It's been two years since we moved to Ho Chi Minh City, and today I spent this anniversary doing the exact same thing that I was probably doing two years ago: staring at the foil packages of laundry detergent at the grocery store, trying to figure out what kind I needed by the tiny little pictures on the front (hand-washing only? are the little blue sparkles supposed to mean bleach?) because everything is labeled in a language I can't read. Our landlord dropped off a new top-loading washing machine this morning, and I needed to figure out which little pictogram denoted "low-suds". Apparently, I need the detergent in the blue package now, instead of the orange package.
It's been two years and I kind of miss my life in Bangkok more than I miss my life in Canada, as nice it was with access to pesticide-free food, 911 service, and my family three hours north on Highway 2. I'm not sure that I've become any fonder of Saigon. I still get really frustrated with Madeline's school. I count the smallest things as major victories, like actually managing buy a gift here for my husband that he actually wanted (in case anyone is curious, a pasta roller from a shockingly nice kitchenware shop in District 3). I still get all angry inside when I see motorcycles speeding down the sidewalk when all the kids have left school for the afternoon. How much would a little patience and courtesy cost, Vietnam? I am so not going to miss that.
It's been almost five years since we left Canada and I think that my children are going to be in for a shock when we move back and they realize what it means to live in a culture of commercialism. We don't have toy stores where with more than a shelf of Barbies, Lego, and Crayola supplies. We don't see toy advertising anywhere. While this is so very nice in many ways, it also means that it's really hard to figure out what to do about gifts for Madeline's birthday next week. She's asked for books, and maybe to order a new outfit for her Un-Patriotic American Girl doll, but no toys, because she really doesn't know what's out there. Neither do I. She'll probably be receiving a lot of new books to mark her eighth year on this small world.
Two years isn't a long time at all, and it's really weird to think that in a few months it's going to be time to starting looking for the next place we'll relocate to. I've basically told Chris that I'll move anywhere except for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (not enough info about the schools, that's all). Bonus points if our next house or apartment comes with a dishwasher, of course. I have to focus on what's important :)