Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vietnam: Week 3 (in which we grill on the roof)

So with three weeks under my belt, the "vacation" period is pretty much over for me (well as over as it can be, life here is extremely chill). This week I've been applying for teaching and starting to buckle down. But last Friday was a holiday, so I've still got something to write about:

In Vietnam there is a festival called the Hùng Kings' Festival (or Giỗ Tổ Hùng Vương or lễ hội đền Hùng), which falls on the 8th to the 11th days of the third lunar month. The 10th day is the main day of the festival, and is a public holiday in Vietnam. The holiday exists to honour the Hùng Vương, or Hùng Kings. The Hùng Kings are traditionally the founders and first emperors of the nation.

For my roommates, this just means they got a Saturday off of work. So we decided to have a party on the roof of our apartment building. With 10 roommates we are kind of a party of our own anyway, but they invited a few more people who live in the area.

Our apartment building is 22 stories high (or something like that). Also we are totally allowed to be up here. This might seem rebellious. It is not.

We (well my roommates. I don't really cook ha) made a big buffet of taco fillings.

We brought a grill up and cooked all kinds of meat and sea food. 

And also we made pitchers of margaritas. That's important.

Pictures were taken.

The weather was perfect (It hovers in the 80's at night time)

And the food was super good.

My roommates are the best.

Then we went out to bars and played foosball and ate stale nachos and got overcharged. Good times.

Anyway. Like I said, I'm trying to get into teaching and start making some money. This weekend I have two demo classes at two separate schools (they basically throw you into a class and say 'k go for it'). So, fingers crossed, next time I write I should have been hired by at least one of the schools!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vietnam: Week 2 (in which I go to a Vietnamese wedding)

My roommate Tuna was invited last weekend to the wedding of his co-worker (another English teacher). According to our Vietnamese roommate, white people are invited to weddings because we're good luck. So Tuna asked if I wanted to come, and how could I say no to that?? Other than us, there was one other white person there. And even though no one knew us, everyone was super nice. And young women took pictures with us, because we are white. And we are a novelty. (It was great).

We were the first ones there. Because we showed up at the time on the invitation. Silly Americans. (It really started an hour and a half after the time listed)

So of course I took a bunch of pictures of the venue. 

So technically we were only invited to the reception. In Vietnam weddings are a two day affair, with the wedding on Saturday morning, the reception Sunday night, and different ceremonies/family things in between. I can't say if that's true for all weddings but that's how the groom explained it to us.

Waiting waiting waiting.

Like I mentioned in the last blog, if you are a girl you will get a straw in your drink. This is the classiest beer I've ever been served.

Me and Tuna. He does not get a straw.

People start showing up and milling about. They play loud 90s pop ballads. People take selfies.

Eventually the bride and groom arrive, as well as their parents. Speeches are given. Then they pour champagne into this tower and cut a cake. But I think the cake was symbolic. Because it looked fake and they never served it. Unfair.

Then for the next several hours they brought us tons of food. But before the food even came out they made a point to specifically bring two forks for us, and only us.

There were pastries and fish and pork and all kinds of food. They also consistently make sure your glasses are always being filled. You'l'l notice in every picture they are all equally full. This is usual pretty much everywhere here, which is great service except if you're drinking beer it's hard to keep track of how much you've had.

The bride and groom have to go around and drink a glass of champagne with every table. Then they are free to mingle and celebrate.

This is a hot pot, where there is a pot of broth cooking in the middle of the table and then all kinds of random stuff are thrown into it. This is super common here, I've had it several times already.

Then people started going up and singing, basically like karaoke. This is a group of his English students he invited who sang together. It was cute.

 Lots of pictures were being taken, and then we kind of ditched out. But it was really cool! And definitely an experience I never imagined I'd have.

Otherwise the week has been pretty relaxed, so I'll leave it at the wedding.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Vietnam: Week 1

So, as I plan on living here for the next year, I probably will not be posting very frequently. I will most likely post when something exciting happens (like a trip or a holiday) but otherwise I will try to do little weekly write-ups to keep you all updated on what I'm doing with tidbits of Vietnamese knowledge.

This is the view from our apartment living room. I haven't taken a ton of photos outside of the house because, for one, my phone is useless away from the WiFi so I rarely take it when I go out and, for two, I feel white and touristy and don't want to draw extra attention to myself.

This week has mainly consisted of getting settled. Gone out for food many times, lots of greasy street food and noodles and rice and all those things you would expect. Went out for drinks one night, which was a lot of fun. Visited the school where I'll eventually be working. Went to a grocery store. And a mall.

About half of my roommates are sick right now. They apologize a lot for not taking me out and showing me stuff but it doesn't bother me really. Thus far I feel fine though which is cool.

I finally got dong from an ATM (which is what their money is called).

I got a mask. Which is recommended when riding because of the air pollution (everyone gets around on motorbikes. I ride on the back of my roommate's but eventually I'll have to learn to ride on my own). I think it looks bad ass. I also have a helmet so no worries Mom.

On Wednesday we went for a walk around our neighborhood and I was able to take some pictures.

There is trash everywhere.

We bought a little plant for our bedroom.

Vietnamese Tidbits of knowledge:
  • You can not buy any medicine anywhere other than a pharmacy (not at markets, grocery stores, gas stations, nothin).
  • Basically anything can be ordered for delivery. Including Baskin Robbins
  • If you buy a drink it will most likely (especially if you're a woman) have a colorful bendy straw in it. Including beer bottles.
  • You have to be careful buying any skin products (face wash, lotion, that kind of stuff) because almost everything has chemicals to whiten skin in it. Even deodorant.
  • It's hot.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Moving to Vietnam

Well I haven't been very good at keeping this up to date, because a couple days ago I moved to Vietnam.

I spent more than 30 hours traveling to get here. A flight from Minnesota to California. A flight from California to Japan. And a flight from Japan to Vietnam. Plus a whole lot of hours in layovers and time spent dealing with visas and passports. Plus I did it all by myself, so it was a very long and stressful day.

I spent 4 hours in Tokyo and although I didn't get to leave the airport, I did enjoy checking out all the cool stores. Also everyone at the airport and on the planes were super nice.

My new roommates picked me up from the airport around midnight (I left Minnesota at 4 a.m. Thursday and arrived at midnight on Friday...well technically Saturday) and they took me to my new home.

 This is our living room, and one of the cats. There are two cats and ten people. 

This is our kitchen.

And this is my bedroom, which is comparatively, pretty empty.

And this is the view out my bedroom window. 

I'll try to keep this updated, so stay tuned.