Sunday, July 30, 2006
...when you're a stranger
But here I am and it is 9:30 am and I am exhausted from my days outing to find breakfast and leave my hotel for as long as I could manage.
This is my first weekend in Tra Vinh and I am totally alone. Normally I am totally fine with being alone, and in some respects I still am now. I am happy to entertain myself by reading or studying Vietnamese or poking around on the internet. However, language barriers coupled with the fact that I am, I think, the only foreigner in this town of 70,000 people, makes being alone quite daunting. The language thing is not that big of an issue on it's own; I mostly know my numbers and I can point to things and say "thank you" to hopefully make up for all of the social graces I am ignorant of. But here I am a walking freakshow. I see people nudging their friends as I walk past so as to make sure they don't miss getting a look at me. It seems that Vietnamese culture does not consider it rude to point and laugh at someone. Also since Hien from WUSC left, people (men especially) have started calling/yelling at me in the street. Sometimes they say something in Vietnamese and sometimes it is just "hello". I am not sure if they are just being friendly or if they are trying to make fun of me or what. I have tried to few tactics to deal with the situation: ignoring, nodding, replying... the first two seem to have the result that the person just stares at me as I pass but the latter seems to makes people want to continue shouting "hello! hello! hello!" I am just not sure how to take it.
I feel like a celebrity amoungst the paparazzi except without the money and fame!
The only other non-Vietnamese faces I have seen have been on billboards. I am so jealous of those faces who can just watch and soak up this beautiful place with out worriying about doing the wrong thing and without having to be a walking spectacle.
Posted by Anonymous at 9:58 AM