The city of Vientiane was a very special city for me to visit because that is where both my parents are from. I often get asked by other Asian people ‘what are you?’ I guess even in the Asian culture I’m racially ambiguous. Just to keep the answer simple, I usually say I’m Vietnamese because of my maiden last name. Plus, all my extended family in Houston are also Vietnamese.
The real story isn’t that simple. My Dad is predominantly Vietnamese, but was raised in Vientiane, Laos. All his siblings were born and raised in Vientiane, but still spoke Vietnamese at home and kept the traditions alive because of my grandparents. The majority of my Dad’s siblings married a Vietnamese person, but him and another brother married Lao women.
My family fled because of the Communist war back in 1975. When they all moved to the U.S., my aunts and uncles continued living as Vietnamese people. So really, I’m technically sixty five percent Lao and thirty five percent Viet because of my Mom. To add to the confusion, my grandma lived with us growing up and would speak to me in Vietnamese while simultaneously my parents would speak to me in Lao. I’m the only cousin out of seventeen on my Dad’s side that can speak both Lao and Viet. It could get really tricky speaking three languages at home!
It would always bother my Dad when I said I was Vietnamese because he didn’t want me to not know about my Mom’s roots and where he grew up. It was nice visiting my family’s home country to see where they lived and grew up. I also enjoyed eating the traditional food and being able to speak the native language even though I have an American accent! It wasn’t until recently did I have a better appreciation for both cultures.
You can see the entire city in two days, but we really took our time to take it all in.
Where: Vientiane, Laos