Courtney. September 18 @ 16:43
On Thursday Kaberly and I had a meeting with our boss at Binh Ming English Center. We got of of the meeting at 9AM and had an hour to kill before Walker would be able to meet us in the Old Quarter to do the other four interviews that we had lined up. So we took a little walk down Scrap Metal Alley - just 10 kilometers past CD alley, to the left of Screw Driver Alley.
We felt like a******s waking down one of the poorer neighborhoods in Hanoi with our camera equipment, but they didn't seem to mind. As we rounded Light Bulb corner, we had a group of Vietnamese people (pictured) wave us down via gestures and words - none in English. They were so enthusiastic that we just had to accept their invitation, whatever it may be.
We walked over to their corner spot and were greeted with utmost enthusiasm, excitement, sewage water tea, and cigarettes. We try never to decline offers, but cigarettes is my only exception.
It began as a group of five: three men and two women. They asked us the usual: "Where you from?" "What you are doing here?" They spoke very little English and we do not speak Vietnamese, so I got out my LP Vietnamese translation book out and we communicated using that, as well. We would point to a phrase, butcher in Vietnamese, they would laugh, say it correctly in Vietnamese, and then correctly in English. They asked us if we were journalists, the younger guy asked my boobs if I lived in Hanoi or was on holiday, and we shot the s*** for about 15 minutes. They were living in poverty I have yet to see in the states, but their hospitality was so intense it gave us chills. They continued offering to us everything that they had in their possession, including the infamous Touck Lao. It was 9AM, so we made another exception to our non-decline policy.
When Old Man found the section of the book for 'simple greetings' he asked how old we were. I told them I was 25, and Kaberly told them she was 24 - she forgot that she is 25.
Went around and asked "bow nyoo" to our new entourage, which was now about 10 people, and a few of them were over the age of 50. After we decided it was time, I faked a phone call to Danielle on my iPod, making sure to drop some "YES. I come RIGHT NOW" comments, so to make sure we didn't seem rude. We said goodbye to our new friends and promised them we would return.
After we left Kaberly and I did some (pretty simple) math and realized that some of those people back there were probably sitting in Hanoi, quite possibly on that same corner, watching our country drop napom on them for 9 years. But they do not hold a grudge. Obviously, they know that Kaberly and I did not personally drop any of those bombs, but I am still humbled everyday when the Vietnamese people approach us, wanting to know about our country and our culture - "Amer-E-ca."