Adventures as Miss Saigon

Trời ơi! Week one recap!

Posted on: September 22, 2010

I’ve been contemplating my first real blog for a while, wondering what to say and where to begin this unbelievable adventure, and I still don’t feel like I’ve come up with the right words. But here I go anyways…!

I’m in f’ing Vietnam! I was told by a recent newcomer to Vietnam that I’d wake up and say that exact line, and that’s definitely been the case! The actual journey here was ridiculously long…after all the driving to Toronto, waiting at the airports and time spent on the plane, I’m guessing that it took me 35 hours to get here. But both my luggage (all three checked bags!) and I made it here in one piece, and the family I’m working for was waiting at the airport in HCMC to greet me! After arriving at my new apartment, my new coworkers and new supervisor all came by to welcome me here. It was great to finally meet all of the people I’ve spent so long emailing and skyping!

view from my apartment on the 12th floor

After unpacking and a long night’s sleep, my next mission was to get settled into my apartment. My immediate feeling was panic…I knew exactly where to get the items I needed at my local WalMart in Ontario, but where the hell do you get the basics in Vietnam?! Next stop, LotteMart, my WalMart away from home! Even the little things in a foreign country, where English isn’t the main language spoken, are incredibly difficult! So many fruits that I didn’t recognize from home, product labels written in Vietnamese, and a currency that is very strange! 1USD = approx 20,000VN dong, and 20,000VND goes a long way!

Traffic here is unreal! At first glance there are no rules, no organization and no limit to the number people or objects that can be piled on one xe om (motorbike). I’m slowly starting to get the hang of crossing streets here, and am beginning to understand the basic idea of traffic here…I’ve even come to the realization that I can not avoid riding a xe om here (sorry mom)…my first xe om ride was on the back of the bike belonging to the mom I work for. She drove me home (a 5 minute ride) after my first morning at work. The little 3 year old I’m working with stood calmly at the front of the bike, while I held on for dear life on the back. Everything went well until we pulled up to my apartment and I had to get off. I was so focused on not touching the exhaust with my leg, that I must have forgotten to maintain my balance and fell off the xe om! Thankfully my worst injury was a bruised ego, and my supervisor kindly took it easy on me the next day! “I’m slowly lowering the bike to the left” was my prompt to carefully climb off the back of his bike, and a week later, I feel like a pro!

traffic in District 1

This past weekend, 2 of the girls and I decided to journey into District 1 (aka downtown). Our first stop was Ben Thanh Market, where the sounds, smells, beautiful colours and women grabbing you to come into their shop were all an amazing assault on the senses. Later, we met our supervisor and his friend at the Sheraton Hotel for drinks on the 23rd floor to watch the sunset. It was an incredible view of the city, and two-for-one cocktails! Dinner and more drinks (and lots of people watching) were then had in the backpackers area in District 1.

inside Ben Thanh Market

Work has been keeping me busy! The little boy, J, is so sweet, but it’s tiring work spending each day trying to play and pair and get him to like being with me. Luckily, I have a great family to work with here and an amazing group of coworkers to turn to for support. It’s going to be quite the year, watching J grow and learn!

Besides leaving home, moving to a new country and starting a new job, this week has been especially difficult for me. In a few hours, my mom is going in for surgery at home, and it’s killing me that I’m not there to be with her. She’s the strongest woman I know, so I know everything will be okay soon, but we’re really close…I just want to give her a hug and tell her how much she means to me…I love you mom!

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8 Responses to "Trời ơi! Week one recap!"

awwww nice to see you blogging… YAY!!!!

Tell me.. Are you going to buy an xe om?

Is it expensive over there?
You say ” 1USD = approx 20,000VN” let’s say if you want to buy milk.. how much is it? Yeah I know… I’m curious 🙂

Im sending positive energy for your mom and you 🙂

Miss you chickie **hugs**
Nanner

miss you too nanner! thanks for the thoughts lady 🙂 just got a call that my mom’s out and doing well 🙂

haha no to the buying a xe om! one of the girls rents a xe om for $50USD/month…to get to work and back my xe om driver is costing me $60USD/month…things are pretty cheap here! a loaf of bread is 20,000VND, can get a delicious dinner and a drink at a restaurant for 120,000VND…the rule seems to be if it’s a western comfort/luxury, be prepared to pay, but most things are pretty cheap!

Hi Meg!

I just had to tell you i am reading your blog as i am so interested in how your experience is going! and what an amazing experience it must be! It so nice that you are blogging!

I am sorry to hear about your mom, i send all mt positive energy and thoughts your way! Both my mom and dad were diagnosed with Cancer 2 years ago, and for as much as its worth they were both also caught early, operated on, and both are doing fantastic ! So i wish your mom all the same!!! Positive thinking i swear goes a very long way, i really do feel it had a great deal helping both my parents.

I wish you all the very best on your time away! You will do an amazing job 🙂

TAKE CARE AND BE SAFE!
-Linds.

thanks linds 🙂 your comments are much appreciated! sorry to hear about what you’ve gone through with your parents, but happy to hear they are both doing so well!

dear megan,
found your blog so interesting i almost envy you for having such confidence , we are in the process of doing our kitchen and hopefully that will be the end . i feel really sorry about your mom as you know we go back a long way, i have had such a terrible year and just thought things couldnt get any worse anyway her operation seems to have gone well so i will await more newsx keep well and safe xxx

thanks for checking it out jean 🙂 you’ll have to send pictures of your place, or give me the skype tour once the sound issues are sorted! hope to talk soon and as soon as i find a post office, your postcard is in the mail! 🙂

Megan,

I am sorry to hear about your mom and I hope that she will recover fully. My sister just had a cancer scared recently.

I was there in July (2010) and had a great time. Love eating all those fruits that are not available pretty much anywhere else except in Asia.

If you need Western products, go to Tax Department store in District 1 by Caravelle Hotel. They sell everything from Irish Spring bar soap to Trojan condoms. First floor has all the Western beauty products. Third floor has great Vietnamese crafts.

hey! thanks for the comments and for checking out my blog! i’ll have to get to tax department store soon…i haven’t been there yet!

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