Currently , Charlie and I are sat in a cafe somewhere in the suburbs of Danang, Vietnam. We are the sole customers, and ten minutes ago the girl working here came to give us a free cup of tea, then resumed slouching over her phone screen watching Youtube. Not really sure what to do now, so have decided to write this blog and wait until she realises the value of our presence and pays us attention.
Since we have now encountered a spectrum of characters, I thought I would lovingly impart some observations that I have made along the way.
Some of the travellers have incredible stories. One Australian man has essentially renouned his life and succumbed to his love of travelling indefinitely, collecting economically strategic skills along the way. His Thai massage training is surely an excellent idea, since in the West we pay excessive amounts to have strangers punch sensitive areas.
Equally, we have met really annoying people. Envisage the dreadlocked male who verbalises the profundity of his thoughts (no one asked) and tells us that he likes visiting temples because he is just ‘so spiritual’. Also, he is wearing what can only be described as a wrap skirt. Of course he is in Vietnam, and of course he does not know that he will ever return home because the thought of a conventional life repulses him so (‘although I do have to be back late June for a festival.’ Righto).
In the same hostel, we met a boy who was a travel blogger, of which he informed us endlessly.
‘I am nineteen and have done things that most people have not done their entire lives,’ our modest companion informed us over breakfast. ‘I climbed a mountain with all of my belongings on my back, and met the Dalai Lama. He was just the sort that you would want to sit and smoke with, you know. I am personally friends with so many travel bloggers, they even follow me on Instagram.’
I could pretend that my dislike for him is not at least partially arisen from the spite of him having my dream job, but it would be unconvincing.
‘How arrogant is he? Don’t even know who the Dalai Lama is,’ Charlie later hissed. I appreciated that from her.
Something else that we have noticed is a distinct lack of racial diversity in both Vietnam and Cambodia. This might not seem a significant fact to someone reading this blog, but it means that I am somewhat of a spectacle to them.
‘Where are you from?’ they ask me.
‘England,’ I reply, knowing the confusion that I am about to inspire.
They point at Charlie and I, laughing. ‘Same place different skin! One light one dark!’
‘Yes, mum from England dad from Sri Lanka,’ I explain (a simplified truth but too much mixed-racedness is such unfamiliar territory to them that I don’t normally bother). They usually flash me a ‘yeah, not buying it’ smile and resume poking us and calling us LADY, trying to sell us dried up pig’s organ.
It might seem funny at points, but when it happens frequently and is accompanied by people pointing and staring in the street it is less so. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it slides from funny to annoying. I don’t think that it’s much of an ask for them to not do that.
Not all attention is bad attention, however; tourists are thoroughly exciting to local children, especially the ones in the more rural areas that we visit where Westerners are scarce. If you enjoy having infants screech ‘HELLOOOO HELLO HELLO SIT DOWN WHAT YOUR NAME‘, brandishing their freshly memorised English at you as though it is their fortune (which, in their defence it may be given the career oppurtunities that learning English grants) then Cambodian villages are the one. Conversely, if you are hungover, tired, or just not in the mood to be followed around and shouted at, then I would avoid any area with people in in South East Asia.
Although the younger generation are keen to flaunt their linguistic competences, it seems that t-shirt manufacturers wish to do the opposite. Having English slogans on your chest is apparently the dominant trend in female fashion here (that and floral pant suits), but their wearers do not seem to realise that walking around with a top that reads ‘sex savage death’ or ‘MISSILE’ is weird. The spelling is also questionable; it seems that in fashion the consumer’s ignorance is very much bliss.
I will close this blog with the wonderful tale of How I Got Woken Up on Sunday Morning.
Basically, by two people having sex half in my bed. Not really sure why they felt the need to take up space on my bed when half of theirs was available, but I can only assume that they were the type to get some enjoyment out of other people noticing their weird, fleshy bodies. But don’t feel bad for me, because they thanked me for the free loan of the bed that I was still in by giving me evils. Besides, it was so hot that night that I was sleeping in my underwear, so I got the privilege of feeling like a third party member.
(Genuinely almost took a photo to show Charlie which might have made this post more interesting, but as I raised my phone camera I realised that it could possibly have been construed as creepy).
If you are interested in the resolution of the saga that is the waitress who gave us free tea and then left us for her phone, then read on. She gave us more tea then left again. We arose cautiously without paying and she remained unperturbed. So it seems that there is a cafe somewhere in Danang that is in fact a non-profit organisation for confused Westerners in need of a luke-warm beverage and some tough love.
On a more cultural note, here are some photos of our antics thus far in Vietnam. Enjoy cherubs x
Fishing village in Mui Ne
Trang Anh grotto river ride
A woman and her duck crew, and a view from a hill near Tam Coc, Vietnam
Abandoned water park in Hue (extremely cool, we went when it was raining so there was almost no one else there.)
Chazzle my muse in Fairy Stream, Mui Ne
Frolicking infants in Sapa