Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Afternoon light...Saigon
I was recently asked what I will miss about living in Vietnam. It seems a strange question because our time here has yet come to an end, but at the same time, this is not our forever home and it will end in the not to distant future.

When does a country become a home?
We have lived in Saigon for nearly three years. I always feel that once you pass the two year mark in a location it becomes dangerously like home...the kind of home you will have to pry yourself away from. We spent over ten years in Sydney, five years in Auckland, two and a half years in England and of all the moves, England was the easiest. I loved what London had to offer but all the friendships had expat roots and moving was just part of the expat story. I think leaving Saigon will be easier this time because we are empty nesters and do not have to worry about the challenges of moving children and like London, our lives are woven into the same expat story. Yet...there is something about Saigon that will be hard to leave..

A curse and a blessing...
There are times when I could blow the house down with some of the frustrations of living in Vietnam. Things run a bit slower, it takes ten people to deal with a problem that does not get solved, the traffic and noise can put me over the edge at times and you do not want to get me started about the speed of the internet service when things go awry in the deep blue sea. Yet....there is a charm about Vietnam that is captivating and once it has you in it's spell...you can't help but fall in love.

I love that adventure is waiting outside my doorstep.

I love that I can travel through time, as if walking through a montage of vintage films, from street corner to street corner. It is every photographers dream, professional or amateur, to have life bursting forth around them as they travel with a camera. Saigon has it in spades.

I  love Vietnamese food...we eat it nearly every night, I am certain I will miss the flavours of Vietnam.

I will miss our Vietnamese garden and all the delicious Vietnamese herbs we pick for meals...mint, basil, lemongrass, kaffir lime, betel leaves, gourds, Asian greens...and our cherry tomatoes.

I love that people are so warm and friendly... smiles radiate goodwill and happiness at every turn. Even the few grumpy Vietnamese have a way about them.

I curse the traffic but I love the rhythm and the excitement. Give me a road to cross and I will take the challenge.

I love the industriousness of the Vietnamese, give them a problem and they will find a solution. It is a country of waste not want not. Our garden hoses are proof of that. We have more patches than I can count and every time I suggest we buy new ones...the tape comes out. "No need, can fix" is the reply.

I love the flora and fauna of Vietnam...I love my lotus flower garden and our flowing specimens of orchids. While I am not as fond of snakes as the Vietnamese are, I love the lizards that come calling and the birds that flit between the trees.

I love our mango trees...even though we have yet to see more than one lone mango. I love our crazy mango colored house...and the honeysuckle that tucks and tips it's way through every curve of our veranda.

It is an ongoing list, one that I am happy to add to as the days and months go by.

It's a process....
This thought process came about as I read through some of my early posts, the ones where I hashed out the whole idea of moving from England to Vietnam. I recently had a few people write to me about their impending move to Vietnam. They are where I was three years ago...wondering and hoping that life in Vietnam will be ok. I respond to them with many of the things listed above...because it is something I would have liked to know at the same point in time. To know that life would be ok with the next move...it makes the packing and planing just a little bit easier.

I am going to leave these thoughts with wise words by Mark Twain...

"Twenty years from now you will be more 
disappointed by the things 
that you didn't do than the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines. 
Sail away from the safe harbour. 
Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover. "
by Mark Twain

I love Mark Twain...

Beep Beep from Saigon

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  1. "Catch the tradewinds in your sails" - what a lovely thought. We need to do more of that, and not stay so anchored in our safe slips.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your nearly three years in Vietnam. They seem to have flown by!

  2. We will be in Vietnam and Cambodia next week, sadly not HCMC but Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Siem Reap. I have througly enjoyed reading your posts of your time and travels here, most helpful. I just hope that I can 'capture' the soul of these places, just like you do at expat diaries. Kathy

  3. Aah, Jeanne.. your words bring a smile to my face.. instantly! You certainly have a great gift for them.. thanks for sharing ' what you'll miss'.. I know you'll also miss the antique shopping, the tailors, the quick trips to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar.. your cook.. your gardener.. your chauffeur.. and I'll miss your posts from Vn.. the country that brought us together.. event though we've never met (yet).. hugs to you dear friend x j