Saturday, August 28, 2010
It would be unfair of me to say that Expats living in Saigon or Hanoi Don't know Vietnam. It would be untruthful. Those cities are embodiments of certain aspects of Vietnamese culture just like New York and LA are of American culture. However, for an expat living in Saigon or Hanoi to say they know the rest of the country and all its cultural intricacies because they know those cities, well, it is laughable. They know one city. Every province and each city operates differently with its own set of rules and distinct culture. Likewise, I can claim to know Phan Thiet, I can claim to know Binh Thuan Province (better than most locals I might add), and I can even claim to know a lot about Central Vietnam... but can I claim that by knowing these places I then truly understand all of Vietnam? Absolutely not. Nobody can--not even the people born here, whole live their entire lives in Vietnam and are buried in its soils. The totality of Vietnam is unknowable for one person in their lifetime. So, you Saigon & Hanoi know-it-all city-slicker expats, get off your high horse and go learn some more (or something) about Vietnam, and I'll do likewise.