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Where You Go? Mo-toe-bike?!

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

My trip has officially begun, and as soon as I stepped out of the airport I could feel the city's energy. The energy is raw and it pumps faster through my body with every honk of a motorbike, which averages about 8 honks a second.

The very first thing that I noticed was that houses seemed to be pushing their way onto the airport's runway, bursting the seams of the city and in desperate need of space.

When I stepped out of the airport I was instantly accosted by taxi drivers trying to escape with my ignorant use of the Dong. Luckily, I had read about them and how to avoid them. I took the public bus.

Though Couchsurfers I found myself a host and organized a meeting place. Regardless of his simple directions, I got lost and instead of finding my way to his girlfriends travel agency, I found my way into a bar. Having prior knowledge of the city's unofficial motto, "same same," I decided to settle myself in and have my first Vietnamese beer with a group of backpackers.

After the beer, and conveniently, after the monsoon rains subsided, I found my host, Zohar. He took me to his girlfriends store where I kept my backpack under her mother's watchful eye, and off we went for lunch and later dinner.

My host, Zohar, is an incredibly generous man. He's originally from Israel and considering he's only 23-years-old, he's had a life I couldn't possibly begin to comprehend. When he took me to his apartment by motorbike to drop off my luggage and clean up, he told me a bit of his life story.

Raised by his grandmother in Israel, Zohar is the son of his father's fourth wife. When his mother married his father his grandmother disowned the family, save for Zohar, who she decided it was her duty to care for. She is also the one responsible for his name: Zohar is a Hebrew name that means "All the light in the world."

He told me that most of his childhood was spent in extreme poverty. Days without meals and electricity were common for him. So, when he turned 13 he dropped out of school and became a pool hustler. He did all that he could to support his grandmother and himself, himself always second.

After completing the required three years of military service, and consequently fighting in and surviving three wars, Zohar was disciplined and ready to work with life and not against it. He found a good job here in Ho Chi Minh and now helps to support his girlfriend, Jroung, and her 3-year-old baby, who he affectionately calls Bin Laden.

Jroung--the phonetic spelling--is a beautiful 22-year-old Vietnamese widow. I'm not entirely sure how or when her husband died, but to my understanding it happened a couple of years ago in a motorbike accident. Jroung helps her mother-in-law run a travel agency/book store--something that's already proven incredibly useful.

permalink written by  Nomadic Movements Of An Itinerant on April 23, 2009 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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Nomadic Movements Of An Itinerant Nomadic Movements Of An Itinerant
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"Nomadic Movements Of An Itinerant" is the story of my three month journey from Busan, South Korea to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

This is the trip I planed after my father's unexpected death to re-evaluate my life and discover things both internal and external. This is a journey...

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