Mar 19, 2013

First Three Days

For the next two months, this blog will mostly contain my travels around Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and probably Laos. I'll try to write something once in a while mostly for my own sake since even though I brought a journal/diary, I find it more natural to record my experiences through a blog. Also, I promised my friends that I'll write about this Eat, Pray, Love adventure as inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's novel.

I arrived in Vietnam last Sunday at around 12:40am but since my host won't be able to pick me up until 8:00am the next day, I had to sleep in the airport! (I was eventually picked up at 9:00am) It took me a while to find a good spot. I went to the third floor where there are empty sofas from some restaurants and settled myself there, with my luggage tucked under my seat. I was only able to sleep for around a total of 2 hours since the mosquitoes were feasting on me.

I'm staying on the 10th floor of a condominium. I am currently living with a family of three brothers. Their parents went back to their home town the night I arrived so that made me feel more comfortable, haha! The only concern is the language barrier since it's a bit difficult to understand their English with that strong Vietnamese accept. Most people here also don't know how to speak English so it's really a challenge, especially when commuting to where I'm supposed to teach.

Speaking of transportation, most people here have their own motorcycles. Buses and taxis are the common public transportation, while there are few cars since Man (the name of my host) told me that tax on vehicles is around 300% of the original price. I usually ride the motorcycle to get around the city.

For my first afternoon in Vietnam, I was glad that Man took me to see the Notre Dame Cathedral and other landmarks near it. It was Sunday so I was glad that I was able to pray inside the church. As much as I want to attend the mass, I won't be able to understand what they're saying since it's in Vietnamese. Surprisingly, some of the architecture in that square look more Western / European than Asian. It might have come from the strong influence of the French.

The next day, Man took me to the Reunification Palace where the president of Vietnam used to live. I was able to see some of the war rooms used during the Vietnamese-American War. I'll try to post the photos in my next blog.

My real purpose here is to teach English to young kids in an orphanage. The introduction/briefing won't start until this afternoon so I had loads of free time to get around Saigon (or now known as Ho Chi Minh) City. Maybe in the next few blogs, I'll tell you some stories of my teaching experience with kids who have zero idea on the English language. 

Enjoy the pictures!

The next three pictures are from Saigon's post office. Aside from sending postcards / snail mail, you can buy souvenirs here as well. 

The last picture is the view from my room on the 10th floor. And straight ahead, basing from the GPS of my tablet, is where Manila is. Whenever I miss home, I just look at that direction.

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