Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Embarrassing Ten - Part Two

This evening I took a break from packing for the big house move to finish this project. Here's the conclusion to my list of the Ten Most Embarrassing Songs on My MP3 Player.

Vietnam photos coming soon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Leaving Vietnam tonight

Wife's work relocation will continue a few more days, but I will be leaving Vietnam tonight and arriving back in Tokyo tomorrow morning, five days ahead of schedule. There hasn't been much else to do or blog about for the past three days, but once I'm back I can post the photos I've taken here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Something That's Bothering Me

It's morning on the second day of our stay in Ho Chi Minh City. Yesterday we practiced resisting the advances of various vendors as politely as possible in the Bến Thành Market, a place that isn't much fun for people who dislike haggling as intensely as I do. The market was oppressively stuffy and full of nauseating smells, so Wife and I decided to escape the crowds briefly by walking around the outer perimeter of the market building.

On the sidewalk outside the market, I felt a tap on my arm and turned to see a man who was missing several portions of the skin on his face. His lips were gone, perpetually showing a full set of teeth. His nose had been reduced to a slight protrusion with two nostrils and his right eye was surrounded by raw-looking tissue that barely seemed to cover the bone. I couldn't guess his age because what skin he had left was pulled too tightly around his head to reveal any natural wrinkles. I assume his injuries were not recent, because he didn't appear to be in pain, yet the tissue showing where his skin was missing looked wet and vulnerable. He didn't look like a leper; he looked like he had just tried to eat an exploding string of firecrackers.

The sight of this man was horrifying and something I wish I could forget, but what haunts me more is the way I reacted to him. The man met my eyes and said "hi" in English. I don't recall displaying any outright revulsion or shock at the man's appearance, but my response was nothing more than a similar "hi," after which I immediately turned ninety degrees and walked away with Wife in tow, hoping she wouldn't have to see him. I don't know what reaction would have been better, and I'm sure others before my have seen this man and reacted with more obvious horror than I did, but I can't help but feel like I was horribly rude to this man whose nightmarish appearance was no fault of his own. Curt as my responses to every vendor in the market may have been, they were all accompanied by a smile. This guy only got a parroted "hi" and a quick look away.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail

The French government has been quick to pull as many of its citizens out of Japan as possible during the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis. As an American, that would normally not make a difference one way or another for me. Wife, however, is employed by a French company, which has decided to move her entire team and their families to the company's Ho Chi Minh branch. And that's why this post is being written from a hotel room in Vietnam.

Neither of us feel good about this situation. Wife and I have essentially high-tailed it out of the so-called "danger zone" and left our friends, her family and many of my coworkers in Japan. Wife's family is a safe distance from the Fukushima radiation and my coworkers who have elected to stay are continuing their lives in a basically normal fashion (well, normal plus rolling blackouts), yet here we are, hiding.

Oh yeah. And I have no idea whether or not I'm putting myself in trouble with my own employer over this sudden absence, which is likely to last ten days.

The good news is that, with wife at work, I'll have nothing but time on my hands...and that means blog posts. See? Every cloud of radioactive particles has a silver lining.

I'm so tired I can barely think.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Embarrassing Ten

With Japan currently being shaken by one earthquake after another, the timing of this lighthearted video post is admittedly less than ideal. Wife and I are fine (or rather, we will be fine after we clean up all the books, CDs, papers and other things that were strewn about our apartment yesterday). I'd been working on this video for a while, and it just happens to be finished today. So, enjoy: The Ten Most Embarrassing Songs on My MP3 Player.