Sunday, December 10, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle

It hadn't occurred to me until someone at work brought it up. Vietnam will ruin me for all other places. I obviously need to explain this in more detail, and I will try to do it without sounding all "Do I look fat in this dress "
Everything is very cheap here, as I mentioned before, and that was exciting for the first little while. Now, at the three month mark, I am beginning to get worried about this lifestyle. Absolutely anything you want is available at almost no cost. That is the kind of thing that is dangerous to get used to. I don't think I mentioned this before, but we do not cook at home. It is pointlessly messy and more expensive than eating out. This means I have been eating at restaurants for three months. I am not talking about Mickey D's and Subway here, I am talking about good restaurants. It costs me, generally, less than 5 US dollars to eat wonderful meals, containing multiple courses. Great, right? yeah, for the first little while. Now I am more like, I wish I had a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee Beefaroni, as I am dining on a Fred Flintstone sized rack of Baby back ribs, potato wedges and salad.
The question is, How does one come back from something like this? How do I return to North America and resume the 9-5 lifestyle, where eating at a nice restaurant is a special evening you do once an a while, as it will cost you 100.00 or more, if you decide to have drinks and desert. There is no tipping or tax here. So if you have a 50.00 food bill in a restaurant in Canada. You are looking at 7.50$ in tax and 7.50$ for a tip, if you do the 15%. 15 dollars on a 50 dollar bill.
Here, not so much. If we spend 20.00 US on a meal here. I assure you, we will be leaving food on the table and we will be intoxicated. And that's 20 dollars total, no tip, no tax, for both of us.
My point is, we will be here for another year, possibly longer. We were psyched by the cheapness of food in Taiwan after Canada, and Vietnam makes Taiwan look expensive. I am starting to worry about spending "too long in the Jungle"!
I heard that figure of speech a couple of months ago from a Kiwi expat who had been in SE Asia for over seven years. He, at the time, was complaining about the lack of Vietnamese girls in Hanoi that were interested in dating foreigners. This is quite the opposite from most other places in Asia. I asked him, quite simply, why he didn't just date one of the many foreign girls populating Hanoi? He looked me dead in my eyes, and spoke in a startlingly somber manner. "Oh no, Ed, I can't do that, I have been in the jungle for far too long mate." I laughed at that, at the time, but in retrospect, he meant exactly that. With Asian women, I am told, there is no effort in a relationship. There is almost always a language barrier that makes small talk and conversation almost pointless. Unlike with Western woman, who expect much more from a partner than just being there. He could no more go back to dating western girls after dating Asians than I will be able to go back to the way of life I traded in to come to Asia. It is not the girls for me, obviously, but it is everything else.
I am starting to feel like we have been in the jungle for too long, and we still have quite a way to go. I can imagine some of you reading this, shaking your heads and muttering..." I can't believe this jackass has the nerve to complain about being able to eat at nice restaurants every night!" It is the bigger picture that I am, not complaining about, but just worried about.
If Christmas came everyday, it would no longer be special. Fine dining has already reached a point with us where it is no longer special, and I am worried about the point where it will become expected, almost necessary. We simply can not live like this in North America. Not, unless we were wealthy, and I mean lotto 649 wealthy.
French, Italian, Asian, Brazilian, Greek, Mexican, Indian etc. Every evening we ask ourselves, "What are we going to eat tonight?" You wouldn't believe how many of the selections illicit the rolling of eyes. What do you get for the person who has everything? Well, I ask, What do you eat, when you can eat anything?
Welcome to the jungle baby!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen and Ed!
Hope everything is going well for you guys out there and we hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

- Vernon, Elizabeth and Elysia