October 21, 2013

Day 12 – Bitten but not beaten

Mosquito bites- So the inevitable happened, I have been been bitten on my arm, hand and leg – not entirely sure by which insect but my guess is at least one of them is from a mosquito!

Age – People here in HCM city look a lot younger then their age, whilst in the west we have hundreds of anti-aging products, we continue to age! In HCM however, perhaps because of the air, food or the lifestyle, no such products are needed.  A woman who is 60 doesn’t look older then 40!

Buses – There are no double-deckers or bendy buses here yet, many of the buses here have air-con and some even have the radio playing! This is something we need back home so we don’t melt in the summer

Drinking a beer on the streets of Saigon with Magali, Nichols and Julian

Drinking a beer on the streets of Saigon with Magali, Nichols and Julian

Clubbing – There is no entry fee and no dress code to get into some of the clubs here.  So, you have the young mixed in with the middle-aged!  The other night I saw a couple of Indian aunties walk in -brilliant, this thankfully would never happen back home!

Districts – District 1 is the back-packers area so these streets have many hostels, bar and you can even go for a curry! In the evenings, the streets are packed with people drinking beer on plastic chairs and women selling all kinds of food.  It’s a little Temple Bar in Dublin minus the live Irish music!

Night out in district 1 with Dang, Cecilie and Magali

Night out in district 1 with Dang, Cecilie and Magali

Spa – There are many salons and spas here and given the prices it would be a crime not to try at least one! I signed up for a relaxing care massage – it was not relaxing! The lady stretched, pulled and pushed muscles and I heard plenty of bones crack – however, I would definitely recommend it and go again!

Inside one of the many spas in Saigon

Inside one of the many spas in Saigon

Volunteering – I volunteer at 3 very different projects and local volunteers help translate at each.  It’s very different volunteering here, compared to back home; where as we have state help and a range of NGO’s to help children and young people, here children don’t.  They don’t have a free education, they are not entitled to welfare or health care.

English – Whilst on many of the websites and in guidebooks, it states that English is spoken, it is not spoken everywhere!  Getting lost in district 7 and asking for directions proved to be a nightmare as hardly any of the locals here speak English

Money – Again, whilst guidebooks state that US dollars are accepted widely, VD is the main currency and in non-touristy districts, like ours, prices are in VD

Fears – Before come to HCM city, I was afraid of teaching English as I had never taught before.  Upon arriving to the district, I was then afraid of getting lost as street names and numbers look so similar.  Now, having stayed a week, I’m afraid I will get run over! Crossing roads here is perhaps worse than India – if I survive this, I can cross roads anywhere!