Another year! You survived one more rotation of the earth! And you’re still in one piece! Today is a great one to celebrate regardless of the condition of your bank account, love life or job – you are still alive! Amazing, isn’t it! Yayyy!
I know you are feeling okay because you’re actually able to read this. If you are still hung over from New Year’s Eve, sleeping it off or passed out in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, clearly you have no idea what I’m writing about. Eggs, bacon and one Bloody Mary, please! I wonder what do vegans use for a hang-over cure?
So what’s in store for 2019? Well, for expats, more visa runs. For the Viet Kieu, more haggling over new hotel construction contracts and for the locals, time to start a new business! Probably a shop selling the same thing as the other fifty shops in the same street. At least Vietnamese are optimists!
Depends on how you want to look at it… are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you read a lot of fake news? Is your life half-full or half-empty?
Many pundits are already comparing 2019 to other bad years such as 1929 (start of the great depression), 1939 (start of World War II) and 1989 (start of rap music). On the other hand, there was 1949 (the birth of color TV), 1959 (Barbie dolls go on sale) and 1979 (England gets its first nudist beach). So the number 9 isn’t a problem. Interestingly, the Vietnamese consider 9 to be lucky although it can also mean ‘long-lasting’ which can be taken either way; good or bad!
Since most of 2019 will be the Year of the Pig, it’s all going to be prosperous, too.
I suspect that as Vietnam takes a four-day holiday for the Western New Year, it’s a good sign that the nation as a whole can take most of the year easy. For the foreigners who live here, it’s another year of moving goal posts, mixed messages, rubber time and taking valium to deal mentally with the traffic.
As our New Year’s Day rain continues, it’s also a time to make those much-needed and of-lamented resolutions to do things differently, better, radically, life-transforming and sure to amaze your friends…if you can stick with it for 12 months…and anyone who’s not single knows this is impossible.
|Fireworks explode over the sky in Ho Chi Minh City on New Year's Day. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Getting into shape is a good one and easy in Vietnam. Simply walking to the shops, while dodging the traffic, should shave off about half a kilo a day. Deciding to save is harder, best to get a large metal tin and throw in all your low number Vietnamese cash each day. By the end of the month, you’ll have about a million dong. Works for the locals!
Wanna leave that dead English teaching job up in the mountains where there’s only one restaurant serving anything vaguely like a Western meal? Tricky…sneak out on a public holiday, use a private hire car and declare as loudly as possible on Facebook in the next town that you’ve been teaching English for more than six months and you’re willing to work early Sunday morning private classes.
One of the reasons I’ve lived so long in this culture is the endlessly cheerful nature of the Vietnamese, their optimism and their energy. Also, what knocks them down doesn’t necessarily get them down. They are a tough mob. Just look at how many times they get hit with natural disasters and man-made accidents, yet they keep going. Some might say, ‘Well, what choice do they have?’ And that’s partly true – but what is really surprising is the cheerfulness after the fall. Vietnamese don’t publically feel sorry for themselves too often.
So if we face 2019 and New Year’s Day, perhaps the best idea is to adapt to or absorb some of that attitude into ourselves as well rather than New Year’s resolutions or some fake outward impression of toughness and just deal with whatever comes with a shrug, a smile and a big dose of bravery.
So you’ll need a plan. I suggest, speaking as a battle-hardened, jaded, vile, old expat, buy a helmet, pay for some insurance, learn to fix things in the house yourself (and don’t tell the landlord), know where the best hospital is, carry the right change for topping up the motorbike, locate a decent pub, keep plenty of candles for the blackouts and power cuts, and if you see Vegemite for sale anywhere grab ALL of it.
Or as we say in Vietnam…
Có chí làm quan, có gan làm giàu (Fortune favors the brave)
To all our readers, good luck in 2019!
Oi! Em oi! Some more bacon and eggs and another Bloody Mary…please…