After 8 months here I finally found some Vietnamese friends who have taken me on as their ‘foreign friend project’. Meaning – they are helping me to see and experience the Vietnamese culture from a local perspective. It’s easy to experience the touristy side of Saigon, however I have found it hard to really integrate into the daily life here. I’ve desperately wanted to integrate in and talk to the locals, eat crazy street food, understand some of the cultural oddities that I encounter every day; but that’s hard to do when you don’t know the language. You don’t need to know Vietnamese to be able to simply get around, but you do need to know it to have and understand real day to day cultural experiences.
That’s where my friends Lee and Tuyet come in. By chance I met them at a coffee café. There was a power cut in my neighborhood and it forced me out to a coffee shop. Lee, an American Vietnam Vet, and Tuyet, his wife from Dalat Vietnam are a lovely couple; I can’t stress this enough. Tuyet lost her sight when she was 7 years old. That alone fascinated me as I find Saigon a terribly difficult city to navigate with sight – I can’t imagine how she does it!
Ever since the day we met and exchanged pleasantries and phone numbers, they’ve been on a mission to show me the amazing food of Vietnam. They started this adventure by taking me to a local market and showing me how to cook up a Vietnamese seafood feast. They also introduced me to durian – the king of fruits.
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