February In Review
CAPTURING MOMENTS || FEBRUARY 2016
2.3 (Our Big Move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
- Moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – the last and final stop of the Asian adventure (… for now)
- Got hired by a great company and started working after seven months of unemployment
- Found a beautiful top-floor serviced apartment in the heart of Saigon run by the sweetest landlady
STREET ART, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam @ 12:05 pm
THE EXPATRIATES by Janice Y.K. Lee
“That’s the shock, and the surprise, to a lot of repatriates: No one back home cares. There’s an initial, shallow interestin what life is like abroad, but most Americans aren’t actually interested, at all.”
Synopsis: A powerful observation on the uprooted lives of expatriates in modern-day Hong Kong. The narrative follows the lives of three American women: Mercy is a Columbia graduate, haunted by a terrible accident in her past which launches a series of painful consequences in her future. Margaret, a mother of three beautiful children, struggles to deal with her new reality after a devastating loss. And Hilary, a wealthy but insecure housewife with an inability to conceive, weighs her options to adopt as a way to save her crumbling marriage. As these women find themselves in the depths of despair, their paths will cross and will change their lives forever.
While stumbling upon the title on a must-read list for different personality types, I purchased the book to see if a fictional account of Asian expatriates could compare to my own real-life experience living as an expat in Vietnam. As I flipped the pages, I was immediately hooked on the beautifully accurate portrayal about the inner lives of women, especially those based overseas. While the three title characters are as facile as they come, you as the reader can identify with their feelings of isolation and frustration in their troubling situations. Their dealings with loss, betrayal, inadequacy, and misfortune, perfectly set the stage for all the drama that unfolds. . The three women are antagonizing creatures, yet their actions and pretensions are justified based on the chain-of-events. It was troubling that I noticed a likeness to these tragic women. Their flawed personalities helped me to address the demons I face being separated from my support network. I appreciated how all the men in the story take a backseat to the female characters. Each chapter focuses solely on one titular character creating a dialogue among these separate, yet fatefully intertwined women. With the story being told from three different perspectives, the tension feels almost palpable since you see every piece of the story from three different sides so its hard to pledge all your allegiance to just one character. You don’t know who to affix the label of protagonist or the antagonist to. They all somewhat encompass both labels at the same time. For all the tenseness you suffer throughout the read, the ending comes as very much of a letdown which was my only gripe with the text. Otherwise what I extracted from the book did contain a word of truth to my on-the-ground experience as an expat. I believe that the superficial quality of the characters and the plot were essential to describing the sad truth about expat-hood: that our lives abroad can never match the substance of our lives at home. They will always just be shallow recreations.
ON THE INTERNET
- If you need to see something uplifting, look at this compilation of 50 Captivating Photos of Girls Going to School Around the World. Equality now. Education is a powerful and beautiful thing.
- We know of the witches of Salem past but what about the witches of Salem today? Covered by a dear friend of mine, Haley Houseman brings to light The Real Witches of Salem, MA.
- As a tribute to my new stomping grounds and penchant for #foodporn, I bring you @saigonesekitchen, a striking assembly of some of the best food shots in and around Ho Chi Minh City.
- A nominee of mine for the Liebster Award, Kyle of Go Drift Away penned this Why You Should Only Fall For Travelers if You Can Give Them The World, detailing reasons why you should practice caution before pursuing a vagabonding soul.
- Lauren Klarfield’s blog-turned-book-project, Last Words For The Road is a collection of quotes given to her by fellow travelers looking to impart wisdom, or as she puts it, ‘to transmit’ hope. Add your quote to the pile today!
UP NEXT MONTH: A month full of our first visitors in Vietnam! xoxo Izzy