I guess it would be fair to say that I’ve become somewhat desensitized to the quirks of Asian life after spending five months in Saigon.
Seven rats scattering away from my door? Well that’s fewer than the night before.
Man balancing a refrigerator on the back of his motorbike? I’ve seen better.
Mothers lining the street picking the lice out of their daughters hair early in the morning? How about the man with no limbs who’s lying in the middle of the street in front of them.
I quickly learned while showing my family my new “home” how significantly accustomed I am to the details of Saigon’s daily life. The things I originally found truly remarkable, like crossing the street, are no more than a daily routine. While this city never ceases to spin me into a wondrous stupor, I discovered that I am more adjusted than I ever thought possible.
However, some things still make me stop dead in my tracks.
While I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia with my mother and sister, we visited a floating village situated on this lake about a n hour away. The sights and the statistics shocked me to my core. A 46% literacy rate, 12% of children die before they reach age 5 and the average lifespan is only 54 years. Kids wrapped pythons around their bodies, no sense of unease or fear written on their faces. A father’s deep-set eyes, lacking any notion of emotion stared at me from his boat, cigarette propped out the side of his mouth. A lone chicken floats in a cage awaiting his fate. A child’s plea for money.
These images remind me that, regardless of my comfort in Saigon, I’m still an stranger to the rest of South East Asia.