Saturday, August 27, 2011

settling in

Now that I have a few days under my belt, I think it calls for a bit of reflection.

So far my experience here has been somewhat of a roller coaster. There are times when I can't stop smiling about what is going and then there are times when I wonder what the heck I am doing here.

First a bit of documentation of my experience thus far:

After I checked out of my hotel, I took a taxi over to my new permanent place of residence in District 3, the Pasteur Guest House. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was going in with a completely open mind expecting a tiny little room and possibly no air conditioning. It is only $13 a night for me to stay at this place. I only knew it had a bed, private bathroom, TV, and wifi. 

Upon entering: 
  • There was no elevator and my room was on the 3rd floor. The poor doorman had to lug my 150 lbs. worth of luggage up 3 flights of stairs.  It seemed like a safe place though. A security guard was at the door at all times and there is a front desk as well. The front desk woman speaks a very small amount of English but enough to be helpful at times.
  • My first thought as I entered my room:  It was huge. Definitely bigger than any of my dorm rooms I had in college. 
  • My second thought: Oh Lord, I hope there aren't roaches. It was an old building and you could tell there was water damage so I was a little skeptical. However I have been here 3 nights and have only seen a tiny spider and a cricket thus far. Fingers crossed...
  • Third: I have a balcony!! It is quite charming with a view of the streets and fruit market across the street as well as other guest houses. It is refreshing to stand out in the morning and watch the streets come to life as all of the shops start to open.
  • Finally: the bathroom. Very clean. The shower/bath contraption is...interesting to say the least. Let's just say it is nothing like I have used in the US before. It provides reliable hot water so I am pretty thankful.
Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what it looks like:
Two beds!


right side view of balcony

fruit market from balcony

So all in all, I am thrilled. The guest house has turned out to be not just for the place I am working at. In fact, I really don't think it is associated at all with the place I am working at. There are 3 floors and 4 rooms on each floor. Only two rooms are vacant. I have no idea who my neighbors are but they aren't anyone who works at my institute. I know they exist because I hear scuffling outside but there is no peephole on my door so I can't do any nosing around. I'm sure I will bump into them eventually...

Speaking of the place I am working at, it has been a pleasure meeting all of my co-workers. After moving in, I attempted to search for the Institute of Tropical Biology and Center for Biodiversity (CBD), which was allegedly only one block away. However, none of the street numbers in VN make sense and all the street names sound the same. So as I was wandering I of course got stuck in a horrendous downpour, one like I have never seen before. As I cowered under a tiny umbrella of a motorbike repairman's stand, I tried to gain my bearings. The rain did not phase anyone though. It was like it wasn't even raining. Everyone carried on their merry way on their motorbikes with giant ponchos on. After it stopped, I eventually wandered around enough of the block I thought it was on and found the CBD tucked away on the street. It really was 5 min walk from my guest house once I found it. It does require me to cross two insane intersections though...

I first meet the guard of the building who speaks no English and I am trying to tell him who I am looking for. His name is "Duc" (which is totally not pronounced how you would try to say in English--I tried probably 6 different ways of pronouncing it to the guard before he finally understood and even then after I repeated him he laughed and I kept trying and just kept not saying it right--aaah tonal languages). But I met Duc and Truong (which seems to be easier for me to say) and they were very nice and welcoming. They showed me where my desk would be and introduced me to the secretary/my translator, Lien. She is probably the nicest most adorable girl in the world and has helped me tremendously in the past few days.

Pictures of the CBD:

where I will be working

coffee table in the room with my desk--also has a nice balcony (bad mosquitos though)

I share a room with 3-5 others

It is somewhat refreshing to have many people in one room. I think in America everyone is used to isolating themselves in their own office or cubical but it is nice to be able to talk to someone whenever you want. Especially since I have been spending a decent amount of time by myself these past few days. 

I have much more to report but this post is getting rather long. I don't want to cram it all in at once so maybe later today I will add another one. I also think I am going to the War Remnants Museum. A little nervous though, I don't want to get too depressed. It seems like an appropriate museum to attend by myself. That is all for now. I miss everyone at home.


  1. Miss you too! I'm glad you made a friend so you feel less lonely :) Yes I caved an made a blog so I can my screen name? haha