October 23, 2013

Day 14 – Soft French bread in Saigon

French – One of the main influences that the French had in HCM city is the Notre-Dame Cathedral, beautiful from the outside, closed for visiting so no idea what it looks like from the inside.  The other main influence is that of bread – French bread here is great; delivered early each morning and reminds me of Madagascar.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Scissors – Whilst there are arguably many things that can be cut with a pair of scissors, it was only after coming here that I got to see loaves of French bread being cut! Here, there are no butter knives, cheese knives so bread is cut as are some vegetables and spoons are used to spread peanut butter or jam –nice!

Rice – For years back home I have put ketchup in rice especially fried rice, it just tastes better with it but I was always given funny looks and told that I was strange. I come here and find it is common to put ketchup on white, plain, rice – love it!

Chop sticks – Of course most dishes here are eaten with chop sticks but coming here I have seen them being used for frying food too! So, spring rolls can be cooked using chop sticks as can chips – no need for any other frying utensils!

Walking – People here don’t walk quite frankly, this is perhaps why they don’t really have pavements so people just walk on the roads.  No aid campaigns or posters encouraging people to walk either but then people here don’t need to focus on healthy living as they are all so slim!

Fans – Fans become your new best friend! During the day, when teaching in class or sat indoors, fans are a must.  It is as hot as India so everytime you step outside you think your going to melt!

Ice – Ice is another must! The streets are packed with ice coffee, smoothies, coconuts and sugar cane juice.  Hot drinks are sold but not needed; drinking English breakfast tea has been replaced with drinking ice Vietnamese coffee or a mango smoothie!

Animals –The streets here have quite a few stray dogs and cats but animals here are much smaller compared to back home.  Also, hardly any of dogs are on a lead so they are free to roam the streets of Saigon.

Push-chairs – I have yet to see a child or children in a pram on the streets or in the supermarket.  Parents here appear to manage without them so they carry their child and you see many parents riding with their young child on a motorbike.  Can’t imagine London being a pram free zone

Motorbikes – The quickest and perhaps the cheapest way to get round here is by a motorbike.  Now, given that most people have a motorbike, I was lucky enough to get a ride to the school I’m volunteering at.  Nonetheless, I was convinced I would fall off so held on for my dear life but it was amazing and I can’t wait for the next ride!

Petty crime – District 7, along with perhaps the other districts, are not the safest.  Bags are snatched in board daylight by guys on motorbikes.  So, it’s best to walk the streets hugging your bag and carrying as few valuables as possible.