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On the topic of Vietnam and Band-Aids...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Since I was talking about my travels to Vietnam yesterday, I thought I would open up a random page from my journal (as I have started to recently do in other posts).
Here's what I opened to:

Wednesday, October 8, 2003 5:10 p.m.
"So far I have only been writing while attending meetings. Now I am in the air-conditioned comfort of my room. I am going out for supper with Bronwen and Heidi - I am scared to go back out into the sweltering heat again - over 40 degrees Celsius !. I have never expereinced such heat - intense intense intense - my feet have been swollen from the moment I arrived and swollen sweaty feet mean blisters. I had to buy a box of bandaids. Now that is a whole story in itself....

I went to a small "shop" (stall)-again-no words for the scene outside yet-. Now, how do you ask someone who speaks no English for a "bandaid" - which, of course, is one of those words that is based on a name brand, which, I am sure, does not exist here. So I pull off my shoe and show her my oozy, burst blister and try to mimic putting a bandaid on. Oh yes, she gives an understanding nod. But she obviously does not sell them - she puts her hand on my shoulder for me to come with her (an act of kindness that I have come to find to be rare out on the streets). She points across the street to what I guess is a drugstore. Damn, I have to cross the street again - the very act of which involves jumping between motorbikes. At the times I was nervous, but that was before I found out that 28,000 people die in Hanoi per year from traffic accidents (a good form of population control, one of my Vietnamese colleagues jokingly informs me). So, finally - hobbling to the drugstore - show the feet again - buy a box of 100 bandaids for $2.00 US - a crazy amount for them (the average Vietnamese makes about $2000.00 US per year) - but very reasonable to me. People usually buy individual bandaids, not the entire box. The clerks were astounded that I wanted to purchase the entire box. Not heard of. Crazy North American.

(yup, that's them; I still have the box as proof...only used when we have run out of the "real" ones; they are so gummy that they leave stickiness on your skin for days after removal...)

The pharmacist speaks English - an older woman working behind the counter does not - she asks me something, which the pharmacist translates - Where are you from? Canada. She wants to know how old you are. 32. They both laugh, as the older woman says something. Does she think I am older or younger? I ask. Oh - she says you look older. Thanks...old, and too big to buy clothes (see yesterday's post), with pussy swollen feet and sweat pouring down my back. This is a very uncomfortable place for average-sized westerners. I have seen a few miserable looking types in the old section downtown - I probably look the same."

  1. Blogger missbhavens said:

    OH, that's too much! I had similar things happen while I was travelling through Vietnam. Those ladies are very direct. Not only was I incredibly old, my feet were huge ("...your shoe..it is shoe, or boat?"), I was fat at 5'9" 125lbs, and, most horrifyingly, childless. I ended up inventing a family for myself that would rival most U.S. sitcoms just so I could bring them up in conversation withthe women who sold me my morning pho.

    Actually, I also pretended I was from Canada.

    Re: the uploaded halloween movie. It's actually pretty easy, but requires a lot of little steps. I haven't quite gotten the hang of it, and I can't figure out why my movie is so very teensy. I'll add some pertinent links on the sidebar tomorrow, but for now you can check out the tutorials on www.freevlog.org. They're in movie form and also text.

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I really appreciate it and will definitely check it out. Who knows, maybe I'll have video in the future too:)
    Looking forward to seeing more of yours.

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