I guess I am still “getting my bearings,” although I am now at the point where I can see for the first time a little bit more clearly what it is going to be like to live here. When I was staying in the Van Trang Hotel, it was still in effect my landing. I am now in another part of the city called Tan Binh which is closer to the airport and my school.
The reason I said Bui Vien/District I it is super touristy is because it is. Tourists here might be walking around anywhere but they are walking down Bui Vien in the heart of Saigon, ignoring or acknowledging other blue eyes amid the madness of it all, occasionally smiling when the fifteenth person that breakfast tries to sell you sunglasses.
I kind of love it so far: I love the craziness of it. Some of it makes me feel like a big fat privileged dork, like how hard the kids work and how much I get paid to slacker-teach them just because I have “experience” but I shouldn’t put it in quotes, I do have experience and this is why I get to walk down the hallway the exact minute class starts with my laundry basket which is actually pretty cool. I’ve made up my mind to concentrate on doing the best job I can and so far I do not feel like running away, on the contrary.
The job is the easy part for me so far, like flying was for Mave Rick, and if I were to make a Top Gun comparison I guess my romance with the city/culture would replace Kelly McGinnis. There is so much support in the other teachers, the staff at the school it is like walking a balance beam on the floor and the ground is all one of those special mattresses invented by NASA. It is much easier than other teaching jobs I’ve had.
This morning one of the kids did this wheelbarrow move which happened fast and his his shoe lifted up my skirt and the kids all started laughing, I felt my face turn red and I looked at Lan and she was laughing too and she just said “accident” and I was able to go on, it just really helps to have someone else in the room, needless to say when they are there to help, not judge or critique you. Even though we do 22+ hour weekends I notice myself actually taking the time to do things like use the bathroom and eat food during the day whereas other teaching jobs I’ve had were either too busy or too stressful or both to do either.
One more on the staff, Uyen, is Rose’s wingmate, Rose is the angel for me here so far and as I’ve lived abroad I know you need those. Rose got me the apartment I’m in now, with French lighting, marble floor, coy randomly swimming under the stairs, for 200 a month, friendly prices. The guesthouse was 300 and was chock-full of foreign teachers, but here I get invited to dinner with the family and eat a couple of bites of pork or something because I am not the biggest bitch in the world and am going to push away food people are giving me when I am starving.
The guy is French and I say Merci when he pours beer out of a 40 oz. bottle about 8 ways for all of us eating, he likes this. Finally, I find out there is a Taiwanese guy named Johnny living upstairs from me, a chemical engineer who has lived here in Saigon for three years and at this place for a year and a half. He rides his bike to work as it is only ten minutes away, and says I can use it whenever he’s not. He has a rice cooker in his room; I love that he’s told me this right off the bat.
Wow, I’ve been typing like crazy and I still feel like there is so much more of course I am sure that there is, we had bamboo soup for dinner, and some crazy drink that tasted like grass. I have had several remarks that I am good with chopsticks. They actually act like you are a guest in their country; I can see why people do not want to leave and don’t. That said, I miss all of you family and friends greatly. Think of you all the time, always. Am ready to have visitors. Although you will have to let me know in advance so Madam Thuy can register you with the Vietnamese officials lest she get fined 500 bucks.
Time to see if I can get some work done now…ooh except there is a cat here with a broken tail that sat by my feet during dinner and when they were all talking in Vietnamese I held my finger down to its nose and it nudged it as cats do and I thought I spoke its language as much as anyone else’s.
I don’t know who is reading this but as these things go, if it is being read you are reading it, hello and thank you. Feel a bit like I’m throwing it out into the void, not that I am going for definitive lines around me.