31 August, 2006

Thoughts and actions

Since I've gone out the last two mornings, shopping for things like sheets and basic pantry items, I decided that today I would stay in and clean the common areas of my apartment building. It's really a house with the rooms rented out, so I'll say I stayed home to clean my house. The kitchen was SO gross. I swept up a big roach, which was lying on it's back twiddling it's legs and when I swept it, it righted itself and ran (as roaches do) straight towards my roachless toes. Well, that sucker was no match for my straw broom, lemme tell ya. Also there was a whole shelf consisting of millions of little mouse droppings. In order to get hot water out of the tap, you have to turn on the red light on the wall, which I did, but after waiting a few minutes, still no hot water. So I am cleaning with cold water. At least we have soap by the sink... oh wait, it's baby shampoo! Well, I suppose I came here in part to challenge my western ideas, so whatever. I keep finding myself living in these big communal houses, and cleaning this one feels much like cleaning the old Bee Tree house in Swannanoa. Whose is this? I wonder to myself as I sift through random shoes, papers, dusty cardboard boxes, and things molding in jars. But now the kitchen is looking much better and I am celebrating with a bowl of Grape Nuts, one of my favorite things back home. I tell you, the people you spend time with have a large influence on what becomes a favorite: before I met Kenny, grape nuts and metamucil never would have entered my shopping cart. But now I crave them.

So at yoga class last night, I met Nicky, the blond New Zealander instructor, and her partner Minh, who is Vietnamese-Canadian. They met here about three years ago and are 10- weeks away from having their 1st child. Entering their home/studio last night was the closest thing to coming home that I've felt since I arrived in Asia. I just wanted to curl up and stay there. I'm so glad to have found them, not only because they are minutes from my house and work but also because they are lovely, funny people who have stores of knowledge regarding living in Saigon. I was looking around at their cool old motorbikes (vintage!) their beautiful, simply decorated house, and their fun little neighborhood street and thought, "wow- it is possible to move here and create a life for yourself." I admit, the living is easy. Most things are cheap, transportation is easy, the language is fun to learn, and you can do pretty much whatever you want to do (as long as it's not translating essays on Democracy, as I learned from the BBC) because it's a huge city and there's something for all walks of life. Last night I also met an Aussie and a French woman and I'm going out with the girls tonight-- truly my first time since my flatmate was busy earlier this week.

My sheets are golden silk and I really like them. I've never been one for silk but for some reason, since it's so plentiful here, I'm digging it. My parents' birthdays (all 3) are coming up in the next month or so, which means it's time for me to figure out how to post things home without them being "lost."

Also, I've been starting to think about the fact that yes, things are cheaper here but I also have to consider that I'm being paid a Vietnamese salary (well, it's closer to that than an American salary) so I have to think about some sort of saving strategy. So far I've been recording all my expenses on a sheet of grid paper, and I'm not happy with how much I've spent this week. It's not a lot, and I know that it's the first week and I needed to get set up and find things and buy the things I didn't have that I needed (towels, sheets, some food, etc). But I think I might try to buy a bicycle. The trip to work and back is very short on a motorbike, so if I left 10 minutes earlier I might be able to save that $1.50 each day by biking it. Not until I have a few paychecks under my pillow will I think about buying a used motorbike. But it does seem like something worth thinking about, especially once Kenny gets here...

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