Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Okay, I must admit, I’m not too neutral or sympathetic on most issues regarding America and its relations with the rest of the world and, having recently read David Barsamian’s enlightening interviews with Noam Chomsky entitled Imperial Ambitions, my feelings on the subject were further entrenched and reinforced. The recent utterings of Bush on how he admits the Abu Ghraib tortures and abuses were a mistake, neglecting to mention the rest of genocide in Iraq, saying that "Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing." Bush at his finest.
Setbacks? Missteps? That’s a nice way of putting it. Anyways, these are just some of the things which have made me decide to rant on the issue of Americans a bit.
At the different schools I’ve been teaching at the majority of teachers come from the States. They can be classified into three general categories. In this first post I would like to describe what I call the Young Yanks: The young Americans who have come to teach to see the world, experience life and make some money while they’re at it (not unlike Christoff and myself).
The thing is, these young Yanks, well those I have met, are mostly from the big cities on the East and West Coast (LA, Ney York, San Francisco). They think they’re more than just pawns in the game, so much so that they try and show you how cool they are by nonchalantly impressing upon you how unflappable and unimpressed they are with Vietnam and the culture here. What they don’t realise is that their over-the-top apathy actually swings their whole attempt on its head and makes it clear how scared and insecure they actually are inside.
They try and impress others with this aloof attitude and throw names around and try and compare the standard of living in the States with that of Vietnam which is totally ridiculous. They drop comments like: “Man, there’s nothing close to a Starbucks in this communist hellhole” or “This places is so dirty man, the smell so is bad, you won’t find anyplace half as bad in the States”.
Their banter revolves around how many weird things they’ve eaten, how many local girls they’ve had and how easy it is to get away with murder in a communist country (“Man, just hand the cops 50 000 or a 100 000 Dong and they’ll turn a blind eye.”). They’re pretentious and have no sense of how grateful they should be to able to have such awesome choices in travelling and seeing the world. They don’t realise that they are actually intruding on someone else’s property and should show respect for the different way of life and actually try and embrace it. They think there’s only one way of doing things and that’s the American way. They treat the schools they work at like halfway houses between parties, feeling nothing for the children’s education I don’t think they’ve given an iota of thought as to how much the parents of these children actually sacrifice to have them learn English (average monthly salary = about $65) and maybe succeed and be able to afford a decent salary abroad some day and, instead, they abuse the high esteem and respect with which Vietnamese actually regard teachers (they’re a close second just behind parents in the respect category).
It sickens me sometimes and saddens me even more when I see how the Vietnamese consciously tolerate them, knowing that these arrogant fools hold, in a certain sense, the key to the future success of their proud nation. Buffoons. All of them. I like that word.
That’s enough for now, I’ll describe the other two groups some other time.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
1) They show scant respect for natural wonders.
2) Public indecency is not a problem for them.
3) In fact, most of them have no concept of the term or any skaam whatsoever!
4) And they have bad, bad habits too.
For these reasons and more, I wish to disassociate myself from the stereotypical term of "tourist" and would henceforth like to be referred to as an ex-patriate of South Africa in Vietnam.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
The PGA Tour Fantasy League is the one on which I pin my hopes for a top 3 placing. It's about halfway through the season and I'm in second place (with a few Majors still to be played). I also have a kickass team with Ernie and Rory Sabbatini being my weekly stalwarts.
This table also provides a misconstrued conception of my performance as I joined this league 3 games into the season, so I guess 9th place is not too shabby.
I just plain suck in this league. I'm 4th but there's only 7 guys playing - and come on - look who's above me: JDawg (huh? wizzit?) Banana Boy (don't wanna to know) and a certain Mr Cool (probably an 80s amateur wrestling alias).
Oh and finally! I got an email from my European Tour golf fantasy league which I'm playing in (and actually totally forgot about after I picked my players) sponsored by The Scotsman newspaper: It said that my team was in the top 10 of the competition and my name will appear in the Scotsman on Sunday paper. Just a pity I won't get to see it (Nat get me a copy please!). Okay, enough bragging and loathing for one day.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Today they had this special: Burger Ga (chicken burger) and a Pepsi for 15 000 vnd ($1). So I had it and afterwards I thought: “Mmm, a delicious soft serve ice-cream would round off that tasty burger and smooth beverage just perfectly.” So I proceeded to buy one, which was only 2 500 vnd (R1). I gave the counter-lady two 2 000 vnd notes and she gives me a 1000 note for change (Christoff and I have discussed the pros and cons of having currency of such low value in notes and are yet to find any pros).
Ok anyways that’s besides the point, so the lady is looking for a 500 vnd ($0.03) coin in the till, can’t find one, and gives me a stick of chewing gum – but not just any gum - Lotteria-branded chewing gum. It seems this sorta thing happens quite often. If only other countries would catch one we could all head back to the ‘ol 15 chickens for a sheep barter economy. Oh well, thought I’d share - good gum btw.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
There are a lot of the people selling funny fruits – this lady will cut it open for you and carve it till it looks like a lotus flower or something – it’s actually more a piece of art than lunch
Inside Ben Thanh Market – this place is like a very, very big warehouse market that has little stalls set-up in designated areas for clothes, antiques, food etc etc etc – it has nearly anything you can think of and is a haggler’s dream come true (the only problem is it’s so hot and stuffy in there you try and buy what you need and get out as fast as you can sometimes
Sugar and Spice and all things nice (including dried fish and squid)
One of hundreds of alleys in the market
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The woman-who-lights-the-incense’s reflection in a mirror
On the roof of the temple – contrasting old and new
A small shrine inside the temple grounds
Inside the Hindu Temple in Thon Tan Thiep Street – this is one of the smaller, less-touristy temples and when we visited there was hardly no-one else which was a bit eerie
One of million billboards and posters advertising the anniversary of the liberation of Vietnam on the 30 April (which is cool because Liberation Day’s obviously a public holiday and the next day is Labour Day: what does that mean? Long weekend!)
Not only do the locals just park off anywhere, they can also carry pretty much anything below 3 tons (or more depending on their bike’s cc) on their “scoo-tays” – this was just one of three blocks this guy was transporting. For those interested in this, check out renowned photographer Hans Kemp’s Bikes of Burden which is a photojournal on the crazy things these guys carry
A typical parking lot
Chris-toff Jackson-ay (Hee-Hee!): "I love you all!"
A typical little street
At lunchtime the Vietnamese just park off anywhere and chow down
Pho Ba (Pho=Vietnamese noodle soup & Ba=Beef): Rice noodles, coriander, onions, limes, bean sprouts, basil, chilli, leeks and a few other stuff. This is their staple diet - breakfast, lunch and supper - and really fresh and tasty (sorry Anke, my food styling is nou nie juis op jou senior-tipe vlak nie!)
Two dudes just parking off next to the road having some tea
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office with a big painting of "the man" at the back.
A cyclo driver - these guys are everywhere and want to take you everywhere - the only thing is I haven't seen any locals use them so do they know something we don't know?
Another typical little street