I'm travelling Vietnam with my Mum, our neighbour and her 1.5 year old son. I've been to Vietnam a few times before with just Mum or with my Aunt also and I always felt bored/lonely cos all they wanted to do was go to temples and go to bed by 9. So I was pretty stoked to go with this baby who I see everyday and love.
However, I didn't realise what travelling with a baby meant until we got to Sydney airport where I basically took on the role of babysitter, father and tour guide for those three. I got frustrated at how my mum would wait for me to carry all 3 bags of luggage even though she had both hands free and my neighbour had one - the baby was in her other arm. I had to ask around for locations of gates and bathrooms and when I headed in the right direction Mum would always sheepishly say "that's not the right direction" and it would frustrate the hell out of me. My mum and my neighbour both speak fluent Vietnamese and yet when we're on Vietnam airlines and they have questions or requests for water or baby food, they force me to do it. I responded with "you speak better viet than I do". So yeah, I was pretty damn frustrated on the first day of the trip.
The next few days we spent walking around Saigon, going to markets and buying odds and ends. I met up with my cousin for dinner and had never been so relieved to be able to speak English to someone who could hold a conversation with me. Then we had to board another plane to go to my neighbours home town - her "Nha Que" in viet. I was snappy again because everything I did was met with contradictory remarks that were just wrong and dumb. We got to Nha Trang airport and were met with my neighbours whole family - her mum, her grandma, her sisters, and nephew and niece. I saw this before, in Greece, while Ems and I were waiting for Bobs. All the family members were anxiously awaiting someone to come off the plane and they were all greeted with hugs and kisses. I thought it was a European thing, but it happened again today, except without the kisses. Only hugs. Asians don't display that kind of affection publicly, haha.
We all hopped in a van and drove 1 h from Nha Trang to Phan Rang, Nha Que of my neighbour and her son. I was sitting in the van just listening to the conversations and everyone was so happy their older sister (my neighbour) had come home with her son for the first time. In that the car I realised everyone fell into the typical archetypal role - there was the know it all aunty, the grandpa that always rambled on to fill the silence but no one really listened to, the little princess niece who was always teased and the really old grandma that almost speaks in tongues and occasionally comes up to you and tells you to eat or apologises for eating vegetarian so close to the new year.
It was a really nice change of pace from the busy Saigon. We got to my neighbours house and they gave us the tour. I peered through the coconut trees and watched the sunset over the mountains and thought of my family and friends at home who also saw the same sun today. We had fresh coconut which was all kinds of refreshing, it was mildly sweet and even had a slight fizz to it. They invited us to stay for dinner which was chicken congee which was made from the house chicken. The meat is a lot chewier than the chicken at home, but has a nice flavour to it. The congee had innards in it and I ate a lung and something round. For a good 5 minutes I was certain I had eaten chicken's testicles. To confirm my curiosity, I asked if the chicken was a male or female. "Female" they all answered - the males are saved for the cock fights they have on the new year. I asked if I could go and watch - as much as I despise animal racing/ sports, my dad had asked me to video a rooster fight or cricket fight, haha. Saying this out loud to them made me miss him and home again.
So this city is taking up the bulk of this trip. It's a small beach town so I'm hoping there will be heaps of days where I can just lay on the beach and do nothing.