Anthony Bourdain has had a love affair with Vietnam for years, and its reckoning day may have come.
He recently returned to Vietnam in No Reservations, planning to get serious about fulfilling his dream to spend a year there. He hinted on his blog it would begin in 2010.
Now he’s left me wondering if he can go through with it.
Vietnamese lifestyle and his new roles as husband and father seem to have put him between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Tony’s house-hunt began in Hoi An, the sort of laid-back locale he loves.
It turned him into Tonylocks.
The first house he found was a hovel, with an open fire for a stove and primitive bathroom facilities – an accident scene waiting to happen to daughter Ariane, who would be about 3. Tony admitted the place would have his wife in tears, but declared if he were single, he’d love to live there.
The next home was sumptuous, with modern, Western-style amenities galore – its only drawback a culinary school teeming with detested foodies just across a picturesque bridge.
Tony claimed the home was beyond his price point. But if he could afford such air-conditioned splendor, complete with indoor plumbing, could he still be enchanted by the scenic vistas around him of the locals toiling in rice paddies and living in near-squalor?
I think not.
Tonylocks never found the house that was “just right,” returning to bustling Saigon with the issue seemingly unresolved.
Sitting on a curb, he restated his devotion to everything Vietnamese, yet there seemed an unspoken subtext: “I’m never going to get Ottavia to go for this.”
For the second time in his life, I’m afraid Bourdain may be faced with choosing between satisfying his wanderlust (and a book deal) by going it alone while his wife and child live elsewhere in comfort, or putting family first and accepting that Vietnam’s a nice place to visit, but he’ll never live there.
My guess is that he’ll choose the latter, he’ll write a different book, and he’ll get over it. He knows better than anyone there are plenty of breathtaking spots in the world where he and his family could thrive. Italy, for one.
As this plays out, I wish the Bourdains the best and hope they find a way for everyone to live happily ever after.