Lately, I have been reading many blogs from expats in Vietnam. Through their photography and stories, I was able to take a trip back home through my senses. Their beautiful pictures convey a feeling that is cannot be expressed in words. The feeling of warmth, of love, and of a place I long to come back to.
I call it Ho Chi Minh City because that is the name I grew up with, being in a Vietnamese-American community, I know the term is not politically correct, but somewhow, to me the word “Saigon” does not convey “home.” The word might convey home for my parents, my aunts and uncles, but for me, Saigon is just another name for my Ho Chi Minh City.
I often asks myself why I like Viet Nam so much, why don’t I have the desire to travel to Europe or South America? I think my love and curiosity for this place came from the fact that it was taken away from me so abruptly. Being removed so suddenly from Viet Nam, it makes me appreciate it 100 times more. If I were to stay in Viet Nam, I don’t know if I would have love the country so much. I don’t know if I would want to learn about its history so much, if can appreciate its beauty so much. To me, there are so many things about this country that I have yet figured out. There are places I have yet to visit and there are things I have yet to learn.
There’s something about Viet Nam and especially HCM City that excites the core of my being. My heart pounds every single time the pilot makes the announcement of the arrival at Tan Son Nhat. My body shivers as I pack my belongings to step out of the airplane. And just when that hot humid air hits my skins, my eyes swell up and I just want to fall to my knees and kiss the ground. At the first sight of human beings through the glass door, the men in thin worned down uniforms, the women in red ao dai, and there, far far away is the group of people who packs themselves in the heat, behind the metal frames…my heart, mind, body and soul yells out at once … “THẢO, WELCOME HOME”