FIRST WEEKS IN SAIGON & THINGS ABOUT VIETNAM


It's been two weeks since we first arrived to Ho chi Mihn city (better known as Saigon). We feel very comfortable and happy to be here, the locals are very lovely! We are volunteering as English teachers in a language school/homestay; we live with the students, so it's a constant exchange in terms of language, culture, habits... We are learning so much!


The other teachers are from the Philippines, England, Myanmar and Kazakhstan. So we make a nice international team! They have been very helpful and welcoming since the beginning.  We think it's very beneficial for the students to hear so many different accents from all over the world in one place.  It's more realistic this way, because there is not one correct accent in the world and you need to learn to adapt depending where you are.






We have been very lucky to be in a quiet area in District 9. There is a lot of green, it's quiet and yet there are shops, restaurants and everything you need. Our street is a dead end, so it's very calm and no traffic passing by.

Our lovely street

The neighborhood

Beautiful message in District 9

We have already found some vegan places to eat close to the school, and we go there once or twice a week. These places are run by Buddhist families who follow a vegan diet. They serve a big variety of vegan "meat" that looks and taste like it, but it's all vegan! The price is really amazing too: around 70 cents for a soup and a plate of rice, veggies and vegan protein. Wow!
If you want to go out, look for the word "Chay", which means vegetarian/vegan.  A big thanks to our good friend Antonia for teaching us this word :)



And we also found a second hand shop, our kryptonite!! It's right next to one of the vegan restaurants, so if we want to have a perfect day, we know exactly where to go. The shop has a lot of clothes, for both men and women, and all kinds of Converse shoes. The prices are great, like always in Asia :) We found a few cool things to buy. The "problem" I found is that the clothes here are made for asians, naturally, and my body is wider and bigger than the asian bodies; so what looks super cute and nice on them, doesn't always look that nice on me... 





One day we went with the students to visit the University of Technology and Education. Manuel played football with the students and the other teachers, while I went to do a tour around the school with the teacher from Myanmar, Amie, and some of our students. The Campus is very big and green, with areas to eat, to rest and many courts to practice different sports. They definitely like being active!





And here are some facts about vietnamese that we have learned during our short stay. Shocking, surprising and fun. Most of them are also found in other asian countries :

1. Motorbike it is. Hundreds of motorbikes take the streets every day. It's the main vehicle of transport and it's crazy to see how skilled they are at driving and how, for lack of a better word, safe they make it look. The first days was a bit overwhelming and stressful; now we are used to it!





2. Meal schedule: breakfast is around 8, lunch at 11 (or 12 the latest) and dinner at 18. Very different from the Spanish and American schedule, but I really like it. The first days I was feeling hungry between meals, but now I'm used to it and it feels great to leave so many hours between dinner and breakfast, it's like an intermediate fasting. 

3. Avoiding the sun at all cost. Vietnamese, like all other asians, try very hard to protect themselves from the sun, not to avoid being burned but to keep their skin white. They don't want to have dark skin. So shocking, when you think that all the Spanish want to do is lay down on the beach and get tanned! In the supermarkets they sell "whitening cream". 
It was 30 degrees outside!

    4. Dog on the menu. We knew some asian countries cook dogs, but we never saw dog meat before... There is a restaurant close to the school and they have dogs in a cage; sometimes they display the meat on a grill... oops...

    5. Noodles/rice for breakfast. In Vietnam they don't have cereal, toast or any of the breakfasts we are used to. They treat breakfast like any other meal, so rice with veggies (or even meat) is normal for them. For us it can be hard to have a bowl of noodles at 8am... I usually skip breakfast and I only have a cup of tea; my body is still working in Spanish time, so I'm not hungry at all when I wake up. 

    6. School etiquette. They find it rude to go to class in shorts, so we have to wear long pants, jeans or whatever that covers until the ankles. The students even complained about the attire being too informal for some of the teachers, which definitely shocked us! Luckily the rooms have fans or a/c! It's not ideal to teach in pants when it's 32 degrees outside, but we are getting used to it. 

    More Vietnamese adventures coming soon!




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