So we've made it through our first week in this amazing new country! There's so much to talk about so I'll go by dates haha .
Sept 27th Sunday- Our Second Day
Brian and I woke up and walked down to a coffee place near our house. Brian had already been out and about more than I had and suggested we go see some sights! We went to the Notre Dame Cathedral here in HCMC. The french colonists built a smaller to scale version of the famous cathedral when they were occupying the country. Today it's a tourist spot and a spot for everyone to take their wedding photos apparently! We saw a lot of soon to be wed brides and grooms in their tuxes and gowns posing on the building.
I was still feeling a bit out of it and overwhelmed so we went and got lunch near the cathedral at a fancier place called Propaganda. We had a liter of their Saigon Saison (made in HCMC) and some amazing food! It was fun overhearing other expats conversations and the waitress practiced her conversational skills with me. After this lunch I was feeling much better. We went back to the apartment and relaxed for most of the evening.
Sept 28th Monday- Day Three
On Monday morning I had an interview with Compasss education to discuss when I would begin working with them. I went to their office by car around 10am and was seated and talked with them about requirements etc. They gave me a schedule of 12 classes a week 1st graders-3rd graders with 50 students per class!! I decided to decline their offer, i felt I wasn't going to be able to meet the needs of 50 first graders in the 30 minute class time I had been given.
On the way back home, I watched the traffic pass by and caught a great photo of something that happens often when women are heading to work in their work clothes: sitting "side saddle" as passengers on the motorbikes! I was amazed they're able to keep their balance so well in the traffic around here.
At home, I spent most of the day relaxing with Brian we wandered out in the afternoon to get lunch and ordered dinner in. A relatively quiet night.
Sept 30th Tuesday- Fourth Day
On Tuesday I started teaching my online classes pretty much all day with a 2 hour break for lunch. Before we arrived in Vietnam I was worried about making money when we got here and I had already been working for the online tutoring company based in Hanoi, sooo I gave myself a full schedule! I kind of regretted this throughout the week because it kept me from being able to explore the city more with Brian but I also was happy to be pulling in an income by chatting with students all day.
On my lunch break, we wandered around the neighborhood and ended up walking into a restaurant that was packed with business people on their breaks! The downstairs was empty but we were motioned upstairs to discover tables and tables of businesspeople drinking and eating to their hearts content. The servers seemed a little bewildered to have two foreigners there and quickly had to find where they'd stashed their english language menu. I ordered for us and accidentally ended up with french fries! They were delicious but i was hoping for something a bit more adventurous. Anyway we loved listening to the raucous heavy drinking lunch breakers and interacting with the friendly staff. It's become new lunch spot.
Heading back home, we stopped into a cafe that's just a few thousand feet from our apartment. It's modern and super super adorable! They have two fluffy cafe cats, affordable coffee, and are always playing old timey american country music. I haven't had much time to spend there but it'll be a perfect place to enjoy a cafe da (very strong drip coffee over ice that everyone drinks here) and read a book when I want to get out of the house.
I taught the rest of the day and also managed to secure an interview the next day with VUS a very well known and popular language center here!
Finally when I was finished we walked down to a beer garden that's also extremely close to our apartment! Beer gardens are insanely popular in Vietnam, the fancier ones will have waiters and waitresses dressed to some theme (with skimpy outfits for the girls) while quieter ones like the one in our neighborhood are just a good place to go drinking and have some small dishes to share with your friends. We accidentally ordered a beer tower (very popular here) and had to drink it all by ourselves. We also had some delicious noodles and some not so delicious to our foreign palettes pork belly soaked in their extremely strong fish sauce.
Sept 30th Wednesday- 5th day
On Wednesday, I woke up super early to go to my interview at VUS. I loved the school and the staff so I accepted the offer to do a demo class for them on Friday. I left VUS and did some more people watching from the back of cars, I saw this very impressive cafe (the second picture above) maybe I'll have to come back to the area to check it out. VUS's main office is located in an extremely dense and busy part of the city so it's kind of a pain to get there.
