One of the most difficult but also most wonderful things about living abroad is that it makes you miss home. Missing family and friends is pretty obvious, but living in Vietnam for 2 and a half years now, I’ve realised I miss a lot of rather mundane things I hadn’t even considered before I left. With covid messing up my summer 2020 plans to visit home again, it’s now been 18 months since I was on UK soil, and it’s the home comforts I find myself missing.
Pre-covid, we’d all rely on whoever was next heading back to the UK on holiday to grab a few bits, but my stash of UK food has been practically at 0 for a while! And so, I’ve had a lot of time to miss a few things! Which is why I was thrilled to finally find out about a company that delivers items from the UK to Vietnam easily and relatively cheaply.
In December and January, a few parcels arrived (our first since moving here in August 2018!), stuffed with our favourite goodies from back home. A huge thank you to you wonderful people who sent them!
It’s amazing how I now realise what I took for granted – my home comforts. A late night wander to the corner shop for an emergency bar of Dairy Milk was a regular occurrence when we lived in Stamford. I’d hate going to supermarkets, yet now I’d jump at the chance to go to one. A whole shop, dedicated to pleasing the masses with a huge range of everything! Vegan sausages – oh I miss you, so much so that we ended up paying £10 for a pack of 6 for Christmas Day!
Yes, you can get Dairy Milk here. But if you’ve never tried Asian Dairy Milk, you’re not missing much. It’s fine. Fine. But should chocolate be just ‘fine’? I think not. I sound hyperbolic, but I’m really not. Dairy Milk in the UK melts in the mouth, and that is just divine, right? That’s the whole POINT of it? Yet Dairy Milk (and most chocolates!) sold in Asia have to have some special agent (lol) inside to stop it from melting all over the shop (lol again – love how these puns are actually what I mean). Anyway, Asian Dairy Milk therefore does not melt. Not in shops – yay! But also not in your mouth – not so yay.
And yes, we have supermarkets. But they’re not as common, and they sell ‘weird’ things, that of course, aren’t weird. They’re perfectly normal, and if I had been able to understand more Vietnamese, if I weren’t vegetarian (and a picky one at that) and therefore limited, then I’d probably not see it as weird. But venturing into a Vietnamese supermarket is confusing to me. There are foods I don’t understand, and while of course I try to figure out what things are, it lacks the ease of a mooch around Sainsbury’s or the excitement of an Aldi middle aisle.
I digress. This post is, ultimately, a post about the sheer joy I felt upon opening a box containing a packet of sage and onion stuffing, the glee I experienced after popping my first Minstrel in 18 months into my mouth, the happiness I felt upon opening a new journal from my best friends (a feeling I can get every day when I write my gratitude in it)!
It’s a thank you to those people who sent things over to us. I know family were disappointed that things didn’t arrive for Christmas Day, but the delayed arrival meant it genuinely felt like we had two Christmases.
It’s about the bliss of having a cupboard full of our favourite snacks, but about now understanding what a treat these are. Instead of gobbling down a chocolate bar in 5 minutes, we’re rationing the squares, and appreciating every one. (It obviously has to be in the top cupboard to limit ease of access.)
And really, it’s about the warmth you feel when you open a card or a parcel sent from people you love. Cards are a big thing for me. I send them a lot. I used to design and sell them! So being in a place where cards from home just don’t seem to arrive* has been difficult. Of course, we all give and receive cards amongst my Hanoi pals, but coming home to a surprise on the doormat is such a lovely feeling that I’ve missed!
This time away from the UK has taught me a lot and I’ll go into that in future posts. But one of the unexpected lessons has been about not taking small things – my home comforts – for granted. I knew I’d miss my parents, my friends, my family, my car. I didn’t realise I’d miss Marmite* spread over my toast on a Sunday morning, getting home to a handwritten envelope pushed through the door, or that sweet, sweet taste of a square of Dairy Milk melting on my tongue.
What home comforts do you/would you miss if you lived abroad?
*Post CAN arrive and sometimes DOES arrive from overseas, but it’s not reliable
**Marmite is sometimes available here, at around £9 for a small jar, but it’s not been around for several months, presumably due to some covid kind of importing issue