March 14, 2006

Out and about around Hue

My bicycle took me around a huge round-about. I was centred among criss-crossing motos infront, beside and behind me. It looked like chaos but for some reason it all made sense and seemed natural, nobody hit me or even came too close and I felt relatively calm gliding steadily with the flow. By the day's end, I even braved making a left hand turn (Laos and Vietnam both drive on the right... usually). How silly I thought it necessary to wear a helmet in Toronto! But before this turn, I'll admit to the brief halt to examine the situation. In one moment a woman approached pointing to water. I say "No thank you" with a smile which triggers her to abandon the thought of a sale and ask one of the usual questions "How old are you?" "30" She holds my arm firmly. "How old are you?" "30" "Lying. You Lie! Why do you lie to me?" "I'm not lying, it's true!" Maybe she believed me, maybe she didn't, but for now on I'm 25 to avoid these looks of shock and conversation-stopper-situations once and for all. And maybe then it will be more acceptable that I'm not married or have any kids. It's really funny and I take it as a compliment, but really, this is getting way too repetitive!

My opinion about the Vietnamese gets stronger every time I see another one smile with pure delight. They are truely the sweetest people I have ever met. Many will say hello when they see me. Other's stares transform into outbreaks of laughter when I say hello first. Maybe it's just Hue, but they do not get upset or lose interest when I don't want to buy. They just genuinely seem to enjoy having an English conversation. Women squeeze my arms and look deep in my eyes. Girls hold my hands and giggle with me. Cyclo drivers ride beside and ask what I did today (knowing I do not need a ride). Little boys jump up and down when I tell them my name. They are so lovely!

Oh ya, I saw a Japanese covered bridge, 7km out of town, past enormous rice paddies. But it was definitely about the journey today. The best (and pretty much only) part of my day was passing people and watching for their amazing reactions. P

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