I awaken to the sound of dying geese.
Not a pleasant sound under any circumstances.
And yet the sound brings an ironic smile to my face.
How different this place is from my home.
7000 miles from home, I couldn’t be much further from the place where I was born, the place where I lived my life.
I travelled halfway around the world from Canada to Vietnam.
And now I find myself waking to rooster’s crow, and goose’s demise.
But the distance isn’t just measure in miles, it’s measured in all the ways it differs.
The big things and the little things.
From the language, and the architecture, to the prevalence of scooters, and the different flavours of potato chips.
It’s the climate, and the economy.
It’s the habits of the people, and the chickens wandering down the street.
It’s the fact that our neighbours slaughter geese in the alley behind our home, the alley onto which my bedroom window faces.
It’s that while the building next to us is made from scrap pieces of corrugated metal, the house across the street is four stories tall with glass balconies facing on the street.
It’s the strange mixes of developed and developing.
The man in a suit sitting on a tiny plastic chair eating chicken’s feet from a street vendor.
It’s the cuisine.
It’s the varieties of fruit I’ve never seen (or tasted) before.
It’s the fact that a living room doubles as garage.
It’s that a home is often combined with;
a beauty salon, a motorcycle repair shop, a hardware store, a liquor store, a restaurant, etc.
(or any combination these).
It’s the way people stop and stare as we walk down the street.
The way children yell “hello” to us as we pass, and giggle when we say “hello” in return
They way people invite us to join them for beers and food on the sidewalk when they see us coming.
It’s the sight of two soldiers riding tandem on a motorbike, pulling up next to two monks doing the same.
It’s the family of four riding on a single motorcycle.
What an interesting mix of modernity and tradition.
And yet, despite all those differences, somethings remain the same.
We’re all people after all.
Language and culture doesn’t change those core things we value.