Saturday, July 31, 2004

It was a funny feeling. I came out of the airport which serves Ho Chi Minh City, negotiated a taxi ride to the travellers area Pham Ngu Lao, and rode through the bustling streets of south Vietnam with relative joy in my heart. Why?

I had come from Sydney, a clean, accesable, English-speaking western city, with countless more services and western pleasures than anywhere in Vietnam. In HCMC I would face heat, humidity, thunderstorms, countless hawkers approaching me in an attempt to flog books, lighters, hammoks, chewing gum, moto rides etc etc etc, language difficulties, various biting insects, dirty streets and so on. Yet I felt good here because unlike Sydney, here I was a big player. In Australia one is a "backpacker", lugging a big bag around in order to live in a dormitory and carefully save money. Here, I am a traveller. I live in hotel rooms and I carry a huge wad of notes around with me and I am relatively wealthy. "Relatively" is the important word here but nevertheless, to the people who live here, I am a rich man.

Which means virtually the entire city is within my financial and cultural grasp - restaraunts, shops and, in fact, transportation anywhere around Vietnam. Here I feel more liberated to do what I want than in Australia where financial constraints, business districts, and a western class system exclude activities from me as long as I have insufficient funds. Let me explain more clearly: in parts of urban Australia I would walk up quiet clean streets which consisted of buildings I could never enter. This is no different from any other western cities, however in this part of the world, as a westerner, all doors are open - even the most exclusive restaraunts and hotels.

Not Sydney.

Meanwhile I can sup a beer in the afternoon without worrying what effect such an adventure might have on my bank balance...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Genial dispatch and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.