“Daisy!!!!” I heard behind me as I scanned the hundreds of people returning home to meet their loved ones for the Chinese New Year. Thanh Thanh standing at no more than 5 feet tall has always had a way of making her presence known both intentionally and unintentionally at all the right times. And there she was again, at the perfect time jumping up and down one of the plastic chairs at the meeting point after someone had told her to get down. “Where’s Josh?” I asked? “Oh, I told him to go look for you at Burger King because we were late—thought it was some place you’d probably be.” LOLOL…It had only been a couple months since I’d seen one of my best friends at home, but the feeling of elation still washed over me, almost enough to wash away the sweat from the pleasant Vietnamese humidity. (I was dressed in 4 layers after coming from Beijing, one which included a down vest).
This began one of the best weeks of my life. This was my third Chinese New Years spent away from home, and though full of nausea, food poisoning, 104+fevers, it was hands down the best holiday I have ever had in my life. They say third time's a charm, and I think it's true in many ways. The first two times don't necessarily have to be failed times, but the third often holds something special you missed the first two times.
Life is about the connections we make with one another. Sometimes it's someone you'll meet once, and perhaps never again, or it could be someone who's with you the whole way, or anyone in between. We're all now in our mid 20's, playing this game called life as best as we can, and that means finding the time and balance to stay happy in all aspects. This last week was spent nurturing the relationship/friendships portion with those I have loved so dearly for the last years of my life. In particular, times like this where we had the joy of taking turns being sick (instead of all at once), we are all able to experience a bit of this kind of love.
Thanh Thanh came to spend my first new years in Taipei with my family and myself when I first left home, and this year she and her family graciously invited us to spend this year with theirs. We spent the night chugging Tigers and gambling hundreds of thousands of dong amounting to $2.50USD. All things that we were able to experience because of the warmth her family had shown us and allowed us to share with them. Language can be quite the barrier in many ways, but I like to think that the love we have for one another surpasses that. Smiling is the only universal symbol across all cultures after all.
Here are some shots from Thanh Thanh and Tia's hometown in Vietnam, and our journey through Southern Vietnam through Saigon and Mui Ne (photos in next post).