Well, I have been here for a week and what a week it has been. Fantastic!!! 10 steps above Cambodia. Don’t get me wrong, Cambodia is good but Vietnam is really good. I think it also matters where you are staying and we are staying in the best area of the city. It’s so beautiful with tree lined streets and not much much trash really. We are only a couple blocks from the school, Language Corps, which is also nice. I like walking to school in the morning. We also have tons of restaurants and stores all around us. We didn’t have that in Phenom Pehn. Plus, we were so far from everything that a tuk tuk ride was $4 to get anywhere. Here, we can pretty much walk everywhere. We also have an amazing park only a couple of blocks away. I love the park because 1. It is beautiful and 2. It is alive with people. People playing badminton, exercising, jogging, zumba, working out on the permanent equipment, playing Chinese Chess, walking around, and just hanging out.
Our hotel is lovely too. I have a bathtub, a balcony, actual decorations, cable tv and wifi in my room. They even do free laundry service and clean my room when I give them the key. They don’t really know English but it’s amazingly easy to communicate when you really want to. It’s a lot like charades. They are very nice and always smile when we come in.
So, during the week is pretty busy. It starts with breakfast in the alley of our school. This isn’t a real restaurant but a lady who sets up some tables and pulls her cart there and starts cooking. She also has a bbq and makes the most amazing pork chops. I love it!!! Pork chops, rice, fish sauce and some pickled vegis. So tasty and so cheap because it is considered street food. Only $1. When I go to order, the lady just says, “same same” and a few minutes later I have a wonderful breakfast. There is also free tea but you have to get over the fact that the cups are shared with everyone who has been there before you. I just swish a little tea in there to clean the cup and fill her up and enjoy. On the other side of the alley is another lady who has a coffee cart selling cafe sua da. Oh hello, I swear she puts something addicting in it because I can never just drink one. It’s really strong Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk and poured over ice. Not good for the waistline but I think very much worth it. Only $1 for two. Usually, he school director named Hein is hanging out at a table so I will visit with her. Our teacher might join us and so will Libby and Andrew, a sweet couple who are also in the program. Meals are very social here. I like that. I swear everyone eats out each and every meal.
After breakfast is our first class, Vietnamese. Yikes, learning a language is difficult. It’s been one week and all I can say is hello and thank you. I’m so happy the alphabet is similar to ours and not some strange squiggly lines. This experience is quite valuable because it really helps us to see what our students are going through. Not to mention, it’s nice to try to speak Vietnamese to the locals. We will have Vietnamese class all this coming week so let’s see what else we learn.
After class, our teacher, Linh, helps us with lesson planning. She has a MA in TESOL and has so many great teaching ideas. She really knows how to spice up our lessons. Lesson planning at this point is a lot of work. We are trying to do it right and make it fun.
After lesson planning, it’s lunch. Usually other teachers come to the school and everyone goes out to a street restaurant. Usually the same one now that I think of it. She has different things each day and always curry on Mondays so Monday is the day everyone shows up. This is a popular place and we usually end up serving ourselves which is pretty cool. We sit at mini tables with mini stools. I am going to make a point of taking some photos this week.
After lunch we finish our lesson plans or take a nap or watch each other teach. One thing is for sure, we each teach a 1 1/2 hour class each day. I love the adults!! They are in the early 20’s and so eager to learn. They are curious about us and pretty funny. I love making them write or make up skits because it’s really good. They are so creative. There is one kid’s class and let me tell you, they are rascals. At first they wouldn’t talk so we thought they didn’t know English but I think they were just shy. They are pretty proficient in English as it turns out. There is this one kid who is just the cutest little trouble maker. So much fun to threaten to put him in the stool in the front of the class.
After teaching, we are usually pooped. We go out to dinner somewhere in the hood; usually a noodle place on the street and then it’s off to our hotel. Our days are full. Not sure how I will handle the rest of this trip when I don’t have a ton to do but travel and be a tourist. Speaking of which, we graduate on Friday. I will have my TESOL certificate! I will have one more weekend in HCMC and then head to Malaysia on Monday to hang out with Constance; my friend from Columbia. Really looking forward to meeting up with her and her family. We start off in KL and then will be flying over to Borneo, where she is from. Looking forward to it.
As for the weekend here, well, it was so nice not to have homework and to kick around the city and sight see. One of the students took us around all day yesterday. So much fun. Friday night we went to a cool nightclub to listen to a band–that is after hanging out in the park drinking in the gazebo and people watching. And today, I just went all over the city and visited the War Remenets Museum, the post office, the Ben Than Market, the amazing malls, admired the gorgeous Colonial buildings and just walked around. I had a lovely pedicure and really just enjoyed having the day off with not rain. Hope you are having a great summer!!!