I’m back in Hanoi, for my last week in Vietnam! How has time flown so quickly already? This past weekend I visited a town called Tam Dao, which is located very high up a mountain (to the point where it looks like you’re in the sky) and is heavily influenced by French and European culture. It has a beautiful waterfall on the side of the mountain, and we were able to hike there and then enjoy fresh coconuts after!
It was quite funny though, because as soon as we arrived in Tam Dao, me and my group of 10 Americans were swarmed by Vietnamese people asking to take pictures with us. This has been happening since we first arrived in Vietnam, but nowhere near as intense as in Tam Dao. We were walking tourist attractions, and we had to stop every two or three minutes for a photo. It felt incredibly strange, but I understand that it’s not as common to see foreigners in Vietnam as it is in the United States.
Later this week, I was able to visit a nursing home in Hanoi for my research. Before going, I had the perception that people in nursing homes wouldn’t want to be there, because it is traditional in Vietnam for children to take care of their parents as they age. However, it seems that the perception towards nursing homes is changing in the large cities in Vietnam. Elderly people understand that in order for their children to take care of them, they would have to quit their jobs. Additionally, some children feel as though their parents—especially those with chronic illnesses or medical conditions—would receive significantly better care in a professional nursing home than they could provide. In that way, the culturally-required practice of reciprocity (especially familial reciprocity) is still able to be maintained.
This week is pretty emotional, because I have loved Vietnam and don’t feel quite ready to leave! I haven’t had a bad or boring day here and have enjoyed all of my adventures. At the same time, though, I’m getting so excited to head to my next adventure in South Africa!