Xin chào, Việt Nam
I’m sitting in an internet cafe in Tokyo’s Narita Airport, on my way to the US for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. It’s become a six-month stay with my parents before I relocate to Korea in February.
Sorry I didn’t say anything sooner. Vietnam’s firewall against bloggers was stronger and I could not even log in via proxy, even though I say nice things about the country.
The decision to move was quite spontaneous; I sat down to dinner one night and told myself, “You’ve only been offered jobs teaching primary school next year. You’re not kind to small children; you treat them like dogs. Move to Korea.”
Finances aside, I’ve been on antibiotics a dozen times in the past year, been treated twice from scabies and seem to have an incurable folliculitis infection on my legs. Strangely, I have not been sick once with food poisoning.
Leaving feels anti-climatic. Shouldn’t my last sip fresh sugarcane juice be imbued with significance? Shouldn’t I slowly say goodbye to the places I have loved and frequented in Hanoi? But at the opposite end of leaving is arriving at the threshold of a new adventure. In Korea, there will be the challenge of using metal chopsticks, learning an alphabet made up of characters and the excitement of living in a cosmopolitan, modern Asian country. For a brief six months in the USA, I’ll face the difficulty of living with my parents for the first time in seven years. Then there is the fact that they have moved to a new town and I won’t know anyone. And I’ll probably have to work in customer service again.
Saying goodbye to friends was hard but expats, especially those of us in our twenties, are so transient that it has become routine. I’ll keep in touch with a few and I prefer to think that we will cross paths again someday. Of course, I had to go falling in love a week before I left but, hey, that’s typical.
Honestly, it was harder to bid adieu to Yellow Fever, my trusty Honda Wave motorbike. She got me safely to work and around town every day. She even drove through a knee-high flood during a monsoon a few weeks ago without stalling.
Then there is Hanoi’s endearing organized chaos and state of functional disrepair. There is a slapstick attitude toward fixing things that, while inefficient, I adore for its similarity to my approach to fixing things.
For now, let that be food for thought. The connecting counter is open for American Airlines and I can get my ticket to Dallas. Then, a much needed cup of coffee.