Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cho Ben Thanh

Ben Thanh Market is a huge indoor/outdoor market here in Quan 1. (Quan means District. There are 10 Districts that make up the city of HCM.) I initially didn't want to visit it until after my CELTA course was done because I thought I'd save it as a treat to myself. My goal was to not spend frivolously until after I got a job. I'm living off the funds that I brought with me and I plan to make do it with it just in case.I mean, it's pretty easy to find a job here and if I don't get a job with ILA there are a ton of international schools that I can apply to. I can also leave if I want. The only place I would potentially move to at this point is Seoul but it's also very expensive, even if my salary is adjusted for the cost of living. So far I'm liking Viet Nam, even if it never gets cold here.

I completely got off topic. Sorry. It'll happen. A lot! So my course mate Alee and I decided to visit Ben Thanh today. She needed some extra clothes for the CELTA course and I'm in the market, pardon the pun, for a bowl and plate. I definitely did not walk with stuff like that because I found it hard enough to keep to my weight limits. So we hit up Ben Thanh in the hopes of finding these things. Plus we were bored and didn't know what to do today. We're both in a state of suspension as we wait for CELTA to begin. Alee now lives at the guesthouse 15 seconds down the street from me so it's pretty nice having her around. We decided to take motorbikes over there. Fantastic as always but I was a bit careless getting off the bike and my calf brushed the exhaust pipe as I was getting off and I burned myself. I'm fine but it stung for a bit. I'm definitely going to invest in my own helmet because I will definitely be using motorbikes as a mode of transportation and I don't want to borrow other helmets. It kinda freaks me out to think about it.

I, of course, bought the first thing I saw when I walked into the market but it was totally worth it. I also did my first bit of haggling and won. I bought a Tintin in Vietnam t-shirt, and I know he never visited Viet Nam but it's funny at the same. So I officially bought one frivolous thing but I won't do anymore until after CELTA is done because I basically don't have the time to do stuff like that.

After we had a bit of lunch there, with some more iced coffee with condensed milk, we decided to walk back home. Partly to orient ourselves with the area and partly because Alee refuses to spend more money. I'm sure she's right but I love riding motorbikes SO MUCH. On our way back I saw one of those lovely parks that are all over the city. The government does a really good job of running and maintening these parks. They're well manicured and free of litter which was such a pleasure considering the rest of the city. We sat there for a while just taking it all in until a young girl walked by. Well, our age maybe. She smiled at me and so I smiled back and she approached us and started to talk. Her name is Han and it turns out she often frequents the park hoping to run into foreigners so she can practice her English. We talked about where she was from, where she learned English, where we were from, etc. I took the opportunity to practice my Vietnamese and she got SO excited that we knew phrases. She did say that Vietnamese is a hard language to learn but encouraged us to try. I also took the opportunity to ask her about grocery stores, etc but she didn't really understand. I decided to leave after I scratched an old mosquito bite that started to bleed all over my leg. I spotted a pharmacy which is the only place you can buy medicines over here. You can't get medicines anywhere else including the grocery store. Plus, most pharmacists speak English so I figured it would be a good place to ask for a grocery store. I got some hydrogen peroxide and then found a grocery store a few blocks down and bought some detergent, papert towels and supplies for class on Monday.

On our way home Alee and I made mulitple stops. I bought postcards (and will attempt to mail them), she bought clothes and when we thought we were going to faint we stopped at a cafe for juice. Fresh fruit juice is abundant here. So far I've tried watermelon and pineapple and ithey were both amazing. They don't mix it with anything else with it so it's all natural sugars and flavors. And it's only $1.50USD. Another thing I really like about Viet Nam is that in all restaurants instead of serving a glass of water they serve iced green tea. The green tea is refreshing and they serve tea because this way foreigners know that the water was boiled. Plus, it's just so much better than water with lemon.

We then headed home and I showered and passed out for a couple of hours. I then made my afternoon cup of tea and headed down to Miss Loi's lobby to use her computer. I'm now off to a welcome dinner with my CELTA classmates. Hopefully Bridget, another classmate living 15 seconds away, will agree to take motorbikes to dinner. :D

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