10th and 11th November
10/11/2013 - 11/11/2013 34 °C
Wow, so I am three days and absolutely loving it here. And so much has already happened.
My first official day in Ho Chi Minh City on sunday (10th) after failing to sleep in to beat being in New Zealand time- 6hrs ahead, I ventured off to the find a supermarket. All the packaging being in Vietnamese made it interesting especially when I found so many new products. But like everything in Vietnam it was hustling with people and navigating through the people was a nightmare. I stand much taller than the regular Vietnamese, plus carrying my backpack and shopping basket I felt like a clumsy giant, having to awkwardly maneuver through everyone. I thought I should support the NZ Dairy Industry when I found their product.
When I got the meat section, it was self serve, so you could pick how much of each you would take. It did not seem that hygienic as it was hardly being chilled in the soaring temparture and the smell was intense.
My shopping cost me less than $20 NZD so it is amazing the value of money over here.
I am yet to find out what that fruit is called. Some sort of Guava maybe?
It was a stupid move going to the Supermarket first because I then was off to the Reunification Palace and had to carry my shopping for the day. The Reunification Palace represents the South Vietnamese Government and its architecture makes it one of the grandest buildings in HCMC.
Made of 6 floors- 2 underground, it tells an introductory story to the Vietnam War and what occured in Saigon, the resistance of the South and the influence and aid of the Americans. The grand meeting rooms for the President with visitors and the entertainment floor.
The underground floors was where the work occured in the war, with phone lines connecting straight to the US Embassy and Washington. This photos show the support of Allies, New Zealand being Tan Tay Lan.
The bomb shelter was built when the Palace was rebuilt after being bombed in an attempt to kill the President.
The vehicle is the replica of the one used by the President to surrender to the Revolutionary Govt.
That afternoon the AIESEC local committee had organised a Vietnamese Language class. I got my first motorbike ride on the roads here when Hao, being driven by her mum picks us up. So it was the three of us, and mum don't worry everyone wears helmets here- and they cannot get very fast because there is so much traffic.
The other interns, Anna (Poland), Pjotr (The Netherlands) and Ish (The Philippines) and the local members participated although I was not very good. The Vietnamese language has 12 tones I learnt and this means that the same spelt word can have different meaning depending on how you say it. So musical. We learnt basic food and drinks and how to buy or order them -but have hardly remembered them. I got to try Sweet soup- Che, Green Bean and Black Bean flavours and I am still not sure what I think, the taste is very strange.
I start teaching on Tuesday so I had Monday free as well. I had set a plan to visit Ben Tanh Market and sorted the bus route and the stations as I thought it would be good to sort catching the buses before having to go to work.
Jayden, you are going to love this story, it is exactly like the bus we caught somewhere in Sydney that took us nowhere close to where we wanted to go and then it poured with rain.
Anyway, I am still quite disorientated with directions, simply because apart from the road I live on, I cannot remember the other ones, they are all at least three words long. So I headed off and quickly realised I was heading in the wrong direction but since it is a residential area and everywhere people are sitting on the streets so it really seems like "I Spy the Foreigner". So instead of turning around making it obvious I was lost I tikitoured around the block and got to where I needed to be. I had to catch the 65 bus, so I waited and got on and paid etc. When I was planning I saw that the bus ride was only about 2kms, so I waited out approx that distance and got ready for the bus got to the market which was the last stop and the bus would stop. It never came. I checked my location on my phones GPS and quickly realised I had got on the right bus, but was on the wrong side of the road, therefore I was about 4km in the opposite direction. Oh Crap. I thought it was pretty hilarious. I did not want to lose face, so I simply got off at the next station and started walking down one of the streets of the main highway. To put it simply, I was "somewhere in Vietnam", lol but no idea where.
On my walk, I passed a lovely family who was sitting on the street having a drink, I bought a drink from them and sat with them and tried to speak with the little English they knew. The two brothers, the wife and three children, explained how to get where I needed to and were fascinated with New Zealand, in the end they offered to drive (on motorbike) the 10kms.
They say do not talk to strangers, but in Vietnam that is everyone. This family is a prime example of the lovely people in this country.
Ben Tanh market is madness, I have experienced markets in the Pacific with the wooden handicrafts etc, but here, probably like all Asian countries they are masters of making replicas. My first rookie mistake though was buying at the first stall I came to, but they ended up fitting perfectly and beats the Glassons version I bought for $29 where these are less than $5. The market shopkeepers all know the same pestering words. "Miss, I help you", "Want you want", "I give you good price", "What price you want", "Miss let me help you", and of course the line "I have big size" haha.
In the afternoon I ventured off to the War Remnants Museum and it was amazing but incredibly sickening. On my way, I passed the first police officer carrying a weapon. That gave me a fright, being by myself, something you do not see in New Zealand. The Musem is a must-see for anyone who knows anything about the war and the horror stories of what both parties did.
The stories you learn of what occured, the inhuman events and the consequences. If you can zoom in on the photos you can read the captions.
New Zealand and almost every other country in the world was represented by their anti-war protests.
Ruby and Fady, if you are reading this check out the view from the Nuremburg Trials. I though that was pretty cool to learn, so relevant to what we studied.
At my accomodation, two girls from Hanoi have moved in next door, Hang and Hanh. Doctor and Nurse they are completing the studies in HCMC in optometry, They were heading out to find dinner and invited me along. Hang speaks pretty good English so she was the middle person. Being Vietnamese, they knew where to eat and we found a place selling a Saigon-only noodle soup dish. We sat at the tiny table on the street and of course my legs were to long and could not fit under the table. (Step 1 to look like a dork). We were served and I saw that it is eaten with chopsticks and a spoon. I am okay with chopsticks, but using a spoon as well means that the chopsticks go in the right hand - a tad difficult for a lefty. (step 2). But it was delicious and beats Mee Goreng 2min Noodles anyday.
I will tell you what I mean about how lovely the people are, I went to pay and they tell me it was their treat and they had already sorted it. Talked about it in Vietnamese. The night before, when I was out grabbing dinner, I walked in and the only English speaker was a older Vietnamese man who lives in the US now and invited me to join him. And again I went to settle the bill and it was already paid for. Even though the NZD equivalent was only about $2.50.
Starbucks is newly opened in HCMC and it is the only place in Vietnam, so feeling quilty the girls had paid for me, I got them there first frappucino.
Got called Rihanna as they could not hear the BRE.
You see some interesting sights when wandering, like the Catholic female only church service outside occuring in the middle of the public area.
or the pump bikes which you use you arms not legs
or the number of drivers being able to sleep like this on their bikes
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