I knew that living in Vietnam would change us. I just didn’t know how. Looking back at our lives a year and a half ago we didn’t dream this is where we would be. Here is the rundown.
We have changed how we eat. When you live someplace where fruit and vegetables are plentiful and cheap, and where processed foods, cheeses, and some of my favorite dishes are expensive or otherwise hard to come by, you have to adjust. A kilo of carrots runs about 5,000 dong – .23 cents. Cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, melons, mangos – all are cheap and plentiful when in season. We have cut back on meat – eating mostly chicken when we do eat meat. Interestingly lettuce has a very short life span so our salads usually consist of tomatoes, cucumbers and whatever else I have in the fridge.
We drink less. Wine is expensive, and drinking the way I like to drink (splitting a bottle every night) was a little much. It has been 6 weeks since we cut back and we notice our wallets are a bit more flush, waistlines slimmer – and we just feel better. I just heard a report that put me in the top 20% of drinkers in the US. How embarrassing – I thought everyone drank that much. Here is link to a similar article.
What – no car! I have found out we can live without a car. This is a good thing because we won’t have one when we return. Taxi’s are fairly cheap, we can go longer distances via train or bus for less than $10. When it isn’t blazing hot we like to walk or ride our bikes. As summer has hit us hard (May – October) we probably won’t be getting as much exercise as we did during the cooler months.
We meditate. Another new habit that we started about the same time we cut back on the wine. I had been trying and trying to meditate and wasn’t very successful so I asked my husband if he wanted to join me. To my surprise he said yes! For about 5 weeks we have been meditating almost every day, and we look forward to it. There are many guided meditations on YouTube (which works in Vietnam, unlike many websites) and we enjoy the quiet time together and usually have a good talk afterwards about any enlightenment we felt.
A whole new relationship. I have always felt really lucky about my relationship with my husband. We like each other, we enjoy being together and don’t fight very often. We have similar values which helps. When you are in a country with very few other native English speakers you have to rely on each other even more. We have enjoyed exploring Vietnam, riding our bikes into new neighborhoods and trying new food. If possible it has brought us much closer and we are much kinder to each other. When one of us is gone for more than a few days the loneliness is unbearable.
We are damn lucky. We live in a country where everyone has the right to vote. Imagine living where there is no choice. Officials are appointed, not elected. Government workers often get their jobs based on who you know or how much you are able to pay for the position (usually a years salary). Life for a disadvantaged youth here without connections or the ability to pay doesn’t offer much hope. Protesting is frowned upon and often the leaders are put in prison and not heard of again – or at least for many months. Even with the stupid anarchists I cheered our May Day protests. I give thanks for our interfering government that makes us pay taxes and provides us with so much.
Love the people. I have such an appreciation for the Vietnamese people. They are very proud of being Vietnamese with good reason. 4000 years of war – can you imagine? The generation X’ers here haven’t had to live with war, one of the first in a long time. Their traditions are important to them and followed, even living with your mother-in-law if you happen to be married to the eldest son. It makes sense, who is going to take care of mom and dad? @brettupchurch, I hope you are paying attention.
You can get by with so much less. Before moving here we downsized, and then downsized again believing it was better to replace than pay for storage. Now I wonder about replacing. Do we really need all that stuff? My closet has about 30 items – such freedom. When you don’t have so much to choose from it much easier to make a decision. We have 4 plates, bowls and sets of silverware. Makes it hard to throw a party but it works for us.
I miss my family. Walking with my dad at Bellevue Square, having coffee with my mom and sisters, taking a hike with my daughters, getting schooled in cooking by my youngest son. Most of all those beautiful little granddaughters. Grandchildren are such a gift. They grow too fast. Time flies and we aren’t there to witness the changes, that is difficult for me.
All in all moving here has been good for us. Both of us have lost weight and lowered our blood pressure dramatically. Looking at the USA from the outside gives a much different perspective. Do I regret our move? Not at all, but I really miss you guys.