The prevailing response to yesterday’s reality check was, “Can you move to a different place?”
In theory we could. We might lose the money we’ve paid for the month’s rent, or maybe the landlords would agree to refund part of our money; I don’t know. In any event, we’re not moving—at least not yet.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes (I tell my kids this on a fairly regular basis.) Of course discomfort is designed to make us change something; but I think it’s okay to live with a little discomfort. I know that it won’t be rainy and grey every day here. I know that we’ll eventually get our rental bikes and I’ll enjoy biking through the rice paddies to the market. I know that we’ll get to know the neighbourhood restaurants and their owners and they’ll learn our kids’ quirky preferences.
It’s okay to try very small changes before pulling out the big guns. Before I go off trying to find a new place and negotiating for the return of my money from our current landlord, I can try spending more time on our rooftop terrace with its 270 degree view of the river and the rice paddies beyond. No matter how cloudy or grey it is, it’s always brighter on the roof than inside the house. I spent a few hours up there this afternoon—I’ve declared it our schooling spot—and I felt a bit better. So there’s that.
It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, and it doesn’t always require a quick fix.
We went to the night market tonight (disappointing in terms of no substantial dinner, but the kids ate their fair share of banana-nutella crepes.) It seems that Mr. December never met a souvenir he didn’t like. He also stops at every street food stand and buys from at least a third of them. The night market only covered a 300-metre stretch of road, but it took us two hours to go to the end and back.
It just so happened to be the first day of the lunar month, which is one of two days a month that people in the old town light lanterns and set them afloat on the river (the other day is the 15—full moon.) We were offered a lantern for 50,000 Dong but held out until we got it for 10,000 (tourist pricing is a very real thing here. Bargaining is essential.) E used the long-handled basket to lower the lantern down to the river to join the dozens already there. The water reflected the floating lanterns, the round lanterns on the river boats, and the lights in the streets. It was beautiful.
Oh, and for bonus points tonight, we found both a swingset AND a giant bouncy castle. If only I’d taken them to a proper restaurant for dinner instead of food stalls, I’d have won the ‘best parent’ award. Maybe next time.