Somebody guilt-tripped me into writing this blog post. I’m not going to name names. You know who you are.
Anyway, I was persuaded by the anonymous entity who is not anonymous to anyone following the link from my Facebook page, which is probably most of you, to write this post. My argument that I have not gone anywhere or done anything interesting recently was apparently insufficient.
So here it is. A series of pictures which, all jokes aside, I was perfectly happy to put together, having been convinced that people would find it interesting.
Most of them are not connected with each other. They’re just photos I took while out and about in the city and are a pretty solid demonstration of everyday life for me.
To start, here’s where I live, in District 7.
My garden and courtyard! I rent from a lovely Vietnamese family who all speak good English. I’m incredibly glad to have found them. Where I live is like a small apartment attached to the main house, except with a private entrance, private gate, etc. The gray wall you can see above separates my apartment from the main house.
I absolutely love living here. I’m going to miss it when I eventually leave this country.
Relatively tidy kitchen.
Aaaaand here’s my motorbike/scooter. Nothing particularly flashy, but it gets me around, and gas is about $2 a week 🙂
Up next is my gym. I know how boring that sounds. It looks like every gym in America, but that’s why I wanted to include it – so you guys could see how advanced some of the things over here in this developing country are. It’s on the first and second floors of one of these high-rise towers called Sunrise City.
Interior shot below.
There are weights and yoga and zumba classes, too, but I didn’t think you needed the whole nine yards for this particular thing. You know what a gym looks like. I’m sure there’s a joke about New Year’s resolutions and fitness in there somewhere.
This is the view from the treadmill which, yes, I do use, thank you very much.
Here is something a little more interesting. This is the view from a corner of the gym. It’s a construction site building new luxury homes and apartment buildings. If you look straight ahead you can see little huts or shacks that look like temporarily rest areas for the workers. They’re not. The workers often live there, sometimes for months at a time, and sleep in hammocks strung up between supports. I don’t know exactly how much they get paid but it’s typically an amount that would barely cover a fancy drink at Starbucks – per day.
This is your average parking lot. When you go somewhere, they give you a paper slip with your plate number written on it. When you leave, you have to hand the security guard the paper plus the parking fee, which is usually 3,000 – 5,000 VND…fifteen to twenty-five cents USD. If you’re somewhere a bit nicer like the luxury malls they have a machine where they scan a card and give it to you, which you have to then give to the guard on your way out. The card connects somehow to the cameras in the machine so they can make sure you are taking your own bike out and not someone else – it’s an anti-theft measure, which I probably should have said in the first couple of sentences. Talk about burying the lede.
Anyway, car parking lots do exist, but only rich people have cars because on average cars cost about 3x as much as they do in the States because of taxes. A Mercedes that costs $45,000 in the US will cost someone here about $120,000.
This was taken from my old house. The safety measures in most of this part of the world consist of ‘don’t do anything stupid and if you do whatever happens is your fault’. No one bats an eye at this sort of behavior. She’s about three stories up, by the way. And she literally just climbed out of a window to get there.
Small, outdoor and non-air conditioned cafes like this are a dime a dozen. Maybe more common than that, even; there are usually four or five to a block. They have little chairs and serve coffee and tea and sometimes little pastries.
What I’m drinking in that picture is called cafe sua da, which is coffee with sweetened condensed milk. It’s great! I can’t believe we haven’t done that in the States. Regular black coffee is just cafe da. And it is like a shot of espresso – one cafe sua da will have me bouncing off the walls for a couple of hours after I drink one, and this is from someone who had generally thought herself immune to caffeine after years of reckless coffee consumption.
Rainy season! This happens between May and September approximately, a bit like our hurricane season. You just expect the streets to flood. You expect to get wet. Less of a problem if you have a car, which I don’t.
This is right outside my house. I didn’t realize the streets had flooded so I opened my gate intending to go to the store, took one look, went ‘haha nope’ and turned right back around and went inside.
Street food is ubiquitous here. I don’t eat much of it mostly because I enjoy cooking on my own but when you want a cheap, tasty meal or snack, street food is the way to go. The soup below was 75 cents.
Next is a meal I made on my own, a variety of shabu shabu aka hotpot. You take thin sliced beef, or sea food, or just vegetables, and boil/cook them in a broth base. I like to wrap the beef and vegetables in softened rice papers as shown in the upper left hand corner photo, to make sort of spring rolls. You can add noodles, too, or rice, at the end. It’s incredibly healthy and it’s very filling!
Finally, below, just for fun is a passive-aggressive trash can judging your choices, found at a nearby grocery store.
So there you go, Rev. Freddy…oh, I named names after all. Oops. Anyway, I hope this post lived up to your expectations. If it didn’t don’t tell me.