Thursday, February 02, 2012

Vietnam (9) Day 5 (2.2.12)

 Breakfast of noodles, eggs, greens, pork loaf, peanuts and a sweet sauce (I took a bite and was about to inhale the lot, then decided i needed a photo).
 Little messyfish occupying himself with the toothpick dispenser whilst I eat breakfast
The man who drives right by us on his motor bike whilst I eat breakfast, selling bananas. Convenient!

From my travel journal..."OMG! Its only been 5 days woozer what a trip. The hardest part has been parenting my 3 year old in a city. Being a country boy, he has nowhere safe to run, the ground is dirty, there are people everywhere that want to touch him, its hot, he doesnt like alot of smells, the motor bikes are smelly, the fish sauce, the noise of the horns etc. This morning I went for my delicious noodle breakfast again."
 Little messyfish ate rolls from the  ABC bakery and fresh bananas we bought whilst sitting at the table I ate breakfast from, in the alley of our hotel. He just loves going to that bakery. He runs around and around in there, and the 4 women who are staff there working on the floor chase and tickle him. It can get kind of crazy, and I get a little self conscious when other western travelers look disapprovingly at us. I especially became unsure about whether to let him tear around when a western mom picked up her daughter who was about the same age. That little girl was smiling, and I could see in her stance that she was just about to join in on the fun when she was swooped up. The owner of the bakery was there reprimanding the workers about work related things, but when he spied little messyfish tearing around he smiled and laughed and encouraged the fun. This is one of the things I just love about the Vietnamese culture. They are lovely and happy to see kids. They encourage fun, and they encourage "child" type activities (ie running around). I find with my culture, I get alot of stares and feel an expectation that I am meant to control my child in public so as not to disturb the very important adults. There seems to be little understanding that children are children and like to do childish things....wherever they are. Not just in there "designated areas, like playgrounds etc". maybe because there are so few places in Vietnam that are designated places for children, the vietnamese tolerate and even encourage child like play in all areas. I like the acceptance of children's "behaviours" in public spaces. Its comforting to  be able to be comfortable with my child where ever we are. Its incredibly difficult trying to control him or make him (always unsuccessfully) behave "sensibly" in spaces in Australia.
Then we came back to the hotel for a rest. Around 10am off to the park we went. I always hold Little messyfish in the ergo whilst crossing the road. I figure if we get hit, then at least we will be locked together, and he wont get lost if I am passed out somewhere! I also figured that if he was contained and close to me, he would be safer! Good figuring....
I looked to my left and saw that the road was clear. Yipee! quick....I stepped of the curb to cross quickly whilst there was no traffic. Whoops. I forgot that they drive on the opposite side of the road to me. I stepped right out into the traffic. Ouch. Crash. Motorbikes dominoed, I screamed in pain, panicked and crossed that road so quickly I dont really remeber what happened. When I go to the other side, I was able to sit on a short wall in the park and dare to look at my leg. Wow it hurt, but luckily just a small amount of blood, brocken skin and a big bruise.  I went to get a bottle of water, and luckily for me, it was semi frozen! Perfect! I iced my leg, whilst little messyfsh played in the park. He had a long play in the park, whilst I rested, and realized how lucky I was (and silly!). Eventually the shock of it all took hold, and the park just seemed like a very hot and dirty place to be. I wanted out of this town. I wanted out now. I was done. I was sick of the noise and business. I was bored of the park, and I wanted to go and find my little thatched huts where the children play nicely together with whittled sticks from the forest in the dust, whilst I learn all about the intricacies of the womens business whilst being shown how to cook delicious local specialties.

I was glad to put little messyfish in the ergo and leave the park. He fell asleep, so I walked the long wasy home. I was so happy to be able to look around and explore, without having to negotiate the streets with a little sensitive precious being. He was snug against my body, and as long as I remebered to watch where I walked, I would be right. It was so nice to not have to be present for him, and to just let my eyes and mind wander.
This is the part of the road where I got hit by the motor bike, right opposite the ABC bakery .

Little messyfish eating imported NZ icecream at the ABC Bakery on Pham Ngo Lao  Road Saigon.
I didnt venture too far. Little messyfish is 18kg, and its hot, and the footpaths dont always exist, and I didnt want to get lost. Instead though, I spied ATM's. It was time for me to venture into the "very scary for me" process of working out how they worked. I had no idea how much to get out. My calcuations told me that 2 million dong would be a good amount. Not too much in case it was stolen, not too little, as taking out too little with all the fees associated with ATM withdrawals would not be economical.
 This is the little fruit stall I met my friend Vicki at. Its also the stall where we found strawberries! What a lucky little stall this was for me.
I noticed that a nice looking woman made eye contact with me as she sipped her fruit smoothie, so I asked her how to use them. She assured me it was pretty straight forward. I was confident, so off I went. The only problem was that I was highly anxious and could not work out how many zero's to put behind my "2". First attempt failed. There was a que now, so I let the people behind me go. Then I tried again. This time I mastered it. I had 2,000,000 dong tucked safely into my money belt, under my shirt between the child and the ergo. I was hot and stinky. He was heavy. I said goodbye to that lovely woman, as she was the first positive and friendly traveller I had come across (I later found out her name was Vicki, world traveller, mother and all round amazing and beautiful person who I just love!). She gave me the name of a hotel in Nha Trang that she said I would really love. It was clean and close to the beach. I took down the name of it and kept it in mind incase I didnt like the hotel I had already booked. Things were looking up, and I was feeling good again.
Strangely, when I was in India, the culture shock for a lot of westerners was so intense, and the lack of drinking culture meant that most travelers were very friendly and made eye contact and checked in with each other. It felt like we were all looking out for each other. I had a wonderful experience with other travelers in India. I do not know if it was the different culture, the fact that its much easier going for a traveler, of simply that now I am fat grey and with babe, that a lot of travelers avoid eye contact, or look straight through me. I was particularly struck by this when I first arrived and was in the taxi unloading myself, backpack and child. Not one person (except the lovely little vietnamese lady) offered to help. Many travelers just sat by their beer at their table and watched. This would never have happened when I was traveling India. Im not sure why though...

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