The sounds of the day begin in layers. First it’s the rooster from yesterday, crowing, and no one other than me and possibly other tourists who are holed up next to this thing hear it, because it doesn’t stop. Nothing comes of the crowing.
Around 6 am the purring of motorcycles echo up from some narrow passageways that even google maps has a difficulty locating, hence the sidetracking, literally sideways last night, to locate Hoang Yen Guesthouse. Phuc made four passes before seeing the little jetty away from the chaos (hỗn loạn) of bui vien street (Dướng bui vien).
Then the honking. There’s an intersection somewhere. They are higher pitched than back home and sort of sound whiny.
Then some message in repetition comes over a loud speaker.
A few liberated song birds flutter between soundtracks.
I watch across the archipelago of balconies to a young man who is undressing the cages of his birds. Each he methodically takes down, places on the balcony and then unwrap the fabric. His army of birds. And on both sides of the cages birds perch; those free flutter to the next cage before ejecting the scene.
Phúc, the son of my aunt’s child, meets up with us in the afternoon. Last night he told me about his life in Ho Chi Minh city. He lives in District 4 and is a dj of live music karaoke. He studied computer programming and wants to make online applications. In a direct question to me he asked if I thought that the Vietnamese hated the Americans. I answered ’no,’ it’s the past, right?, basing my answer on the impression I had got from Hương about the burgeoning U.S./Vietnamese relations. He said I was right and that actually the Vietnamese now hate the Chinese, or more precisely, the Chinese government. According to the New York Time’s article about Obama’s visit, Phúc information is reliable and his situation isn’t unique. About 50% of the country is under 30 years old and increasingly ambition to have a global experience and inclusion.
The welcome of American support and collaboration reignites the post-World War II reality of global superpowers. Russia and the U.S. and now China. Vietnam now befriending the U.S. is a call not only for economic development but a hope that the tensions over the Spratley Island and South Asian Sea can be quelled, as China has laid claim to them recently.
Thành Phố Hồ Chị Mình (Ho Chi Minh City) was Sài Gòn until the Communist revolt against the French and later U.S. as the biggest city and economic engine of the country, it’s southern location makes its namesake sensitive. The city was the seat of southern resistance to the northern communist powers. The conquest of Saigon by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) makes the renaming a bit of a symbolic gesture. The dynastic tradition of renaming or relocating the administrative capital, such as from Huế moving to Hà Nộ,
“As Obama heads to Vietnam, Current Events overshadow History,“http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/world/asia/as-obama-heads-to-vietnam-current-events-overshadow-history.html?_r=1