It was a Thursday when I meet Mr. Hoang, who helped me learn Vietnamese while I was in Danang.
I met Mr. Hoang through Couch Surfing. His apartment was located in the southern part of Danang, which was where I wanted to visit. And he responded very quickly. So, I was very happy to choose to stay with him.
After I placed my things in my room, explained to Mr. Hoang that I wanted to learn to speak Vietnamese. He loved the idea and wanted to help. He offered to plan several outings, so I could practice the Vietnamese as we explore the beautiful city.
The first time he took me to the noodle shop around the corner was a Saturday night. There were many people. We would return to that shop many times later as the Pho there was delicious.
Another place Mr. Hoang took me several times was a small park within walking distance of his house. There was a pond with grass and trees. It always seemed very quiet to me. He taught me nature words in that park. And I asked him words about peace.
Only once did we take a bus together. Mr. Hoang did not like those buses, but I used them many times to explore the city and the white sand beaches. During the trip we took together, we practiced words related to travel. Some of those words were invaluable to me later.
There was one time when I became lost. I was still inside Danang, but I felt I was far outside of the neighborhood where Mr. Hoang lived. Everything had a slightly different look.
My GPS device was not with me. I was trying to ask for directions the way Mr. Hoang had taught me, but nobody was understanding me. Luckily I was able to call Mr. Hoang with my old Nokia phone. I put him on the phone with my Xe Om driver. It turned out I was just around he corner from Mr. Hoang’s home.
There are many things I learned from Mr. Hoang. He introduced me to many places, people and experiences. I was able to meet his family, see the places where he studied as a child, and try many of his favorite foods. I like to think that he learned some from me as well.
Sometimes as we sat in a nearby coffee shop (Vietnamese love coffee) watching the rain, I would tell him about my life and travel. I showed him photos of my family, practicing the words for mother, father and sister. He would aks me questions about my life and about my country.
The Cafe Sua Da at the coffee was tasty. Mr. Hoang had his without sugar. I preferred mine sweet. Looking back it was the company I preferred more than the coffee.
I continue to practice Vietnamese with Mr. Hoang. He is a close friend now and I hope to return to Danang and visit him someday again.