Vietnam: The Top 10 Lessons I Learned From Traveling with My Parents’ Friends . . .

Dear Lunch Table,

My mom’s 50th birthday was on February 11th. And if you’ve been following along to my string of rambling posts, you’ll know that 11 of my mom’s good friends were celebrating in Vietnam with us. It’s been an amazing, crazy-fun experience. This quote is the best way to sum it all up:

“A good friend bails you out of jail, but a best friend is sitting next to you saying, ‘damn, that was fun.”

** Drum Roll ** Here are the top 10 lessons I learned from my parents’ friends:

1: Celebrate Small Deeds. - Friends allow you to be proud of all of your accomplishments, both big and small. They aren’t afraid to clap and whistle when your accomplishment is small, and they’re happy to start dancing when your triumph is rather large.

Congrats George! We’re so proud of you.

2: “You are so beautiful.” You really are. - There are a lot of possible explanations for a great friendship. Laughter is one of them. Being able to gracefully accept yourself as the brunt of a joke is an amazing trait and being able to humorously give it back to your friend never hurts.

In a restaurant in Saigon, I ordered from the menu (yes, from the menu) for our waiter to go up to Sue (pictured above) and tell her how beautiful she was all night long. Ha ha ha . . . It took Sue a while, but she finally got it. That joke – priceless. Any moment revenge may come . . . Any moment.

3: Eat the crocodile. Eat it. – Even without knowing, friends encourage you to dive into a world of chances, convincing you to become a gamer – a learner of the world.

On a dare, Soren (a teen like me) confidently chomped down some crocodile as a room full of friends cheered her on. Her prize? A Facebook page. Oooh! Friend me!

4: When with Giant Fans, Don’t Cheer for the Patriots. - Of course, friends accept you for who you are, but then there are things that make you friends. Embrace these passions. That’s what makes friendships special.

Yippee! The Giants WON!

5: Act Like Monkeys. - It’s better to be crazy than be nothing at all. Besides there’s a good crazy and then there’s the weird crazy. Be the good crazy.

The General racing on the monkey bridge . . .

6: Leave in Style. - There will always be experiences that aren’t up your alley. Be a gamer, but if it’s making you uncomfortable, friends will understand if you don’t join in. But if you do leave, make your exit memorable.

Not pictured: Our large party boat

7: Be Competitive. Always. - Contrary to popular belief, NEVER, yes, I mean never, let your opponent win. Being yourself, competitive, fiery, and spirit flaring is not necessarily a bad thing. Friends get it. But when (if) you do lose, it’s okay. Pull a George (pout), and then your friends will buy you some “Welcome” drinks. But seriously, be yourself.

Ping-pong competition: After a few hours of sweaty hands, trash talking, a few tears, and some thrown rackets (a consequence of losing), we had ourselves a winner, who was not me. Darbinator (my lunch table buddy): do not say, “Go figure.” Do not. Do not. Do not. I will beat you when I come back . . .

8: Don’t be Afraid To Scream, “Wa Wa.” - If you can ride down a Vietnam dirt road, helmet lopsided, a goofy smile plastered on your face, and all the while screaming “Wa Wa” (on your left) to your friend, you’re pretty much bonded for life.

9: Blame it on a Reflex. - Reflexes happen. And to be honest, it’s perfectly okay. Take Robin and the crocodile. The creepy tail of the crocodile moving swiftly through the water, eyes peering murderously through the foggy water, and “BOO” it thrashes it’s mouth at the fence, my dad’s face now smashed between the metal gate and Robin’s hand. Ah, yes, Mr. Crocodile, take my dad first, not Robin of course. But all is forgiven. Reflexes happen.

Hola Señor Crocodile.

10:  Be the Happy Family. - When you and your friends are laughing, running through a field of flowers, being gamers, it rubs off on the world. And honestly, the world needs people who often break out and dance when there is music playing. Even if the music is off in the distance.

Dance like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously, dance.

Lunch Table: I miss you guys! I hope when we’re all 50 we hang out and party somewhere. Perhaps Antarctica?

I miss you guys,


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About KJ

I, KJ Davidson-Turner, have willingly given up the trauma and drama of Junior year and my lovely friends at the lunch table (I'm going to miss you guys!) to travel to unknown areas of the world and experience the cultures of these unfamiliar places.

16 Responses to “Vietnam: The Top 10 Lessons I Learned From Traveling with My Parents’ Friends . . .”

  1. KJ, that was a very gracious way to be excused for potentially sacrificing your dad to a horrible death. In my defense, my child is younger than his (you and Cal), and you guys have demonstrated that you are capable of fending for yourself while traveling all over the world. Soren is just getting started: she still needs me!

  2. Awesome KJ! And no one should forget Van’s words of wisdom: “Happy wife– happy life!” I think your dad figured out that one a long time ago!!!

  3. What a cool blog. Have we told you lately that you are a beautiful person just like Sue?

    I wish I had been able to stay for that ping pong tourney. Who won?

    George’s fish was really a winner because it did not get eaten.

    • Hi Gina!
      Wait. So, does that mean you’re joking when you call me a beautiful person?
      Sue won – no comment.
      I’m with you. George’s fish was an absolute winner. It wasn’t a whale, but it was a winner . . .
      Thank you!

    • Thank you for asking the $64,000 question Gina. I’ve been waiting for someone to ask, for crying out loud!

  4. Hey KJ,
    again, what a wonderful blog! I am happy to know that I wasn’t prominently featured in any of your top 10 lessons learned!!!!!
    Keep up the great blogging, I look forward to each and every one! It’s nice to see all your pictures also!

  5. Wait! The whole “you’re soooo beautiful” thing was a joke?!!! Whaaaat?!!!

  6. I love your blog KJ. A funny picture of the whale of a fish too but am so much more impressed by your maturity and insight! This is an awesome blog.

    Okay – but I would like to exchange the word “pout” with disgruntled or disgusted with myself. Having been on a losing streak all day, pout seems to express a over-reaction response at a minor discomfort or setback. Losing in this crowd is not minor.

    Graciously yours,

  7. What a wonderful and colorful blog! A (very) belated happy birthday to your mom from us. We miss you all and hope you come back to Sarasota soon!

    Muriel Redifer

  8. KJ, when we’re 50… Antarctica won’t know what hit it. :) Miss you and see you soon!

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