Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Anh Do made my lifestyle feel like a complete joke.

I'll cut straight to the point this morning.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the trailer for Anh Do's new show 'Anh Do Does Vietnam' on the telly.
Looked great.
Just the type of thing I love but just haven't seen around for a while.
Exactly what the title said. Anh Do. Travelling around Vietnam. Doing his thang. Eating local food. Yum!
Just for starters, Anh Do is an Australian comedian who came to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam long ago.

And of course, we had to miss the TV airing of both his episodes.
So, we snuggled up in bed and watched it online.

Oh Vietnam.
I haven't been there.
But I think big parts of it will seem like what Singapore was like twenty to thirty years ago.
I like where Anh Do went.
A lot of the times, foreign travellers are 'sheltered' or brought to the touristy places of any country and that is just a joke really if you've said you've been to Vietnam but you didn't go to their local roadside stall or village. It's like how I've been to Melbourne but I stayed in the city and did the Great Ocean Road day trip.

I have a car.
When I've done the grocery run, our car saves me.
When I'm late, our car saves me.
My kids start complaining and whinging when we walk for more than 10-15 minutes to the local shops or their friend's place.
Those village kids in picturesque Sapa?
They walk 6 km daily to school in 0 degree weather with no freakin shoes.
The incentive for the village kids to go to school is so that they get one proper meal a day at school.
I have kids who keep telling me they are hungry no matter how much I feed them.
I have a nice house.
By the term 'nice', I have three decent bedrooms, a nice powerful showerhead which gives me hot water, a sofa to sit on and a 4 burner stove and oven to make cooking easier.
I have a great, materialistic life.
Even if I think that my life is probably less materialistic than lots, it is still materialistic.
You have the same materialistic life as I do.
I went to the finders keeper market on the weekend in Melbourne.
Bought myself the Frankie Spaces magazine, a pink neon table runner, some christmas tags.
We have a dining table and I have the choice to change our current old dining chairs (which mind you, haven't broken) for new Eames replica ones.... like what everyone else seems to have.
Do your kids have lots of toys?
Mine do.

My life is a complete joke really.
The things I worry about in my life are ridiculous as the families in the poorer parts of Vietnam showed me.
A normal house in Sapa.
All wooden. They were all crouching...squatting.
To be honest, I couldn't even see the inside of the house clearly on the telly.
It was all dark. And there really wasn't anything in the house.
Not much furniture.
And the clincher?
The mum lit fire to some hay she was holding and shoved it under a small stove with a pot on it.
I'm thinking that if I ever had to set fire to hay in this life, it sure won't be in my wooden house.

Anh Do was hilarious.
He warmed my heart when he said his Grandma thought the garden hose was the best invention ever when she first came to Australia.
And it's true. I stand around in one spot of my garden aiming my garden hose everywhere.
I don't know if you saw it but he showed that old Viet lady carrying two huge water buckets supported by a wooden beam over her shoulders and that was how she watered her rows of veggies.

Now, I didn't write this post so that you can immediately run over to World Vision and support a child.
You don't have to say 'Awww, they're so pitiful!'
This is what Asia is like for a lot of Asian countries.
I think everyone has a very different level of comfort and lifestyle standards for themselves.
Their lifestyles and habits are different from ours but in some ways, they are amazing and fantastic.
Cycling around delivering noodles? Amazing.
Kids catching fishes with their bare hands in the river? That's quite a feat.
No plastic toys with blinking lights in sight? That is my dream come true.

I wrote this post for myself.
Because when you're in a first world country like I am, first world problems arise.
How much those first world problems affect your life will depend on how important you think they are.
Wondering which school my kid would go to next year.
Wondering if you should pull down and rebuild your house because house-land packages are really attractive nowadays.
Wondering if you should choose Antique white for your next wall colour.
Wondering why on earth Instagram is not working when you need it most.

The majority of Viets that I know... I came to know in Australia.
The people I know are mostly second generation Aussies.
The Viets I know are wonderful, they have an unbelievably crazy sense of humour and they are smart.
I think many of them are street-smart too, which is a valuable asset that lots of kids don't have.
From what I can see, the small Viet communities in Australia are very tight-knit.
Their parents are equally wonderful.
I still remember the time one of my Viet friend's mum invited a bunch of us over to their home and cooked up the most delicious homecooked Viet meal.
Our dentist is my husband's high school Viet friend and his Dad and his sister are his receptionists.

So thank you, Anh Do... for putting some decent tv on this time.
It is so easy to be in Australia, away from it all and get surrounded by the very good life.
I think it is ever easier as a mum because you want the 'best' for your kids and a lot of the time, it is very easy to compare 'what is best' with other mums.
I have no clue what I'm doing as a mum or how my kids will turn out in the future but I do thank God that they have clean, comfortable beds...clean water, shoes to wear and a school to go to.

Hope you have a lovely start to the week :)


  1. Oh Germaine, you are SPOT on! I love Anh Do's show. My husband and I travelled through Vietnam 10 years ago and it was so lovely to see it all again. My highlight of the show was when Anh visited his friend, Trish Franklin, at one of her schools. Trish is an amazing person, who has lived in Vietnam for almost 20 years and has dedicated her life to helping the Vietnamese children. She is an inspiration!

    1. Oh Kate - I would love to go to Vietnam one day and I think I'll enjoy it all. So good to hear that you've been there!
      Yes - I watched the part on Trish. She is completely amazing and it is so heartening to see an Aussie out there working to make the lives of the Vietnamese children better. I was so touched when Anh handed the cheque over to her. xx

  2. What a thought provoking post! And a wonderful way to get me thinking as I approach the start of a new day and a new week. What ever is going on in my life, it's lovely to be reminded of how lucky we are and to appreciate the blessings that we have everyday!

    1. I'm so so glad you feel the same way that I do. You have said it perfectly!!! xx

  3. I used to live in a mostly vietenesmese neighbourhood and even though my neighbour had all the material things you would still see her out the back squatting cooking rice :)

    Kelly w

    1. That is so amusing to hear Kelly! We drove through one of the viet neighbourhoods in Melbourne the other day and saw a lady wearing one of those cone shaped hats gardening. You wouldn't have thought we were in Melbourne. Love it. xx

  4. Hi Germaine, this is a great post and totally helped me put things in perspective. Often, the things that occupy my thought space look so trivial in comparison. I mentioned your post on my blog this morning cos it was an important reminder. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Jasmine, thanks so much for your wonderful comment! And thank you for the very lovely mention, I really appreciate it. I am off to check out your blog. Have a very beautiful start to the week! :) XX

  5. Germaine, this is a really beautiful post. We watched this last night, and the scene at the kinder ! Oh! The tears!
    I loved how Ahn delivered the show.

  6. Thought provoking and beautiful as always Germaine. Thank you xx

  7. Oh Germaine, this is beautiful. Your writing is amazingly uplifting. I love it.
    I often wonder why we/ I was chosen to live this life and others probably better than me live in poverty

  8. hey germaine, I was brought here through Jasmine's blog ... thanks for writing this ... it is wonderfully written... a good reminder on how much we have and take for granted.. I am guilty ...

  9. Hi Germaine, Cat here from Raspberry Rainbow on IG. This is a fabulous post, I have been thinking about much of what you say. I may live in HK, a very comfortable place to love, but it is never far away that so many others have so much less than I do. I try to be grateful for all I have, and not complain when I cant afford to buy more fabric that I "want", and dont "need". It does not seem fair at all.

    I'll see if I can find Anh's show on the interweb, it sounds fabulous.


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