One of the most important things for me whenever I get the chance to travel is getting into the vibe of the place I’m visiting. And what best way to do this than to people-watch! People-watching is something I find really entertaining to do. There’s no specific time of day (or night) to do it and you can actually do it anywhere. It’s harmless. It’s free! The only important thing to remember is don’t creep anyone out when you do this. 🙂
People-watching is not a hobby, for me at least! It isn’t something I always do when I have free time. And as I have mentioned, I just usually do it when I travel. I don’t plan when and where to people-watch, it just happens. Whether I’m on a street stall trying out different street foods, or when I drink in bars (or in the streets, too), in a park or even just when I’m sitting by the window of the hotel/hostel I’m staying in or more often in cafes. It mostly happens when I’m alone, though I must say, it’s really fun people-watching with friends. People-watching lets us see the beauty of people, whether as a group, as a couple or as an individual. If you’re lucky enough, you even get to see the details in a person. And so far for me, Vietnam is the best place to people-watch. Tourists either amazed or disgusted seeing things for the first time, locals on their daily routines, women in micro-mini skirts and sky-high heels riding scooters/motorbikes, persuasive (and aggressive) vendors, unusual street performers, school boys and girls either tired or brimming with joy that school is over.
What happened one Friday in January though was a first for me. I went to the airport, sat in a coffee shop and started reading. I’ve been trying to concentrate on my book for half an hour but some noise outside the coffee shop was bothersome. So I gave up. Since I’ve been trying to use my phone mainly for calling and texting, I opted not to use it and decided to just people-watch. I don’t really people-watch here. Seriously, I don’t know why but it doesn’t interest me. But then I ordered another cup of black coffee, a cinnamon roll and started people-watching.
Fifteen minutes later, I got bored. Nothing seems to catch my attention. So I ate my cinnamon roll instead. I was about to go back to my reading when a couple around their late 20’s came in. They were in the counter for like 15 minutes and I think they’ve already asked the barista every single type of coffee served there. I can clearly see how annoyed the tired-looking barista was already specially when they ended up ordering just two cups of American coffee. 🙂 The guy on the table beside mine smirked after hearing them order and muttered to me, “Finally, two American coffee!” I didn’t notice he was also observing them. We ended up chatting about the couple, coffee and books until he finally joined me on my table.
We continued to people-watch until a group of young guys arrived but just stood in front of the cafe, according to my companion (I’m not sure whether he mentioned his name or if I asked but I don’t really remember actually, I just know he asked mine), they were still waiting for one more friend and that the other friend prefers to go to Starbucks. They were speaking in Arabic in husky voices (so I didn’t really understand what they were talking about) and they were all wearing sweatpants and hoodies. One of the youngsters was wearing black-framed glasses and has curly black hair. The other two looked daft and arrogant. I didn’t notice them leave but my new friend whose name I didn’t get to know said they’ve decided to go to Starbucks.
My attention is now on an Asian woman sitting across our table, alone and very busy with her phone. Obviously, she’s going on vacation. She had her hair dyed and permed, her nails painted bloody red and she seems to be wearing all her jewelries. Haha! Then suddenly her phone rang. (I’m pretty sure even the people on the other side of the airport heard her phone ring! 😀 ) And her voice was like a foghorn, believe me. It’s too loud. I didn’t quite understand what she was saying because of the dialect she’s using but I’m pretty sure she’s angry. My new friend said it isn’t the first time she saw women like that in the airport so it doesn’t surprise him anymore. I kept my mouth shut. 🙂
I decided to leave a few minutes later to meet with some friends and we ended up hearing mass. I haven’t visited the church here since 2009 and I honestly didn’t feel quite comfortable, I don’t know why. So I ended up eyeballing the people around me. The middle-aged couple in front of us kept on giggling for reasons we didn’t know. Sitting beside one of my friends was a plump lady who looks like in her late thirties was busy texting, smiling from time to time. I was surprised when she suddenly started taking selfies. An elderly man sitting at the back-most pew was dozing off. A woman leaning sideways to one of the pillars of the church seems to be staring blankly faraway. The mass ended and I didn’t understand a thing about the sermon. We waited for a while for the crowd to lessen before we went out. Just a few steps from the church’s main door was a Christmas tree where people, young and old, were trying to strike a pose. Children running around while screaming. Babies crying. People talking loudly. It didn’t feel much like I was in church premises, really. I kind of felt like I’m in a market. With my experience that day in the church, people-watching also lets us recognize how much the world has changed.
We later went to the fish market. I told my friends that I’m just gonna wait for them outside because I don’t feel like going around there. I sat in a bench munching some chips. There were two guys talking near where I’m sitting. Both of them were tall, well-built, have beards and were wearing hoodies. One of them has a small, tribal sun tattoo on his left hand. I was about to turn my attention to something else when I heard one of them say, “I want to go back to Baguio.” My ears started to burn upon hearing this so I paid closer attention to them. Not only was I people-watching, I was also attentively eavesdropping. 🙂 I was pretty much able to hear nice and new things about Baguio and it made me really happy because Baguio is actually my hometown. So see, people-watching is a very informative activity, too. Haha!
People-watching is an entertaining thing to do really but I’d still prefer sticking my head on a book. But that Friday didn’t seem to be a good day to read thus I turned into a passive observer watching life go by. And now that I’ve tried it here, would I do it again? Maybe yes. Or maybe not again.
I’d be glad to hear your stories about people-watching, too, feel free to write them in the comment section.
Happy day, homo sapiens! 🙂