Sunday, September 5, 2010

A different side of Việt Nam...

It's hard to believe that I have been in Việt Nam for a month now. Where does the time go?! Last weekend I was able to take a break from grading papers, organizing my classroom, and lesson planning in order to visit the Mekong Delta which is two hours away from Saigon and where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. It was nice to be able to witness a different side of Việt Nam; one that was much more slow-paced (if that is even possible!),
traditional, and uncorrupted by the booming and relentless push-towards-modernism mentality of the city. Many of the natives of this area live on their boats and instead of streets they have cut into the delta and created water pathways to get to different areas of the region. On our trip we were able to ride in a local canoe through these waterways (with our newly bought conical hats) in order to see how the people of the delta live their day-to-day lives. We saw women making rice paper, coconut candy (yum!), and some things that looked
like Indian Frye Bread but were actually made of bananas.
Later, we had lunch in a beautiful garden delta where locals had prepared freshly grilled fish spring rolls (made in front of us), fish dumpling soup, sauteed veggies, and exotic rambutan fruit for dessert. Our delicious lunch was all the while being serenaded by live traditional Vietnamese music, which, I'll be honest, is something that will take some time getting used to!
This weekend I moved into my new apartment! I live in District 5 about 10 minutes walking distance to my school and is right on the border of District 1 where everything happening. Our new place is on the 18th floor and has a gorgeous unobstructed view of the city lights at night and sun rise in the morning. I specifically got a two bedroom so all of you can come and visit (so you better!). It's nice to finally live in the bustling city where everything is in walking distance... all of the restaurants, bars, shopping and tourist sites. Every weekend we have been venturing out and exploring the night scene which is a lot of fun. So many different bars, each with a different and distinct theme. I'm still amazed at how many expats (foreigners) there are in this city... they are everywhere! Forty-percent of my building occupied is foreigners, but I love how the building, gardens and surrounding area still feels very Vietnamese. It is in part due to the amount of foreigners living here that there is the availability of all kinds of different foods from around the world; Mexican, Tapas, American Hamburger joints, Italian, Thai, and Middle Eastern (to only name a few). So if you crave something other than Vietnamese food you can bet it exists here... if you're willing to spend a little more money. :)

Next weekend we are planning on going to a city called Mui Ne which is 3 hrs away by bus. It is famous for its gorgeous beaches and white sand dunes and I am really looking forward to finally having a relaxing weekend. You can stay in beach bungalows for $30 a night.... I cant wait! Ten teachers from school are renting a private charter bus to drive us, which ends up being about $10 for each person. My next blog will definitely update you on the trip.

Note: Once I take pics of the apartment I will definitely post and also if you want to see more pics of Vietnam they are all on Facebook because I cannot post all of them on the blog.

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