Saturday, January 8, 2011
So Long Seoul. Hello Hanoi.
My time in South Korea has come to an end, and I now find myself in the beautiful and bustling city of Hanoi, Vietnam. So far, I love it here. My first impressions are:
The city is so rich with color that, after gray-toned Korea, my eyes are nearly burning. In Korea, the buildings are mostly gray faux-marble, box-shaped structures with little variety in shape or height. In Vietnam, the building are either tall, skinny buildings of various heights with random shapes jutting out of them, or they are huge and fanciful Parisian estates. They come on all colors of the rainbow, the most popular being a bright mustard color.
As an American, I'll smile at anyone and anything even when I'm not happy. Koreans don't smile as generally and opening as I'm used to. This isn't necessarily a bad trait of Korean culture. It's simply different and slightly unnerving to constantly see people that look sad or angry (even when they are not). So, I'm thrilled to see smiling faces in Vietnam. The Vietnamese seem to be a genuinely happy and amiable people.
Another bonus is that Vietnam has a performing and visual arts community--something that was lacking in the small town of Chungju, South Korea. I can attend traditional or modern performances at many venues or view paintings displayed by sidewalk vendors just by taking a short walk out my front door.
Finally, the Vietnamese alphabet is similar to the English alphabet, so it is much more intuitive for me than Hangul (the Korean alphabet). I did learn to read Hangul, but at a slow kindergarten-like pace. My young students got a good laugh every time I had to read their Korean names aloud. With any luck, I'll pick up some basic Vietnamese rather quickly.
You can still follow the last of my Korean adventures at http://www.chungjuicy.blogspot.com/. I have a few more sightseeing posts that I want to share including some pictures of gorgeous Korean palaces.
I would really LOVE for you to sign up to "follow" this blog. I had 16 followers and over 1000 hits on ChungJuicy and hope to beat those statistics on VietNaomi. As always, I love reading your comments and encourage any suggestions about content.