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|Essays · Travelogs · Poetry · Comedy · Art · Digifilm||spring 2007|
Vietnam: Final Random Images
13 April 1996,
13-4-96, Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCMC
A few random images that escaped documentation:
* An emaciated woman lying on a wooden, wheeled cart on the side of the road. A victim of AIDS or some other muscle-wasting disease, she's accompanied by a couple of poor, dirty kids who I assume are her children. They pull her along via the cart's handle when it's necessary to move her.
* An old, white-haired Westerner leaving the Tex-Mex bar at closing time with a young Vietnamese woman.
* Often I saw this -- especially in Hanoi -- friends riding in pairs on bicycle or one on bicycle, one on motorcycle. One hand firmly holding onto the other friend's shoulder keeps them in tandem.
* Lots of scenes of young (and even not so young) men walking arm in arm or somehow else healthfully, nonsexually touching.
* I saw at least three young men with large suction-cup impressions all over their shirtless torsos -- evidence of their having been treated via traditional Vietnamese medicine.
* Foreigners spouting off in loud voices about how "totalitarianism is probably best for a country as big as China," or how "many foreigners come here and see Hanoi and think 'how wonderful Communism is', but what they don't realize is...."
* The horrible arrogance of [some of] the Viet Kieu. I thought Tuan Anh was exaggerating about this until I witnessed this behavior for myself.
* Young men walking around clacking metal tools together, as if broadcasting availability of some secret, coded service.
* Wide-open, completely unabashed violation of copyrights. I saw one shop selling dozens of obviously dubbed cassette tapes of popular music. The labels were hand-written. They didn't even bother to make them look like the original. They even were making more dubs with a portable tape player right there on the counter! I wanted to take a picture to document this but didn't want to offend.
* Vietnamese women wearing pretty, long Vietnamese dresses, French-looking ladies' chapeaux, and elbow-length dress gloves to prevent tanning -- and riding motorcycles. Light skin is considered beautiful. So you'll also see even peasant women working in the rice fields with most of their face wrapped in cloth.
* Metal bicycle-pump-looking machines on street corners, emitting a small, wavering flame (free-lance flat-fixers?), and finally,
* The old, rusted airforce hangars and unmistakable military bunkers on the tarmac at Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon. My brother must've seen this same sight when he arrived in Vietnam under very different circumstances 25 years ago.
David SaiaDavid Saia traveled extensively in Southeast Asia in 1995-96. These travelogs were originally sent out via email to a select group of friends and acquaintances. The collected travelogs, now in manuscript form, are awaiting print publication.