Adventures as Miss Saigon

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Amazing day 3…will write soon…but the day ended with karaoke and me singing “My Heart Will Go On”…a true Asian classic! Yup, that did happen.

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If I’ve talked to you this week, you’ve surely heard my latest travel frustrations. My first flight from Toronto to Washington was moved 4 hours ahead, which has thrown everything off. Because it’s Christmas, the airbuses are booked solid, so I’m having to leave home over 9 hours prior to my flight. And I don’t arrive in Thailand any earlier…so my last sleep in my own bed is the night of December 24th, and my next sleep in a bed is the night of December 28th. Good thing I have almost a week on the beach in Thailand to chill out! Can’t wait!

Other than adding some extra time to my already long trip, everything else is going along smoothly. Plans and accommodations are being confirmed, my backpack is sitting waiting to be packed, and I have even had the exciting news that I’ll be able to meet up with one of my friends/coworkers while in Vietnam!

20 days…!!

After another week of riding around town on the back of Cal’s bike, we seem to have bonded even more. He’s been dropping me off at my apartment door now, and even ended one night with a high five! I think my mom would approve of him…he doesn’t idle when we’re sitting at long stop lights (stopping is actually rare in this city, but if anyone knows my mom, you’ll understand the anti-idling appreciation!), he waits patiently on his bike for me to finish work, and he’s all over using his arm to signal turns and honking to clear our path. He’s even started pointing out sights along our drive…a big truck driving the wrong way in traffic, a woman who’d fallen off her motorbike, and Saigon Square (a shopping center downtown).

I also had my first real Vietnamese threesome last week. Laura, my friend and supervisor, came to see me at my evening client’s house. She had her motorbike guy drop her off, assuming we’d get a taxi home together. I had forgotten and asked Cal to come back for me. When Laura and I walked out of the house, Cal quickly offered to drive both of us home on his bike. It was quite the cozy ride, and I was sore in places I hadn’t anticipated, but we made it home safe and sound!

Oh, Cal… ❤

Despite a temporary lull in my blogging, I’m about to hit a huge milestone in page views! I figured I’d post my thank you now, as the milestone is bound to occur while I’m away in Hue this weekend. So….

THANK YOU!!!

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, checked out the pictures, left comments and sent feedback, linked me to their blogs and has taken any amount of time to see my life in Asia.

I promise to get some new material up next week…gonna be a busy few months travel wise, so I will struggle to stay on top of my blogging. Stay tuned…

holy crap! almost 5,000 page views! thanks for checking out my adventures 🙂

Happy New Year! (again!)

Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, was celebrated at the beginning of February this year. It’s very much a family affair, with many preparations beginning weeks in advance. Special meals are cooked, houses are cleaned, families return back to their hometowns and the country pretty much comes to a complete standstill. There are a lot of “superstitions” surrounding this holiday, and I won’t pretend to understand them all! The Vietnamese mom I work for explained some of the traditions to me one afternoon, but there was a lot for me to remember!

For me, the things that have stood out are the brightly coloured decorations and the hustle and bustle of shoppers preparing for the holiday. Everywhere you turn, tree branches are covered in plastic yellow and pink flowers, store windows display yellow foam flowers, and there are Tết lights all over downtown! The decorations definitely make it feel like spring here! The stores have been incredibly busy – Lunar New Years is more like Christmas at home in terms of family time and preparations. I thought I had missed the Christmas rush that I’m used to at home, but instead it just comes 6 weeks later!

Wendy and I arrived back in HCMC on New Years Eve…our flight landed at the airport just before 10:30pm, and we hurried through customs and into a taxi to get downtown before midnight. Downtown was definitely busy! We headed to the area near Ben Thanh Market to get a good view of the midnight fireworks. The sides of the streets were a sea of parked motorbikes, with families sitting on or near them. It was a party atmosphere, complete with balloons, cotton candy and other assorted bicycle vendors. Near midnight, traffic seemed to come to a complete stop as people waited, watching the sky.

busy busy by Ben Thanh Market

fire truck fighting to get through

busy busy downtown!

There was no countdown, but at midnight the fireworks started. And soon after they started, many of the Vietnamese families started to leave! Wendy and I hung around for the duration of the show and walked back to find a taxi to take us home. Our Tết eve was complete!

fireworks, HCMC style!

streets clearing out and the show is not over

New Years Day was Thursday, but most shops and businesses are closed for a full week – they should open again on Monday. It’s been very strange being in a huge city that almost completely shuts down! I’m looking forward to the grocery store opening again…I have all this time off, but can’t do any of my normal routine things or get any real errands done.

Regardless, I look forward to celebrating Tết in Canada for years to come! And Cambodian New Years is only a month or two away! 🙂

This just in…

The package that I mailed home at the end of October arrived at my mom’s house in Ontario yesterday!!! Just over a week in transit – crazy!!! Apparently shipping packages is cheaper (based on the cost of mailing my last set of cards home) and faster than mailing letters and postcards!

Merry Christmas! (My elf sister, Carly, has items to deliver!)

J, the little guy I’m working with, loves this guy’s DVD…and from the looks of it, he’s quite popular here.

Mr Dam may be popular, but he’s got nothing on The Trews! 🙂