By: Anne b
Happy Friday Junior Ramblers! In case you haven’t guessed it already from listening to the podcast or following our social media, today we are talking about how I got to meet my biological Vietnamese family! If you have been with us since the beginning of time, then you already know that I, Anne, was adopted when I was 8 months old. In case you didn’t know that, here is the blog post I wrote in January about my adoption and all that. At the end of that post, I said that I wanted to visit Vietnam and my Vietnamese family this summer. Well, guess what? I did just that
June 14th, 2019
After being on the plane and at airports for 26 or so hours, I arrived at Noi Bai International Airport (near Hanoi) at 4 in the morning. I had been messaging one of my sisters since January so my Vietnamese family knew that I was arriving. My little sister, the eldest sister, my mom, and two of my nieces picked me up from the airport with a taxi. I recognized my sisters and my mom immediately, but it took me a good 30 minutes to figure who the heck the little girls were and which one of my sisters they belonged to.
When we arrived at my mom’s house, I was greeted by my brother-in-law and another sister. I dropped my bag in my little sister’s room and then my little sister and I went on a 20-minute walk/run. My little sister speaks a little English so we were able to talk a bit about Bac Ninh, the city where they live.
When we went back to the house, it was still only 7 in the morning so we decided to take a nap! We slept until around 11:30 am and by that time, Vivienne had arrived. I mentioned Vivienne in the previous Vietnam blog, but if you haven’t read that, Vivienne is one of my older sisters who was adopted by a French mom at the same time I was adopted.
We spent the rest of the day scootering around Bac Ninh and visiting the rest of the close family members. So now, you might be a little confused as to how many siblings, in-laws, and other family members I have… well, even I am still a little lost.
Let me break it down for y’all:
Dad: sadly passed away in January
Mom: Đàm Thị Vui
Children from youngest to oldest:
Nam: little brother, 16 years old
Thuan: little sister, 19 years old
Me! : 22 years old; adopted by my French parents
Vivienne: 24 years old; adopted by French mom at the same time I was adopted
Chuyen: older sister, married to Anh (meaning older brother) Khiet, three children
Trang: older sister, divorced, four children
Hien: older sister, married, two children
Ok, to be honest, I’m not sure what the ages are for Chuyen, Trang, and Hien (oops hehe). Also, in case you don’t feel like counting, I have 5 sisters, 1 little brother, 2 brothers-in-law (for now), and 9 nieces and nephews. Crazy, right?? And that doesn’t include all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on!
June 17th to June 18th, 2019
Yes, I know I’m skipping a few days, but if I described every single day, this blog post would be endless. Long story short, I spent the previous days getting to know everyone, learning some Vietnamese phrases and words, and shopping. Funny enough, the first phrases I learned in Vietnamese were: I don’t understand, I don’t know, I am vegetarian, I am full, and I don’t have a boyfriend...
The morning of the 17th, the whole close family got into a van and headed to Halong Bay. On this trip were all of my nieces and nephews, my siblings, my brothers-in-law, my little sister’s boyfriend, a family friend, my mom, and the taxi driver. I include the taxi driver because he became a part of the family for those two days and would eat at the restaurant with us!
We spent the first afternoon at the beach, swimming, and looking at the beautiful rock islands that float in Halong Bay. That night, Vivienne and I took our little sister and her boyfriend to an outdoors club. We drank and danced on the wet stage in front of the DJ and maybe possibly Vivienne and I got someone drunk… oops. It was still such a fun, amazing and liberating time, even for me. You would not have caught me dancing on the stage with only one other person before this.
The next day, we went to the beach again. However, misfortune struck when I got my finger jammed in a beach chair that was not properly working. Luckily, I didn’t lose my finger! However, my nail is slowly but surely falling off of my finger… Word of advice: don’t trust janky, wooden beach chairs. Anyways, I digress, after that unfortunate event, we got back in the van and headed home.
June 20th to 21st, 2019
Originally, my family wanted to do a second trip to Sapa with me, Vivienne, and a few others from my family. However, my family is not very wealthy and going to Sapa (which is an expensive, touristy area) was not possible. I didn’t mind since I was planning on going there later to meet up with my French cousin and her boyfriend.
Instead of going to Sapa, we ended up going to Tam Dao. It was supposed to be my mom, Nam, Thuan, me, and Vivienne. However, Vivienne had some work she needed to do, so it was just my mom, Nam, Thuan and me. We visited Tay Thien monastery in the Tam Dao mountains where my family got to ride a gondola for the first time to go up the mountain! At the monastery, my family went to each temple and prayed. It was a really interesting and beautiful experience.
After spending the night in Tam Dao, we headed back to Bac Ninh. Since the 21st was my last night with the family, the whole family (siblings, nieces/nephews, brothers-in-law, etc.) went to the park with a few pizzas and spent the night together.
June 22nd, 2019
I woke up at 5:30 in the morning because my bus to Sapa was leaving at 7 am. My mom, Nam, and Vivienne all came with me in the taxi that would drop me off at the bus stop. Good thing they were with me because we ended up being 45 minutes late. At about 7:30, the bus company called me to see where I was (I had bought a Vietnamese SIM card at the beginning of the trip - 10/10 would recommend). Since I don’t know much Vietnamese, I would not have been able to explain where we were and what our ETA was. Luckily, I was able to hand over my phone to my mom and she explained everything and the bus waited for me. From the multiple bus trips I took in Vietnam, it seems like promptness isn’t too important - neither from the riders nor the drivers haha. Just make sure you buy your ticket beforehand so that they have you in their system and they will almost always wait for you.
After arriving in Sapa, I spent the rest of my trip in Vietnam with my French cousin, Fanny, and her boyfriend. But that, my dear Ramblers, is a story for another time.
Looking back at my time with my Vietnamese family, I am filled with warmth and fond memories. Even though I knew zero Vietnamese when I arrived and they knew zero English (except for Thuan who knew a little), we were able to bond, create memories, and make inside jokes. The fact that we were able to easily overcome the language barrier still blows my mind. That language barrier definitely makes me want to learn Vietnamese before going back to visit though!
Anyways, I hope y’all liked this little introduction to my Vietnamese family. If you want to know more about my time with them and get more insight into the Vietnamese culture, check out yesterday’s podcast!
Until next week, ramble on loves!