30 August, 2006
Wow! I love being in this city! I had a fun conversation whilst on the back of a motorbike this morning, with the driver who spoke very good English, relatively:
him: how long you here?
me: five days! nam!
him: oh ho ho, new arrival.
me: yes! I like Vietnam!
him: you like now; you here five days!
me: oh, good point.
So yeah, I guess I should say I love it here so far. Today I was the bravest of all days yet, and I took the morning off (Grandma is taking over on ironing duty today, which is fine with me; I'm the nanny, man) and ventured into the city center which is fancy fancy land. I mean, Saigon IS the largest city in SE Asia, right? There are haute couture boutiques and towering gleaming brand name castles and all kinds of big history-of-communism tourist spots. But that's where I knew I was guaranteed to find an ATM, which I needed badly. I was down to my last few thousand dong. Plus I had a few things to pick up, so off I went on my own, grabbing rides, making change, holding my head up high (just in case I looked like frightened easy prey). So once I had a few hundred thousand stashed away in my bag (about $60), I caught a ride to Ben Thanh, the huge market thatI was taken to last saturday, which now doesn't seem half as scary. It's funny to me how it's organized. There are these tiny aisles you have to squeeze through and on one side you've got embroidered handbags and on the other side, plastic tubs of picked fish parts. Then next to that you've got the handcarved wooden goodies, then you've got the pig legs and sides of beef. So much stuff to look at!
I had a great time being not as shy anymore. I talked to people, negotiated deals, located streets, smiled at people, even stuck out my tongue at a little boy. And while on the roads I only got about half a pound of grit and diesel smoke in my eyes and lungs. My flatmate has started using an asthma inhaler and she's been here for 5 months. Uh oh. Well, this should help combat icky lungs: there is a yoga studio 2 blocks from where I work! we passed the street on my way in this morning, which means it's between my house and the kids' house!!! This makes me immensley happy. The teacher is a westerner and has a vietnamese partner who is going to pick me up on his motorbike tomorrow night and take me to my first class (for free). If I like it, I can drop in again or purchase a package, but it's western prices- $10 a class! That's a lot of money. We'll see if it's worth it.
So my day is only half over: I'm venturing out again to try to find a place to get my nails done (hey, why not).
Also: had a traditional Vietnamese breakfast today of hot beef soup (pho bo) and mmmm, it was so, so good. The clear noodles and lime juice and basil leaves and bean sprouts in beef broth is just so satisfying. If you live near a Vietnamese resteraunt, go get some.
Deals of the Day:
-$9 for an electric kettle (not that great of a deal but they were hard core bargainers and I was getting tired)
-.64 cents for a bag full of fresh garlic heads
-$8 for a set of golden silk sheets (my current ones don't fit)
-.64 again for two bottles of my favorite green tea (pictured above)
not great, but not at all bad. I'm going out tonight cause my flatmate is leaving for Bangkok for the weekend, so she's going to take me out to a bar. It's about time!
at 1:26 AM