At this point, my camera had died from the bicycle fall the day before. Such a pity, but these pictures turned out really pretty anyway.
Riding along the countryside with the mountains and rivers by my side I couldn’t help but feel like Geography is such a wonderful discipline. Navigating within the village, looking at the children play, I thought about my days in Baan Rak Thai again. What I’ve learnt in urban jungle Singapore is so hard to be applied in itself but within the world, I see it everywhere – the things I’ve learnt from the texts come alive. And I love it. With every fibre of my being, I do.
The world is truly my classroom.
I was starting to understand why they said to travel when you’re young. Previously I thought I’d get the chance anyway, when I’m older. But my positionality as a student, a young girl, armed with naïveté about the world, it shapes and enriches my experiences in many ways. In my 30s I might be tied down with various commitments, with a lack of an extended time frame to travel. I might not be able to haggle as much or attempt to sneak into places without coming off as an unruly immoral adult upon getting caught. A student holds many perks and somehow people are kinder to me, I feel. Being younger than the shopkeepers, the motorbike taxi uncle, the stall owners, have them asking questions and watching after me, somehow. Plus, there’s just too many places in the world to go – I want to move from cities to cities for extended periods of time but my holidays will be limited. No time beats right now.
I visited the three tombs, disappointingly almost, by a motorbike taxi. Khai Dinh, Minh Mang and Tu Duc tomb. I say disappointingly because I kind of wish I had braved the journey and cycled the kilometres there, as many travellers did. Still, I was to meet Thao in the afternoon for lunch so there was time constraints, and the journey there was a breeze; i count myself fortunate.
of all, i liked Khai Dinh tomb best. After seeing some pictures of it, seeing it right before me made me excited indeed.
Thao unquestioningly brought me to her place, despite having known me only from the day before. I was somewhat amazed. All the same I carried in me a tinge of wariness that was rapidly dismissed when I stepped in seeing how she had led me, a stranger, to her place, without any fear that I would disrupt the family and children she was staying with. I ate some vegetables, potato soup, tau kua and rice.
Before we parted for the final time that evening she handed me a beautifully wrapped porcelain gift. For someone she’s only met for 2 days, I am beyond touched :’)
What I learnt today –
Lotus as the national flower of Vietnam, hence the lotus symbol on Vietnam Airlines
The Vietnamese put on a cardigan or jacket of sorts despite the sweltering heat. A student mentioned that it was because retaining the temperature of the body was cooler than being exposed to the sun. I remember my surprise when I first saw Vietnamese putting on more layers despite myself sweating profusely; now I understood better. As one wearing a tank top and a cap (without a face mask) under this heat, my status as a foreigner was readily revealed.
Face masks on due to air pollution, and to protect their faces from the sun
Anti natal policy – to stop at 4 (!!!) children. In the villages they have more, possibly because they want to try until they get a boy. (As she told me this, I nodded and in my head I was like GEOG TEXTS COME TO LIFE)
I must have walked at least 5km over the days under this heat. Turning shades darker in these 3 days than the 2 weeks I spent in Da Nang.