March 26-28, 2010 – Days 456-458 – Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam
Well, the time has finally come. With our arrival in HCMC we have fully realized the ending of our trip…and the necessity to immediately being seeking gainful employment. Yikes!
It was a surprise to see how expensive everything is this city is, from lodging to market goods (tourist, fruit, and otherwise) to even the local food (pho excluded…though everyone eventually tires of this tasty cheap dish). So to fill our time and take our minds and eyes off our resumes we have been wandering the city in search of good shopping. To our great disappointment, it seems that nearly everything here is both exorbitantly priced and unbelievably cheaply made. Not a very useful combination, in our minds anyway. The tourist market is so sickeningly overpriced we have effectively boycotted it and left it overrun with tourist bus loads of older travelers in large tour groups with pockets bursting of local money. Hearing some of the prices they pay, it makes us wonder, don’t they know the exchange rate?!
On Saturday the 27th, we celebrated Earth Hour with the locals in front of the Opera House. It was pretty fun. There were the requiste “turning out” of several of the surroundings buildings, lighting lots of candles, some live music performances by Vietnamese stars, and plenty of excited clapping and shouting and waves of fiery things in the air. Despite the rain that poured down on us all, we still had a pretty good time symbolically saving the earth for 60 minutes on a Saturday night.
Since the city offers us little at this point, we have turned much of our remaining time preparing for our return and reintegration into the USA. We are feeling a flurry of emotions: excitement, anxiety, stress, confusion, resistance, more stress, curiosity. We have missed the creature comforts that come with the basic existence in our country; we are anxious about finding good jobs and a nice home; we are stressed about finding and keeping jobs, about moving to a new city with no contacts and no place to live; we are confused and resistant to the idea of leaving our willy nilly lifestyle (oh yeah, that thing called money….) in exchange for real responsibilities and deadlines; we are generally stressed about every aspect of getting back to, moving, working, and settling back into routine life; and we are ever curious to see how our view of our country and its people has changed—what’s it like, what are we like, can we really converse in full sentences with other English speaking people without the necessity of charades and broken languages, what will it feel like to know that no one else in the world cares about the past 16 months of our lives, except us? Everything will be different and we are approaching this massive change with the same emotions we had when we first left for this trip. Undoubtedly, it will a new adventure all in itself.