Hello!! I know it's been ages since we updated the blog. The past two weeks have been so crazy it's taken us some time to get settled again. The reason things have been so crazy is that we were forced to move from our old place into the apartment I'm writing from right now in District 2.
Here's the updates:
The Apartment Situation
So we had finally started to get our feet under us and feel at home here in Vietnam. We had a reasonably nice place to live, knew a bunch of restaurants we liked, had our school schedules down, and had just gotten our first paychecks! ($$) But during the first week of November, ward police had shown up outside our apartment and the maid at our apartment told us we couldn't take our bike out to get lunch. We spoke to our landlord and he explained that he had purchased the building directly in front of our apartment and thus inherited the money owed to the ward police. He thought he could get by with building new things in the property without paying the ward police their debt. So the ward police showed up and barricaded the front door of the compound our apartment was in! This all started on Tuesday of that week.
They never bothered Brian and I but we were forced to call out of work because we were unable to get our bike out to leave! A day later our landlord came to our apartment and told us we had to find somewhere else to stay "for a week or maybe a month" (ugh) so we were stressed (i cried a lot) and rushed to find a new place to live. We had to rent a hotel room for two days because our landlord said we couldn't be seen coming and going from the apartment.
We had two days to find somewhere else to live, luckily Brian got in touch with an amazing rental agent and we found a cute apartment 5 minutes from our old neighborhood over the river in District 2! It's maybe not ideal but it's quiet and we escaped our crooked old landlord and now are happy in a new bigger place! This was an extremely weird and stressful situation and we've been told by other expats that it's not commonplace for these sorts of things to happen to foreigners (Although no one was surprised by the police officers' behavior). So we've concluded that our landlord was basically not on the up and up and are happy to be rid of him.
Sidenote: There are different types of police here in Vietnam. Ward police are sort of local enforcers they only have power in the ward they're stationed in, Traffic police are like the real police in America they're usually on the highways and roads around here wearing beige uniforms, Military police wear green uniforms and are the most serious of police officers. They're usually seen around the government buildings or guarding the consulates.
Since we arrived in September, we came at just the right time to experience VUS's teachers day celebrations! Teacher's Day is the 20th of November and it's when the people of Vietnam recognize the contributions and importance of local teachers. Teachers usually get this day off and most schools give gifts or have a party for their teachers. VUS is apparently known in the Expat English Teachers' world as giving a really great party for their teachers. I have to say it was pretty impressive. They rented out the ballrooms in the Intercontinental Asiana (very fancy hotel) and decked it out! It was so beautiful and I felt a bit underdressed having come straight from a class at school.
There were lots of speeches, awards given, and then the wine was flowing freely and the buffet lines were open! We got to eat a ton of delicious food, talk to some of the other teachers, and enjoy skits put on by each campus. It was fun! We were invited out for drinks later by some of our campus's teachers but got lost on the way and had to head home.
Other than the party, teaching has been great! One of my teen classes just ended and I'm so proud of them. They could barely speak or understand in the beginning and they've all made so much progress! Otherwise, I'm excited to start at my new campus this week and hopefully it all goes well!
Day to Day
As it gets extremely close to Thanksgiving and ever closer to Christmas, I've been feeling a bit homesick. I know I'm going to miss being with my family and being able to see my friends during the holidays. It's going to be interesting trying to mail everyone presents! (still haven't figured out the mail system ugh). Brian and I have been talking about what we're going to do to mark the occasion. The vietnamese are really into Christmas surprisingly! There are tons of street shops selling christmas decorations and cafes and shops have started decking out their exteriors in lights and tinsel. It should be interesting seeing what everything looks like in December!
Since we live in District 2 now we are a lot closer to a cool district called Thao Dien. It's known for having a large expat community and nice housing (there are villas!). It's beautiful over there and we spent a day exploring the area, we went to a craft beer bar called Biacraft and went to one of the most talked about restaurants in the area The Deck, which is right on the river!
We also visited another noted food spot, The Lunch Lady in district 1 this past week. She was featured on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain ( i know i know) and her pho was fantastic! Sweet and savory. Her pho is unique while we've had a lot of the other things she serves ( deep fried spring rolls etc.) at other street food stands that are just as good.
We've also been spending a good amount of time at the Van Thanh Pool. It's a very nice pool located inside an impressive and beautiful resort and it's only 120,000 vnd ($5) for two people to get in! It's been nice on our days off to have a place to relax and enjoy some of the perks of living abroad.