Women in their traditional conical hats…

Noisy boat engines…

Tourists snapping photos…

Vendors flinging fruits and vegetables…

When I visited Ho Chi Minh City last May 2015, I had the opportunity to witness how the local people of Cai Be Village live their life. It was such a humbling and an eye-opening experience. Because of this exposure, I got to appreciate more the value of being grateful for the life that one lives.

What Happened During this Trip

With other tourists, we cruised along one of the world’s longest river, the Mekong Delta River. The water was arrayed with big boats and the area is famous as a busy floating market where wholesale trades happen.


We reached the place at around 11 in the morning so we did not get to see the trades happening. The tour guide told us that the best time to come and observe is early morning. The merchants here sell for a minimum quantity of 100 kilos. The boats contain crops such as fruits, spices, and vegetables. Some merchants even live in these boats and make it as their home. I spotted many floating boat houses and some families who live in it.

We had a stopover at the Cai Be Village and I saw how hardworking the residents are. They engage in different ways of livelihood to support their needs. They showed us how the local products are made such as the Rice Pop, Durian Candies, Rice Paper, Rice Wine, Honey Jelly, and the famous Cobra Liquor.

We went to the next part of the village by a small boat. It was terribly hot at that time and I salute the old lady who rowed our boat enthusiastically. We stopped at a small diner and we were greeted by a music performance from a lovely couple. Although, I could not understand the message of the song, I felt their eagerness to welcome us and make us feel comfortable.

What Inspired Me

Before this trip, I had a not so pleasant experience at work which really affected my disposition these past few days. On the way back to the city, I could not help but reflect about life. All the people  I encountered in Ho Chi Minh City during my 3-days-stay were hard working and determined individuals. I did not see them lazying around and even the elderly work. This trip made me re-think about living a frugal and simple life. If there are people in this world who can smile despite their odd work, then, I should smile more. If there are elders who are still productive despite their age, then, I should plan how to spend my old days purposefully.

Indeed, it was a humbling experience to witness how other people can be level-headed about their life and can simply live with what they can afford. It is so easy to complain and blurt out a negative view about day-to-day matters that sometimes it makes it so hard to be content and be happy.

What I Intend to Do

With this newfound awareness, I have decided to practice gratitude in my daily affairs. Amidst difficult situations at work, I will look for something to be thankful about. I don’t want to stretch myself too much and then expect too much as well. Expectations rob us of enjoying the littlest details in our surroundings such as the morning breeze, smell of sauteed garlic, or the long walk to the office cubicle.

I intend to simply give the best that I can in everything I do and feel that I am doing enough. Also, I will compliment what others do, especially, if I see that they have exerted their best, too. Although I am aware that there will be days when I don’t feel like being thankful, I will acknowledge the good in everything I experience. I will stop focusing on what I lack and direct my attention on what I have now.

Indeed, travel can introduce to us a new mentality and approach in life. Ho Chi Minh, thank you for making me more aware of my surroundings. Thank you for teaching me to be more grateful, more appreciative, and happier. Thank you!

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