30 April 2011

33 years later

30Apr11 Saigon
Went for a 'get me outtahere' drive today - 
just took the motorbike and drove out East, following my gut instinct and curiosity,
over bridges and rivers, and down into almost empty land
lots of nature, trees, palms, and everywhere rubble and houses that had been bulldozed and demolished.

driving further I ended up directly opposite the fancy main street of Saigon, on the other side of of ther river. There was the Majestic Hotel.

On this side it was a slow , forgotten village, barbed wire for land that would be developed.
old men on motorbikes,
sleepy town,
dogs in the sun

women in the market looking at the foreigner on his motorbike.
Driving along the riverside, now on the other side are container ships, wharfs, and on my kids swim, 90% of the houses are knocked down,
ready for mega development.

There is something about this place,
the freedom, the motorbike, the space,  and the slow pace of life here, and just across the river, the hi tech, super intense Saigon.
the line from Hotel CAlifornia come into my mind.

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell

but it is more than that,
the atmophere the sunlight,and the knowledge that I'm free,
I feel like I used to feel at eighteen, travelling in SE Asia, the world to explore,
full of possibilities,
the invisible bars of fear had not hemmed me in quite as much.

And now at age fifety one,
, I remember this time and that same feeling comes back to me. It feels like a HUGE circle has closed.
33 years later, still trecking through Asia, exploring life,
nothing much has changed.
Full of questions
almost the same questions,
lots more experience.
but most of all an excitement about life and love of the adventure of it.
I've stepped out of the Hive, out of the organized implicity, asssumed, fears of what 'one should do' what 'one should worry about' and 'what is peer acceptable behaviour'. Fuckit all.

then it's back to central Saigon, cool airconditioned cafe with Yoghurt fruit salad and wireless internet, to send this by email.

29 April 2011

bootstrapping your education: do it yourself English in Vietnam

I went to the Tango juice bar & cafe the other day.
I was greeted by a young university student working as a waitress. Her English was good and different. 
She spoke fluently, colloquial natural English. 
It was too natural to come from an "institution". She either spent time overseas, had a foreign boyfriend or something else...
I was curious. 
"where did you learn English ?" - I like to ask this. 
"By myself." 
"You mean you didn't go to an English School ? " 
"Yes." She looks a little hesitant, as though it was bad to admit this. 
"Wow, your English is great. How did you teach yourself." 
"Movies. I listen and repeat whatever I hear." 
We chat some more. 
Turns out she studies in English books like the "The Seven habits of successful people..."
She asks customers what the difference between five star and this Cafe is in terms of service. 
Her study area is Hospitality. 
At home she has paper and notes of English words everywhere. 

All this is self discovered. 
She does not have the funds for expensive English Schools. It's not the piece of paper she needs it's the ability. 
So she gets it. 
Movies, books, practicing with foreign customers in the cafe. 
Whatever way she can. 

She is not the only one. 
I've since met others, who do the same. 

There are English conversation clubs all over Saigon. 
Before I leave she asks my name. 
She's called Nhi. 

I can't imagine this level of informal exchange in a Western context. Maybe that's just me. 
And I haven't seen this kind of self motivation in many other places. 
Vietnam impresses me.

Aswan, Egypt, Tombs of the Nobles