A few days into my trip to Vietnam, I noticed something pretty spectacular. Everywhere I looked, I saw women working hard labour. They were rowing me around canals and seas, watering their vast vegetable gardens, harvesting rice in the fields and working in shops selling me all kinds of delights. I began to also wonder, where are all the men? I learned that they are also working hard to support their families, but less visible to tourists.
In seeing these women working so very hard every day of their lives, I began to feel very lucky. I am fortunate to be born in a place where I have a choice about the kind of job I want to have, and the age I want to get married or have children (if at all). I have also had the opportunity of education, which supports all of my choices.
As much as I can’t relate to the lives these hard working ladies have here in Vietnam, they can’t relate to me. I was on a tour of all ladies, and the sight of the 20 of us wandering this land on our own was an oddity to locals at every one of our stops. I clearly recall one hard working lady looking at us all with a puzzled expression as she exclaimed, “No husbands! Where are all your husbands?”
As culturally different as we may have been to each other, we always connected through smiles and laughter. And, through shopping!
As my wise tour leader Minh said as we noisily shared our shopping treasures with each other after a trip to the market, “you are just like Vietnamese women. You are all excited to talk and talk about what you bought!”