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My trip to Vietnam was nothing like what I had expected it would be. I was forewarned of the dangers I would encounter, specifically, robbery. My grandmother suggested that I sew a pocket inside my knickers and store my money there. I didn’t encounter any problems. All I knew about my visit to Vietnam was that there would be 90-plus degrees weather and lots of rain. I was going to be a foreigner in a foreign country.
My cousins exposed me to a lot of Vietnam’s culture. We spent a lot of our time together, especially at night. Our hangout time would be around 7PM when teenagers are spotted everywhere. They would bicycle around with their friends; girls would show skin since the weather was cooler and guys would flash their come hither smiles. I found the way they lived over there very intriguing. The nightlife was beautiful, both in Saigon and Bac Lieu. The breeze, flashing lights, and people made the atmosphere. My two cousins, Quyen, 13, Ya Mi, 12, and I would cruise around, people watch, and occasionally stop for drinks or desserts. When I hung out with them, I felt free and light. I loved it.
Even though I stayed in Bac Lieu the majority of the time, I did touristy stuff as well. We visited the beaches, such as Nha Trang and Dai Lac; Dai Lac being my favorite, and Saigon’s amusement park, Suoi Tien. I lost my camera there on the go-karts. Never again will that happen. The whole incident burst my bubble; say bye to a hundred and fifty eight pictures.
Among other things, Dai Lac was one of my favorite places due to the pleasing weather. My mother’s family warned that it would be chilly but quite the contrary. The weather was sunny and breezy, perfect weather for a Houstonian such as myself. The people there sported puffer jackets and would stare at my family and I as if we were crazy due to our “carefree” dressing (i.e. tanks tops and shorts). We had failed to meet their expectations of being cold.
Alas, the whole point of the trip was to meet my mother’s side of the family. I bonded with my cousins, especially the girls. I was able to meet all of my nine aunts and uncles and eleven cousins. Although we didn’t communicate as much, I was happy I had a chance to meet them. Since my grandfather is sick, my mother took my younger brother and I to Vietnam so we would have a chance to meet one another.
Communication was a little difficult at first. The first two weeks of our month and a half stay was pretty awkward. I didn’t want to force myself to communicate with them since it’d only make it weirder for me but I did feel there was a bond when I left. My grandmother had told me that she wished she had never met us since it made it harder for her to see us leave – that if she hadn’t met us, it wouldn’t be as hard since we had already imprinted ourselves in her memories. In a way it’s true but I’m glad I made the trip. I now see Vietnam in a new light. It’s a country that’s trying to keep up while still keeping its own traditions. There will definitely be another trip!