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Mornings in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Savoring the endless hustle

[This piece won Honorable Mention in The Diversity Story Cultural Writing Competition - High School]


BY JANE DOAN



The red sun is rising from the East. It is red and full of energy, the energy from a

young, energetic country. From the window, I can hear the sound of the big trucks

hopping on the roads. The birds start to sing while the dogs in the neighborhood are

baying to their friends.


It may be a little bit of a surprise that it is now 3 in the morning. And if you are

asking why I am not going to bed, well, all I can say is that Vietnam is a sleepless

country. It often hustles and bustles. The streets are packed with people, vehicles, and

noise almost all the time. In Vietnam, the fun will never stop.


Living in Ho Chi Minh city for my entire life, 17 years, I never miss any morning

there. I love the contrast between the calm atmosphere on the sidewalk and the dynamite

of roaring streets. You can never understand the beauty of it unless you are actually there.


Days in the city start very early, from 3 or 4 in the morning. The Pho experts need

to wake up in advance to make the most flavored soup, which will be served to the

customers in the next couple of hours. The traffic is also starting to be busy because the

fresh ingredients will be delivered to the local markets and then to the consumers.

Definitely, you cannot feel the energy at this time. But it is coming. The city's sleeping

soul is waking up slowly by the burning heat from the Pho restaurants and from the sun.


At 5 in the morning, if you walk through the sidewalks near the neighborhood

parks, you will see the elderly practicing exercises and talking to others. People in their

60s prefer jogging, stretching, or Tai Chi Chuan, a Chinese traditional martial art.

Whenever I see people practicing Tai Chi Huan, I always stop and watch them. I love the

beauty of Chinese martial art. Maybe it is because I am a nostalgic person. But isn't it amazing seeing the elderly dancing with a long, thin Tai Chi sword or a big Tai Chi fan? I

always want to try it, but it is definitely not what an ordinary young Vietnamese will do.

Anyway, I am ways too green to practice this type of sophisticated art.


Moving on, later at 6 in the morning, when the 60s people begin leaving the park,

people in their 40s will come to do aerobics. Right, it is similar to the videos that you see

on Tik Tok. People will join together, play music out loud and do aerobics.

They love to play bolero songs while warming up, and they will never lower the music.

The louder the sound is, the harder they dance. Also, the roads are now full of

motorbikes, the most common vehicles in Vietnam. And every single alley in the city will

be boisterous with the noise from the vehicles, mixing with the old bolero songs. It may

sound annoying, but no one really cares about it. Instead, we love it. The classic songs

and the "ding ding" sound from the flying motorbikes on the streets make our day. And

they are the signatures of any Vietnamese metropolitans.


But those are not the best thing. Here it comes. From the alleys, the smell of the

coffee beans will travel around the streets, making the city feel like heaven. I personally

enjoy drinking coffee in the morning, not only because it wakes me up but also because it

is the country's spirit. Have you ever tried Vietnamese coffee? If you have not, I highly

recommend you trying it. Trust me! You will not regret it. Vietnamese coffee is different

from other caffeine products. It is unique, strong, and fragrant. Vietnamese people don't

drink coffee with cream; instead, they drink it with condensed milk, eggs, or coconut

milk. Usually, 50% of the cup is coffee liquid, and the rest will be ice cubes. When the ice

melts, the water will combine the coffee flavor with the sweetness from condensed milk,

creating a delicious drink that will keep you awake the entire day. Coffee shops are open

everywhere in the country. They are the place where adults enjoy their peaceful morning, reading the newspaper or talking to their neighbors. My father, a real coffee fanatic,

spends two hours every morning nibbling his cup of coffee while discussing life with his

squad. My mother hates how my father wastes his time drinking coffee. But I love it. I

love hearing stories from the male senior about life and about how strict their wife is.

Haha.


After breakfast, it is time to go to school. Students will hop on their parent's

motorbikes and disappear in the crazy-busy streets. In front of the school, the students

will assemble and talk about their homework. It is easy to find the students in the bubble

tea shop in front of the school, copying their friend's homework and chatting to others.

Obviously, academic pressure in Vietnam is as heavy as in other Asian countries. But

Vietnamese students always find a way to reduce their depression. That is why you will

always see them running in the hall, yelling at each other. They are releasing the stress

through physical activities. And I love high school in Vietnam; I have many good

memories there. I still remember the moment my buddies and I slept in the class, ate on

the sly, and got caught by the teacher. And yes, it is naughty. But all high school students

in Vietnam do that at least once in their life. Those memories make us us. And that is the

dynamite of young people, the energy of youth.


So, it is pretty much my experience. I hope that after reading this article, you can

have a good sense of how a morning in Ho Chi Minh City occurs. And I hope that you

can know something more about my country, besides the Vietnamese war. Finally, my

experience, of course, may be different from others. But I can guarantee that these are the

most unique, outstanding features of a morning in Ho Chi Minh City.

Sharing culturally diverse stories to educate, inspire, and empower others.

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