Tonight (or rather late afternoon) I ventured back to the riverside place I had been to a few days ago. To enjoy the peaceful, calm, relaxed moments of the time before sunset looking at the river. In Europe we are privileged. Because this time of the day may last up to one hour. But here in this part of the world it’s a question of not more than 15 minutes.
I felt a bit like in Base Camp in Bansko (probably a stupid comparison) surrounded by people my own age group:
I had given my Vietnamese phone number to the German guide at My Son, living here, at the end of our excursion.
When I was just enjoying my Larue beer with ice he called. So, I told him where I was and he came to see me. Or tried to. But since he lives here only for two years he did not know where my local place would be and got my directions wrong. Eventually he arrived and we had in interesting conversation.
He is the first ex-pat living in Vietnam that I met – and to complement my picture of the country I was very keen on knowing how other foreigners see life in Vietnam (not to hear it only from Vietnamese). Well, people are different. I still invited him for dinner to my favourite seafood place (which he did not know either – but then, he has been here only 2 years). We had a tuna salad and a seafood salad and squid and prawns. And some more beers.
I got a great insight into the life of foreigners here and their problems with local bureaucracy – and the people. All from the perspective of a German, not to forget Fortunately, I know them well and realise how to interpret their views.
I am a very privileged person. Because I somehow have the ability to understand different people. And, given enough information, what makes them tick and what their desires are. Maybe because I love people. Not everyone is in such a fortunate position. Some people can live in a foreign place forever and still have no clue what local life around them is all about. Because they are focused on themselves. I absorb local life like a sponge
We got kind of kicked out of the restaurant at 9 pm – the normal closing hour for Vietnamese restaurants. My man from Berlin, whose name I still don’t know (because he did not volunteer it and I did not feel the urge to ask him) felt compelled to invite me for a drink at his favourite hangout before going home . It was, surprise, a tourist place with happy hour, pizza, pasta, burgers and the works!
They offered a “Happy Hour” deal: two drinks for the price of one (between 4pm and 7pm). And while the happy hour had passed a long time ago I did not want to stress the budget of this poor German and ordered a gin & tonic at the happy hour price – Of course, they brought me two g&ts when I wanted only one at half price, but at lest they honoured the “Happy Hour” price (3.65 Leva for two). Vietnam!
And from this glorious place we got kicked out at 10 pm – the time when all Vietnamese establishments close down! Apart from some night clubs in Hanoi that stay open till 11 pm.
So, here I am now, forced to indulge in Havana Club and coke as life around me has ceased.
By the way: the Vietnamese are very early risers. When I drove to the market in the centre, the peak of the rush hour seemed to have been at 6 am in the morning!!! Can you imagine?
Well, no wonder, all soup and noodle shops are full at 6 am, lunch is at 11 am – and dinner outside not later than 6pm (at home dinner in Vietnam is usually at 7pm, because they love to watch the extensive news on TV that start at that time). And latest at 9 pm all “normal” people are in bed. Only the younger ones stay up till 10pm.
In other words: the majority of people in Vietnam seem to get up at 5am, latest!
Now it’s past midnight again, thanks to this blog. Tomorrow (or rather this morning) I will be free. No more cultural obligations. I have seen everything in Hoi An by now. Beach, swimming pool, drinks and seafood! Lowly life, I know – but then: from time to time
Hasta la vista, conquistadores!…