A lazy bike ride around Cai Be on a Saturday afternoon

Middle aged men sitting on small stalls outside their houses, playing dominoes, drinking beer and gambling. Noisy, laughing, happy in their time together. Intent on the game and their next move. An afternnoon or day of rest and no work maybe?

A big gang of teenagers, handsome boys with trendy haircuts…shaved at the side and swept up at the front. Pretty girls with sleek, long hair, well groomed. Each with a mode of transport…a motorised pushbike, a moped, a motorbike or just a pushbike. Hanging, chatting, laughing, flirting.

Younger girls, drawing with sticks in the sand. Giggling and singing a silly little song. They see me ride by. “Hello, hello,” they call, “Where are you from? What is your name?”

Boys, about 8 or 9, throwing rocks at something, looking mischevous. An old lady yells at them and chases them with her broom. She then returns to sweeping the pavement outside her house, muttering quietly to herself and shaking her head. She catches my eye and laughs.

Three girls around 12, one on a pushbike, two on a moped. The girl on the back of the moped with her leg out on the back of the pushbike, pushing it along at the same speed as the moped, as she uses her mobile phone. The girls at the front laughing and chatting. The girl on the pushbike is wearing a traditional type of long tunic, slit at the side over leggings. She needs to hold one corner of it up elegantly so it doesn’t get caught in the bike chain or wheels.

Old ladies sitting on the sidewalk, deep in gossip. Occasional outbursts of laughter. Pointing and laughing at me as I ride by.

An old man out the front of his house, small table and stool, waiting for his coffee to brew in the stainless steel coffee brewer.

A street of music. Young men with their super boosted speakers. Competing with each other. A sign of manliness, a show of testosterone? Vietnamese pop music. A small group of young woman at the corner. Are they plucking up the courage to do the walk down the street in front of the men? Some subtle things obviously not clear to the non-local passerby.

Village chickens everywhere, on the hunt for an early evening snack before returning to roost for the night.

All this busyness and living on the street. One wonders if anyone is lonely in Vietnam and consequently does anyone suffer from depression? The connections and sense of community that we crave for in Australia are certainly apparent, at least in this part of Vietnam. I do believe the housing style, with small plots and building upwards, and many people, extended families, living in small spaces forces people out on the street. Once on the street, they meet, co-mingle and live more share and connected lives. 

I catch the ferry back to the Lodge and as I ride back the sun begins to set. I pass various houses with music starting to crank up. Saturday night is beginning. Later I learn about the ritual in Vietnam of celebrating the death day as opposed to the birthday. When one ponders this scenerio, you start to realise how individual and egotistical it is to celebrate your day of birth. To celebrate a death day focuses on the past but it brings the family and friends together and they party in recognition of that past life.


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