It’s been exactly one month since moving to Ho Chi Minh City. Adjusting to a huge change, although worth it, has it’s pros and cons.
So, before waxing poetic about Saigon’s more attractive features, let me tell you what has been the most difficult to adjust to.
The Traffic. Most Westerners, myself included, maintain the notion that walking into oncoming traffic is not safe. In Vietnam that is not the case. If you want to cross the road, you better get comfortable walking into a mass of trucks, motorbikes, pushbikes and cars that somehow organizes itself.
The roads are both impressive and dizzying, showcasing the ways in which Asia’s collective society is different then an individualist one. In the US, at least in New York, this would never fly. Someone in a rush to get to work would do something dumb and kill everyone. But in Asia, admittedly, it works. Still terrifying though.
The heat. It’s hot and humid. Sometimes we’re given a break with a little rain, but otherwise, I’ve found myself retreating to that air con, which, thankfully, is very common here.
The air quality. Vietnam’s air pollution is among the worst in the world. At times it can feel like you’ve got chlorine in your eyes. Another reason to retreat to air con.
OK, well that was fun. Now on to the good…
The people They smile. They’re friendly. They’re into public napping and setting up hammocks literally anywhere. In other words, despite the chaos of the city, Vietnamese people are a relatively chill bunch.
Also, plus side as a women, cat calling and general annoying male aggression isn’t much of a thing here.
The food Oh, the food. If I could eat anything for the rest of my life I think it actually might be Vietnamese food. It’s pretty healthy, incorporating lots of vegetables, seafood and leafy greens WHILE STILL TASTING GOOD. And, since it’s a tropical climate, fresh fruits galore. All at extremely cheap prices (around 3-4 USD for a meal).
The English Vietnamese people want to learn English and they don’t give you flak if you don’t speak Vietnamese. It’s a sad fact for non-English speaking cultures that it’s basically essential to speak English in order to participate in the world’s economy, but Vietnam, the developing country that it is, seems to be embracing that fact well. There’s still some language barrier, but not as bad as other places I’ve been to, at least in Ho Chi Minh.
The cafe scene Coffee to-go isn’t really a thing here. In Vietnam, the thing to do is to hang out for hours in cafes, which are everywhere and all have different themes/vibes, ranging from the posh to the obscure.
Cost of living Ubers costs anywhere from 50 cents to 2 dollars. Hostels are $6-13/night. My private room in a hotel right now is costing me $15/night. Monthly rent can be anywhere from $150-450 depending on your standards.
Great place to teach English Unfortunately, I am still not Paris Hilton and need to actually work to extend my travels. A sad fact of life, but I’ll do it. Armed with a TEFL and/or a Bachelor’s degree it’s really easy to get a job teaching here. My first week here I got four interviews just from an hour or two of applying.
Great place to volunteer TBD, as I’m working on getting set up with an organization, but from what I’ve heard, you can definitely volunteer here and have a meaningful experience.