One of the things I miss about living in Asia is seeing a place through our daughters’ eyes (well our oldest anyway, Zara, who lived in Phnom Penh until she was 3 months old then Saigon until she was over two. The youngest, Sofia, was only a few months old when we left Saigon for Sydney).
I miss the days we used to walk to our local market to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables, and that Zara thought it was normal to go to ‘the market’ instead of ‘the shops’. I miss her trying to climb up our neighbours motorbikes until someone would sit her on one for fun, and how happy it made her. I loved that pre-babycino obsession she used to drink out of coconut shells bigger than her head, while I had my daily cafe sua da, and that she’d sampled street food by the age of 18 months. Zara was so used to all things Asian that she had noticeable culture shock after moving to Australia – wondering where all the motorbikes were, why we weren’t jumping in taxis anymore, and where her little friends had gone…
I’m happy we lived in Asia for her first two years, but I’m a little regretful and sad for the opportunities that could have been if we stayed a bit longer. I wonder what our now almost three and a half year old would be like if we still lived in Vietnam, what she’d be doing, what she’d be saying, how she’d react to everything. And I wonder how our one year old would be different should we be in Asia instead of here, the only home she will remember.
I have to keep reminding myself it wasn’t a utopian wonderland though – Zara hated being touched and grabbed by strangers on the street on a daily basis. Manoeuvring a stroller around was a bit of a nightmare sometimes, and things like powercuts seemed extra annoying with little ones around. As time passes we (luckily) remember more of the good bits than the bad though.
I love that Zara remembers Asia well enough to be excited for our upcoming trip, and I’m thankful Sofia will get a taste of the continent she was born – to experience some of the things her big sister got to do at her age. I also like to think their ‘living in Asia’ adventures aren’t over forever, but we’ll see!