Thursday, August 17, 2006

Welcome back

This post from the Pho from Home blog reminded me of what I thought while cruising about on a small chartered boat in Ha Long Bay. The title of this post is a sign-off often used by a Vietnamese poster on an ex-pat forum I read today - he was happily telling Viet Kieu folks 'welcome back' to Viet-Nam and their home(land).

So, back to me - sitting in the sun, nursing a Halida, quietly admiring the bay with VA while the boat puttered back to the dock, I was just struck by it all. Wow, this place is beautiful; wow, this is my homeland. This is where I'm from. Nevermind the fact that, like other overseas Vietnamese, I'm a southerner. I live in Virginia right now, so I'm southerner by U.S. standards too!

Ah, I dunno, it's hard to describe how I felt. It's sorta like how I felt when I stepped back onto my college campus, after over a decade away. Your heart lightens and you feel good, at home, and warm memories wash back in. You remember your friends and good times.

It's similar, except that there aren't those memories to involuntarily recall, and yet, regardless, you feel grounded and part of it all. It was beautiful, I never knew it before, and it was home.

The picture above is from the balcony of a room in Saigontourist Ha Long Hotel, a pretty nice place to stay if you're in the area. The bridge being awaken by the rising sun is the Bai Chay bridge, nearing completion. It's the longest bridge of its type - the type being a pre-stressed concrete span with a single, central plane of cables, if you're into such things; you can learn more here.

No comments: