Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lost in translation

I am trying to learn some basic Vietnamese while I'm here. I want to attempt to speak to people without relying on them speaking English and, to be honest, one thing I am desperate to do at this point, is differentiate myself from the tourists here. Now, I know I am a tourist by default, but I am planning to work and live here for a while, so I need to make the transition from being seen as a holiday maker to a person who is just a small part of a bigger whole. For one thing, I can't afford to spend money like I'm on holiday every day, it's not tenable, and I don't know whether this can be achieved in Hanoi, but I'll come back to that.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Why does it always rain on me?

Well it doesn't actually, for the last three weeks I've not seen a spot of rain, only blistering heat and humidity. But as the train from Nha Trang passed into Hoi An and onto Da Nang, the heavens opened in a manner I've rarely seen before. Rain, sheeting, sheeting rain. And this isn't even the rainy season. The pac a macs we were beginning to wonder if we should even bother bringing we're suddenly worth their weight in gold. My partner got himself an ex army one that made him look rather dignified, like an outdoorsy hero from a novel about hobbits and elves, but I looked a bit more, well, hmm. You see mine is pug poncho which is awesome and does the job but also had the effect of making me look like a naughty child from a Roald Dahl novel who was receiving their ironic punishment. Especially as I had all the camera equipment and bags hidden under it, I looked like you could just roll me down a hill. Weirdly though, as absurd as I looked, the bizarreness of the situation actually broke what was beginning to become a bit of a downer for me.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Progress: 'It happens'

Lying awake at 3.00 am, or thereabouts, in our hotel in Nha Trang, I can hear the monks in the Temple over the road doing their daily chants, accompanied by the thing they use that sounds like a cymbal (I think it's called a singing bowl?) The noise rolls, ascends and goes quiet. The chanting continues and then the process starts again. The first night I heard this I found it disconcerting, almost haunting. Now I find it comforting, like they are acknowledging a new day before the rest of usually even open our eyes to it. The monks have so far been the only thing that I have really liked about Nha Trang, and we are leaving tomorrow.