I have changed countries once more. Two weeks ago I moved from Matt's posh, air-conditioned, fully furnished, amazingly couched (yes couch as a verb) apartment...to a single room, living with a Vietnamese family. Minus the heartbreak, spontaneous crying and complete feeling of loneliness, the move has provided the same scalp tingle as a stamp in my passport.
A major characteristic of Vietnam is the divide of living standards. In this country, you will see an oil-soaked, one armed mechanic fixing a Mercedes-Benz. The average monthly salary is still under 200.00 a month, yet the money that is being poured into development and high-cost living is disgusting. Dare I compare it to an inflated bubble waiting to burst? Anyhow, this is how Matt and I could live in a beautiful, Western-style apartment, then I could move literally down the street and experience the opposite standard of living.
Quick description of the family....
"Home Mama", has three grown children. Two of which still live with her. She is abnormally divorced. They run a very popular business out of their "kitchen". I have no idea what food they concoct, but I hear it is delicious and none of their cooking practices are up to code. I mean the large cakes they make are often stored on-top of their motorbikes. No one in the family sleeps in the bedrooms of the house (with the exception of the oldest son and his wife, they sleep in the room opposite mine). Instead, one son sleeps on a hammock amongst the motorbikes, Home Mama sleeps on a cot on the first-floor landing, and when her grandson sleeps here he sleeps in a box...more later. The other three bedrooms are occupied by boarders, my good friend Jacklyn (first floor), me (second floor), Janel a hippie, Filipino, who is in a band and makes his own furniture from recycled items (third floor).
It is a full house, but we all fit very well. It is not abnormal for the Vietnamese to sleep on the floor of their living room. Beds are more of a western concept. I do enjoy the family environment, they look after me. However...
Sometimes I'm a bit of novelty act. I'm learning Vietnamese and they are super excited. So Home Mama sometimes calls the neighbors to watch my Vietnamese lessons with her daughter-in law.
Sometimes, it becomes a bit smothering. I went downstairs yesterday, to boil eggs. I'm 24, I've lived in three countries in the past four years... before yesterday I was under the impression I could boil my own eggs. A support crew of four, who refused to let me touch an egg, or even fill my own pot...told me otherwise.
Sometimes, it becomes a bit strange. I walked in this morning and the grandson was curled up in a box, sleeping as a cat would. Yesterday, I walked down the stairs and he was pooing in a bucket while playing with a Transformer robot....we have multiple bathrooms in the house, I can only describe if this behavior is youthful laziness.
Sometimes, it becomes a bit disgusting. This morning, I was kick starting, my beautiful, bright orange, 1960's Vespa. The noise of the Vespa and the sun reflecting off of my blond hair already draws enough eyes...however, this morning they certainly received and extra bang for their dong. My foot lost its tracking on the pavement, causing me to hurl forward and smack my head on the steering wheel. This drew sniggers in itself...then I look down to see the apparent banana peel I had slipped on...but this wasn't your usual rated PG, Charley Chaplin, slip...the bottom of my shoe was red-with guts. I had slipped on a dead rat.
Gag. Yet oddly, a shrug off moment, as I was late to class.