The rest of the day I spent teaching my online courses and when I was done Brian and I made another adventure into our surrounding neighborhood (we live in the Da Kao area) and found a very cute bbq place called The Street! There were groups of friends and families sharing hotpots and small portions of bbq'd meats. We shared three dishes chicken beef and pork and they were amazing! Halfway through our meal I looked down and realized why the restaurant is called "The Street" as you can see in the 4th photo it's actually built on a portion of an old road! (that's what the curbs, sidewalks,street markings and street lamps look like here) I felt silly for not catching on sooner to this.
Full and a bit tipsy we wandered back toward home and made one of our frequent stops to the corner convenience store. The convenience store is constantly full of kids from elementary to high school age. It's built right across the street from one of the schools in our area and if you ever go there during rush hour in the morning it's packed with kids grabbing snacks and canned coffees before running off to school. It seems strange maybe that a convenience store of all things would be a gathering place for younger kids but it's open 24/7 and I see them studying and hanging out there at all hours. A little part of our community.
Sept 31st Thursday- Sixth Day
Nothing much happened! I taught all day long and we had dinner at home.
Oct 1st Friday- Seventh Day
On Friday I had my demo class at 8am! So I rushed over to VUS's main offices and prepared my classroom. It went extremely well and I was offered a contract that day! I accepted and they helped me open a bank account and the director of the branch of the center I'll be teaching at will be reaching out to me next week! I am ecstatic to work for a company I feel will provide me with adequate support and guidance. As I was leaving my meetings, I ran into Brian downstairs before he headed in to do his own demo class. I told him I'd see him later and wished him luck.
I made it home and ran a few errands before settling in to do some more Online Teaching. After I was done and Brian made it home, we got ready to go out to the Bitexco Tower to have a drink on their sky deck and then go down to Benh Thanh (the tourist district!) so I could experience the nightlife. Unfortunately I left my ID at home by accident and we didn't get to go to the tower. Instead we wandered the area around the tower and stopped in at a fancy beer garden for a drink. The girls were dressed in skimpy themed outfits and the boys wore popped collar polo shirts (bro style) in colors to match the girls. We quickly realized we had come just before their rush as the girls were making name tags to save the tables for all the patrons who had reserved them for their huge groups of friends. We finished our (overpriced) beers and got out of their way.
Since our plans were foiled by me, we decided just to walk up into benh thanh and find another bar and a place to eat. We ended up at a bar Brian had been to before called Happy Life. We sat outside with another expat. He was a surly, somewhat dazed seeming British man that Brian had previously been introduced to. Not very good conversation was had as he was very self focused on if he was "too annoyed" to stay in the city for the night and catch a bus up north in the morning or if it would be "more annoying" to ride a sleeper bus through the night there. Needless to say I pretty much ignored him the best I could as he would neither discuss anything nor stop trying to draw us into helping him decide what to do. The bar was interesting... definitely set up for tourists as evidenced by the skimpy girls etched into their tiling in the bathroom.
We soon said goodbye to the Brit and headed to find some food. Maybe we should have looked longer but we saw a Pho shop that was packed with people and went inside. The food was good and we were enjoying our meal until halfway through I saw a cockroach climbing up the wall next to me. We quickly asked for our checks and left. Unfortunately this is where we think Brian caught food poisoning.
Oct 2nd Saturday- Eighth Day
On Saturday I finally had a day off! I booked us massages at a very highly rated spa near the river in District 1. We set off around 11am and each enjoyed a traditional style massage. They stretch you, use pressure point techniques, and are on the table with you a lot of the time to get good leverage while working your sore muscles. It was wonderful! The cost was 360,000 VND which equals about $16 for an hour of massage. I can't wait to try more spas and services in HCMC.
We came home and were about to get ready to go out to have lunch when Brian started feeling ill. We stayed home and he threw up most of the evening. I went out a few times to get him water and things he needed from the convenience store and stayed up with him until he felt well enough to go to sleep.
Today! Sunday Oct 4th
This morning I went and got a pastry and a cafe da from down the street while Brian's been resting.
He says he's feeling much better after last night and hopefully he'll recover soon.