It’s been a year since I came home for good, and about 10 months since I started living in Saigon. For the past almost year, I was surprised at how smoothly I’ve eased myself into living here, without any major hiccup. Until today.
Many people have asked me what living in Saigon feels like, and how it is different to life in Hanoi. My answer has always been, and it is true, “home is where my loved ones are, as long as I have family, I don’t feel any different”. Settling here has been pretty easy for me, and it’s largely due the fact that I have my husband, who doubles as my best friend, beside me. Most things I love overseas now can be found in this vibrant city of Saigon, from Greek yoghurt, to Royce chocolate, and all sorts of cheese. Not to mention the amazing selection of Vietnamese cuisine that can only be found in Saigon, not any other city in Vietnam.
As a foodie, my major source of stress relief involves eating, cooking, or baking. And Saigon has no shortage of that sort. Second choice would be shopping, which I’ve also never had so many opportunities like in here, both thanks to the little bit higher standard of living I have now that I’m working fulltime, and the abundance in styles and price ranges that this city has to offer. On top of that, the weather is much better than Hanoi where I was born and raised; and the people are generally also nice.
So you see I’d never had a problem with Saigon. Until today, when for some unknown reason I feel like my mental state is of a record low level, when I don’t even want to see my husband, and the slightest thing can annoy me to the point of bursting into tears, that I realised Saigon lacks a hideout place for me to totally unwind.
Stepping out of home equals getting on a scooter and maneuvering through the busy streets, and at the end of that traffic enduring is the workplace. Even a place to cry freely seems like a luxury. After a year, now I realise I miss sitting alone in the park (and feeling safe doing so), I miss having the option to walk to the windy beach in Vuosaari (Helsinki) or Scarborough (Perth) and cry there without anyone asking me how I am, or worse, stealing my belongings. After all the food, shops, and milk tea, what I need of this city is an open space where there are not that many people, where there is a place to park my scooter without having to worry about it, and where I can sit like a lost, lonely girl, or do whatever, without being taken advantage of.
It really feels suffocating to not be able to do that, now that I know what I’m missing in here, because it’s really not a lot to ask.
Saigon, there’s still a long way to go.