This concept of comfortable silence. It’s interesting to experience. I go out with friends here and sometimes when our knowledge of each other’s language only takes us so far, or if we just run out of things to talk about because it’s a warm afternoon, we sit in silence and watch what happens around us. We watch the waiters walk by at an easy pace. I listen to see if I understand any of their Vietnamese, or smile at them joking around if business is slow.

I was out today for lunch, which ended up being much longer than I expected. We met at the local cafe/restaurant around 11:30 and ate and told jokes and laughed with our mouths full. Then, one by one, people started to leave: Minh had a meeting, and Martha had a Vietnamese lesson. This left Duc and myself. He agreed to humor me by playing a game of Chinese chess. Chinese chess is similar to what I’ve been calling “Western chess,” but some of the pieces move differently, and there are certain movement rules that are different as well. This makes for a very interesting game. I have learned the movement patterns by now, but there are strategies that I usually end up overlooking. Duc must have felt like my sister did when she taught me Western chess. He would ask me, “Now what do you want to do with this piece, it’s free now?” or “If I move here, what will you do?” We ended up playing two games, which took pretty long as we ended up discussing nearly every move that was made. I would ask things like, “Now why can’t I move here?” and Duc would usually say something like, “Because then I will take this piece and threaten your defense.” I was fun and I’m learning something about the strategy. Perhaps someday I will be able to play a game well without having my hand held. We went through pots and pots of tea, and finally left for naps a little while after 2.

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