JA K A RTA I N T E R N AT I O N A L S C H O O L P RO J E C T W E E K
“Vietnam Ho Chi Minh! Mounamh! Mounamh! “ - Dove
This october Jakarta International School, the second largest school in asia, takes a tour downtown and on the coast lines of Vietnam
THE REAL DEFINITION OF VIETNAM
How would you de)ine Vietnam?
War? Rank food? Third world country? I don’t accuse you these were the same de)initions I furnished before I actually read Vietnam’s pages. I sat there wondering with my pre-‐judgmental thoughts about Vietnam as we drifted across the sky on the SQ 956. I waved goodbye as we parted from the Changi airport at which I assumed would be heaps different than Vietnam’s own, imagining the terrible condition in different aspects of the country. Upon arrival I braced myself for a week of discomfort and inconvenience, but surprisingly it did not come as we walked across the suitable carpet )loors of Tan Son Nhat international airport. Heading towards the baggage claim I began to convince myself that the
appearance of the terminal had only been a minor drawback, that Vietnam was a neglected country with a poor economy, as I skeptically observed the structure and class of the building. Retrieving our baggage had been no hassle, and neither had immigration, other than the usual painstaking long line of individuals wanting to get their )irst. We walked away from Tam Son Nhat airport with a more positive outlook of Vietnam but had not been entirely convinced and predicted the next few chapters of this episode wouldn’t be as convenient, but Vietnam wouldn’t give up on their side of the argument and when we reached downtown I couldn’t provide a relevant rebuttal. Motors over)lowed the streets churning together and dispersing in different directions of the driveway as
“When in the streets of Vietnam, always keep moving forward”-Russell Wiemers
pedestrians helplessly tried to cross the streets, only to be stopped by a barrier of wheels and noise. Ho Chi Minh city contained little to no slums countering, what I had pictured it to be. Walking to the simple yet elegant hotel, I turned my head a full 180-‐degree to take in reality and differentiating what I heard about Vietnam and what was in front of me. The Mekong Delta is de)initely different than Ho Chi Minh but not what I had in mind, either. Instead of the polluted streets I thought I would come across, the Mekong Delta is a place home to Mother Nature and natural aesthetics. It is also home to about 1,000 newly discovered species and is )illed with greenery and a sea of canoes. I was mesmerized by the difference between my Vietnam and the true Vietnam. Whether it’s toward a person, a country, or an object, Vietnam made me think twice about other pre-‐ judgments I would make later. Perhaps it was bad luck that had brought us to our very )irst meal in Vietnam and made us think so negatively about Vietnam’s cuisine. I continued the trip with a mindset that Vietnamese food taste bad. Visiting the war remnants museum before hand, we decided to go out for dinner and I had already imagined staring at my platter and constantly asking the same question, “What is this?”. Surprisingly not once did ponder upon what was set out on the table. It was not for reasons that I recognized the meal but because it was the )irst pleasant meal I had in Vietnam, The Barbeque Garden, located in 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghua in district 1 of Ho Chi Minh city, is a restaurant )illed with lights and a great ambience to The beautiful greenery that decorates enjoy a self-‐service grilled meal on hot stone plate. Over the expedition we consumed a good amount of the Mekong Delta )ish but accompanying it was a local delicacy in Vietnam. This was known as the rice ball, and it was rice papers )illed with vegetables, )ish, and other contents. Although I grew a disliking to it, I noticed our guardian, Mr. White, seemed to enjoy it very much and I sat there watching him consuming them like an engine programmed to clean up the plate after plate of rice balls. Like the stormy weather, it struck me that not everyone agreed on my opinion that Vietnamese food was horrible. Fortunately, I did )ind myself
compelled to a particular Vietnamese food that sparked interest in my appetite. PHO 2000, originally founded in Vietnam, is a restaurant located near the market place that pleased my taste buds with its mixture of different ingredients. One bowl of regular size noodles will cost you no more than 2 dollars and if you’re like me, it’s a price certainly worth paying. Vietnamese food is undoubtedly different but I learned that my statement “all Vietnamese food is terrible” was an exaggeration and that Vietnamese food and the food in Vietnam are two different things. The Vietnam War in 1975 or the war in Vietnam, as the tour guide would say it, are one of the factors that in)luenced my negative hypothesis on Vietnam. I assumed the impact of the war would be obvious and would greatly affect the lifestyle of the Vietnamese citizens, just the way someone’s past can affect them individually. Other factors such as the poor economy and a large number of opinions on its food led me to thinking pessimistically about Vietnam. However, Beef Nooodle Soup in PHO 2000 my opinion was proven false and irrelevant taking a glance at Ho Chi Minh City. This journey has given me a new perspective about Vietnam and a new way to look at other countries. So now when I ask my self how I would de)ine Vietnam, I would say, “I shouldn’t de)ine Vietnam, in fact I should list the things Vietnam de)ines and so far it has given de)inition to unbiased, adventure, and a whole new experience”
Greetings from Vietnam!
Published on Dec 2, 2010