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Vietnam

Just another Sunday morning in Vietnam

A Buddhist monk chilling on his motorcycle in the park, while talking on his cell phone.

To say that Vietnamese culture is diverse and complex is to understate how incomprehensible it can be to a foreigner. I’ve been in country a year and a half, and I still feel like a newcomer. Will I ever understand this country? Possibly not, but I doubt that I will ever stop wanting to.

Just another morning

At the impromptu coffee shop that some lady sets up on the sidewalk every morning.

Moonset over Saigon

My spellcheck doesn’t think that’s a word. But I don’t know what else to call it. Early this morning, the moon was going down while the sun was coming up. The moon was setting while the sun was rising. So it’s a moonset, right?

5:46 am today.

No gender ambiguity here

This pencil case knows exactly who she is.

Finally

A made-up holiday that I can get excited about!

If you can’t be Batman

“SUPREME” is a pretty good second choice, I guess.

For some reason, I’m uneasy

Can’t quite put my finger on it, though.

Evidence for monolingualism

I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that this guy doesn’t speak a lot, if any, English.

Names are hard

My little game of lying to Starbucks when they ask for my name had another funny result. This time, I gave my name as “Ralph.” When they were little, my kids liked to tease their nonnative speaker mother for not being able to pronounce that name.  It was funny.  And I had to admit, I egged them on a little (sorry, honey).

Apparently, the “Ralph” name is not only hard to pronounce, it’s hard to hear, too.

Karma caught up to me later this week. I represented the Consulate at an educational thing.  This is what they did to my last name:

Meh, close enough.

Am I overreacting?

The video monitor in the lobby of the hotel broadcasts the names of their guests. Including the fact that some people are traveling alone.

Thanks for the grandly welcome, Indochine Palace Hotel, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather you not display my name in public like that.

As a physically fit white male, I don’t feel particularly vulnerable when staying in a hotel in a strange town. So I don’t feel that this violation of my privacy puts me at risk. But I wonder how I would feel if I were a woman? Would I want it public knowledge that I was alone in a hotel room? Would I feel like the hotel was advertising an opportunity to predators and criminals?

Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe my reaction is influenced by the current dialogue about sexual assault, and disregard for the rights of women not to feel like they could be victimized at any time. But maybe my eyes are being opened to the reality that women deal with every day. That they are vulnerable. That they have to be more cautious. That they don’t enjoy the freedom from fear that I do.

Am I overreacting? I hope so. But I fear that I am not.