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23 July 2018, I sat on seat 17H and landed in bay 17 of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh. Just a 22-year-old girl, with my most fantastic father by my side, I embraced all emotions of fear, nervousness, excitement and most importantly, trust. My journey of being an English teacher has been a rollercoaster! Every few minutes, I looked into the sky and said THANK YOU. Here are the few striking ones:
- The granny at my apartment who always smiles so sincerely from her heart. This reminds me so much of the grandmothers I’ve met back home.
- My banh-mi lady who starts my Saturday/Sunday. Anthony Bourdain even called a banh mi a “symphony in a sandwich” and honestly, I can relate. On my last day, she wasn’t there and I never got to say goodbye.
- The grab drivers for being patient and getting me home safe every time, even though we never spoke the same language. Your extra trips only gave me more “Saigon Darshan”. Darshan- meaning “blessing”. So, I (eventually) felt blessed taking those detours.
- The workers in the building who just smile. No communication. Just simply sharing their positivity! It’s been great having an eight-month relationship that was made up of just smiling and waving.
- Free drinks at all the bars around the city. Ladies night was where it was at. Carefree nights with old and new friends every week. Busting it out to songs from the early 2000s is definitely one of my fondest memories.
- The local Vietnamese community who are so welcoming and have incredible hospitality ensured that on some level, we always felt at home.
- The expats from around the globe with the most beautiful stories to tell. Everytime we shared a conversation, it felt like a mini trip to your country. Keep reppin’.
- The climate. One never really knows. Will you drip (not in finesse) at 2 am because it’s 30 degrees plus humidity? Or, will you dress up for a nice lunch out, forgetting your raincoat and end up being blessed by the rains down in Africa. Overall, I can’t help but thank you for 300 days of guaranteed heat.
- My kids- your enthusiasm (or even sometimes lack thereof), your zest, your progress and your doodles of love. One biscuit, one colored in unicorn, given to me with so much love. I will forever say thank you for never seizing to bring a smile to my face.
- My fellow colleagues/ friends. Coming from vastly different backgrounds and meeting even briefly, for a few minutes or weekly meetups, they all brought me the greatest moment of joy. Thank you
Exactly 300 days later, on 20 May 2019, I had to say goodbye to the country. There’s so much more to be grateful for, that I’ve left out in this ode. I left Viet Nam on a very happy note, all to pursue my dreams of working on Impact17. I leave you with a quote by my favorite travel writer, Pico Iyer, “it’s not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them.”
Yvonne Iyer, Arran Ganesh and 8 others 11 Comments Like Comment Share