Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saigon is a Go Get 'Em Place

Last night I followed my Cousin Huy to hip hop and salsa classes.
(Huy is my cousin from Texas who went to Vietnam for a month and has been here for a year, his Vietnamese is equally terrible, but he's a programmer and that's an international language)

The hip hop class is in this run down community center and is taught by locals.
They divided the classes into: street hip hop, music video hip hop and clubbing hip hop. I have yet to tell the difference. I was impressed with the tennis courts at the community center because they looked brand new, while the building is a shit hole. "This is great! Pho! You need to lower your standards, you're in Vietnam. Look, there's wood floor!" My cousin Huy was optimistic. I am confused to how Vietnam prioritizes its construction.

I watched Huy do Salsa. It looked very difficult and was taught by an authentic Cuban dancer. Actually, I think it was more of Cuban dance than salsa. But anyway, it was taught at the back of La Habana, an expensive Tapas bar where foreigners talk business.

My body began to shut down so i took a walk in the streets around 9pm until Huy was done. I noticed a lot of Korean and Japanese restaurants near this Latin place. Once again I was approached by contradiction. I found a KFC, comfort food for foreigners and a Pizza Hut which was more of a upper class, fine dining place. The sushi and korean places had American prices and the lounges were full of drunk out-of-towners. This one place was western themed.

Down the street, the sidewalk was being repaved in the dark. A lot of broken concrete made pedestrians walk in the streets. I caught a glimpse of this very muscular worker and observed what his team was doing at night. They were picking up the heavy cement pieces one by one and throwing them into a truck. The pile was enormous. I guess, if you have the "man-power," you don't need to invest in expensive efficient machines.

I felt safe, yet cautious wandering the streets and alleys of downtown. I was accosted by the guy on a motor bike who offered me beautiful ladies. I replied, "khong" which means... no. I didn't feel like giving more than a one word response.

Huy drove me home and I crashed, my body finally took over my mind.


I have decided to stay with Co Xuan. After her stroke, here mom is bedridden in a cot in the kitchen area. I can stay where she used to sleep in a crawl space area between the upstairs and the downstairs.

I decided to live with Co Xuan because she really wants me to stay with her. Like really badly. And she loves to take care of me. Even though the space is small and i'd have no privacy, at least I'd be with family. AND I will be living like a true local: NO Air Conditioning!! I hope I can do it! If not, I can just rent out the place.. it's only a couple of blocks away!

Between dance classes, I bought dress shoes for 20 bucks. I can really feel the LOW quality, but I need them and they look nice for now. My interview got pushed back to Friday! I hope I get part time and then I can also teach English and get some spending cash.

I noticed that there are more traffic lights than in 2006 and people obey them. Huy told me that traffic has gotten SO bad that people started to realize that they better work together to make it work. Huy explained that a couple of years ago, they needed to have cops stand by the traffic lights to explain what people needed to do when the lights turned red! And they were still confused.

I was told that you were required to drink when you go to night clubs. I asked my cousin's friends about drunk driving. "Oh, it's legal to drive drunk, but when you crash... that's what you'll be paying for."


For 100 do-la (US dollar) I got 1665000 dong (VND). Can you imagine? One million, six hundred, sixty five thousand!?! What a terrible currency.Blogger: letopho - Edit Post "Saigon is a Go Get 'Em Place"

So each of those green notes is about 6 dollars. Essentially I can get 4 bowls of pho with one green note.

I didn't bring my credit card. FACK THAT!

My dad's been sending me emails about what I shouldn't consume in Vietnam. So far it's un-bottled water, candy and milk.

How about man-ladies walking down the street. Is that okay dad?


Apparently my youtube videos are banned. Oh communism.
Someone please download the video: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NONGVNFO
And tell me if it works.

-Buy fruit
-Sleep in the crawl space at my other cousin's place to see if I can actually live there.
-Maybe ride a mo-ped? Scary


Joeytrombone said...

it works!

Katie said...

i loved the video! helps me picture all the things you're writing about.

Tofu said...

i was wondering why the youtube videos didn't work. be safe on that bike

Alex C. said...

Sounds like quite the adventure already!

Neelio! said...

Wow sounds like you'll be eating a lot of PHo! Downloading the video now!