry. They even had a personal DJ from Australia. This is where having an open mind comes into play and we had to go with it. They offered us food and beverages and invited us to partake in the festivities. We did. It was a really nice experience. We felt as if we were home in America celebrating the New Year’s with our families. (See the video to really get the feel of that day.)
Our adopted Vietnamese mother outside of our house is one of the sweetest ladies in our neighborhood and she always takes the time to listen to us attempt to speak Vietnamese. Shauna is definitely better than me. She and her sisters are always willing to sit down with us and talk to us. Last week I was talking to her about how she makes her own blend and pepper sauce and she agreed to show me how to make it. Sadly, the next day I was feeling a bit tired and took a long nap. Later, that same day, she gave me a bottle of her freshly made pepper sauce. Our other neighbor has a cute grandson who is about 15 months old and he gives us a kiss every time we see them outside. Everyone is very welcoming.
The other day we met found out that the guys who sell Nước mía (freshly squeezed sugar cane juice) across from our house fought side by side with the Americans. He showed us histattoo that he got during the war. It’s a military anchor that says love and peace. Everyday we learn something new about our neighbors.