Sunday, Mar 18th

Last update02:43:24 PM GMT


Pham Le Nhi


Although, Mr. Hoang wants me to write about my favorite memory, I cannot say that I have one favorite, since different events have different impacts on me and each memory has its’ own unique features. My favorite series of memories would have to be those of my trips to Vietnam. I often find myself thinking back to Vietnam every once in a while, and I find myself thinking back to then even more so because of my upcoming trip to Saigon this summer.


I was born in Vietnam, but the time I spent there during my birth was fleeting. I came to the United States at the age of two; therefore my memories of my home country during those two years are practically nonexistent. However, my parents would plan a trip back every two years so I can visit the country and its culture as well as my mother side of the family. Every two years soon became every three years, and now four. Each extension of the years before I could revisit Vietnam only makes me long to visit it even more.

Yes, Vietnam is dirty, dusty, and poverty-ridden, but that’s the beauty of Vietnam, honestly. Of course, saying that now probably made no sense, but Vietnam is unique that way. The people may live in poverty, but the country is rich with beauty and natural resources. The countryside has more green and lakes and rivers and nature than national parks in California, where I was raised. Vietnam is social, loud, busy, humid, and much different from the United States. I love many things about my home country. I love the authentic food I am able to eat and taste only in Vietnam. I love the bustling cities and how I could just walk to get to most places in my neighborhood. I love being able to call a sugar cane juice vendor by the entrance of my aunt’s shop and then receive cool, fresh sugar cane juice in a plastic bag. I especially love the transportation; the ability to ride on motorbikes during the cool night through the city of Saigon with the various chatter, lights, and aroma of street food. I love my mother side of the family, with all of them so lively and close unlike my father side.

Although my parents would take both my sister and I to Vietnam, I think that I am more attached to the country than my sister. She is much more cautious than me when in Vietnam, always fearing Vietnam’s dirty and unsanitary state, never trying out the strongly flavored food, and too accustomed to the life style of America. I’m much bolder when in Vietnam, compared to her. I love trying out food that is part of my culture that I cannot find in San Jose, California. I don’t mind getting dirty as I sit in dusty street cafes and restaurants.

My favorite memories, however, are my family. My mother side of the family is much more open, lively, and closely knitted than my father’s side. I have noticed several large differences such as familiarity. My father family speaks to each other only by name as if they are strangers rather than brother and sisters. They would live their own lives and their own lives only, gather to my house only for special occasions. But my mother family is loud, calling each other by affectionate nicknames or playful insults. They would drop by from time to time without a phone call just to chat or to take the whole family out for dinner. They would plan family trips and take my sister and I out for a ride in the city or a hunt for some late night snacks or to the arcade were my sister and I can enjoy playing games with our cousins. Unlike my monotonous life in America, every single day in Vietnam is different. We’ll eat in today and eat out tomorrow and maybe have an unplanned party the day after. Daytime is busy and chatty where the nighttime, although still chatty, is much cooler and more relaxed. I absolutely adore them.

Of course my family does not only limit only to the city, but it also extents to the village, where my grandparents once lived bust, but now belongs to my cousin and his wife after their passing. The village is very dusty and humid and very poor, but the landscape is beautiful with its never ending rice patties and small lakes. Food in the village is fresh since my cousin has his own livestock and his own lake for fishing. We would visit the village once every week during my visits to Vietnam, since it’s a long trip to the village. It’s a small quiet community, and very close. Everyone is friendly to everyone, so it’s always a nice contrast to vast, noisy Saigon.

Every time I have to make my trip back to California, I would always be the first one to cry. I never cry when I leave for Vietnam, but once I step into the airport’s grounds, the tears would start, which then would make my sister cry and my relatives. It’s hard not to cry. It’s hard to only see half of your family for one month for every 48 months. I would wish to spend more time with them, but because I cannot, I cherish the memories in Vietnam, whether they are good or bad. Not a single memory is the same and because every memory is different, I cannot pick one single memory to be my favorite. Although, it seems that I will be able to make more memories this summer when I come back home to visit everyone.

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