Buddhism: A religion that I knew close to nothing about before entering Vietnam. But after today I can now confidently say that I understand the religion. Even though Buddhism is not my personal belief I was still able to find the beauty in it today. The religion is built around the idea of ending human suffering by clearing your mind of wants. The peace that comes with the religion is what I find beautiful. Because not only do the values and beliefs exemplify this blissful state of mind but also the temples. We visited one Buddhist temple today and upon entering you must remove your shoes and keep your voice at a minimum. I watched as others lit incense and began to pray. One woman in a perfect rhythmic bowing method prayed to her god above. This is the best part of a new country, experiencing their world in the way that they do and being open to learning about new things despite what your personal beliefs may be.
After the tour, we took a trip to Vina Capital. Vina Capital has two parts, the first is the foundation and the second is an investment group. The foundation’s main goal is to help impoverished children and give them the ability to take advantage of Vietnam’s developing country. One way they do this is by helping children in rural areas who have congestive heart disorder by paying for their surgeries and thus extending their life. Another program they offer is providing payment for women to get a higher education. Their purpose is not only to simply help the kids but also receive a slight investment back. This investment is that by creating opportunities for kids, Vina Capital is helping to build a middle class. Hopefully, these kids will be able to give back to Vina Capital one day. So by offering support to these kids, they are helping Vietnam develop.
After the site visit, we went to the Ben Tanh market. It was so overwhelming that I didn’t take out my phone to take a picture and I am actually extremely sad about this. This experience is nothing like I’ve ever had before. I was surrounded by Vietnamese venders, and for once they spoke English. Well, the same three lined English: “Hello miss,” “What are you looking for miss,” “I have a bargain for you miss.” At first, I would stop and smile at each one apologizing for not wanting anything, but then I realized I had to be strong keep my eyes on the items, only stop if I had absolute interest, and never fold. It’s intense, not a light stroll in the local stops like you’d expect. It takes blood, sweat, and tears. Well, actually no blood or tears but never worry that’s replaced with a whole lot more sweat. In my 45 min experience, I managed to become overwhelmed, get lost, look at the same shops multiple times, and fail at bargaining. I came back at the end of the trip with nothing to show for besides some overpriced chopsticks that did not come with a box or chopstick stands like my roommates did (yes I’m very salty about this). At this point, I knew I had to step up my game. So later that night with two friends in tow we headed to the nighttime market and oh did I bargain. Firm and fast I told them I only had my minimum amount and had no more money physically taking out the one bill to prove it, I closed every deal at my lowest price. I was a winner (for once on this trip). Yeah so here comes the sad part I do not have nine tips for you. Today is just day nine so wanted to throw that in somewhere. But, I will leave you with one tip: Never fold, walk away and let them pull you back in (literally) to YOUR price.
This guy’s carrying who knows what and all I could think about was someone accidentally getting impaled on it. Yikes! Also if you’ve ever seen Frozen, that scene where Olaf gets impaled is exactly what I’m picturing.