Sunday, September 12, 2010

First Few Weeks - Part 2, Housing & Laundry

By Eric

Since arriving in Da Nang, we've been living in a hotel a not too far from the airport. For people without a bike or motorcycle, the location is great! Within a five minute walk in each direction, we can get to our school, a bakery, over a dozen restaurants, and at least five coffee shops.

Here's a little tour of the room we've been living in for the past 25 days.

And here's some more info on our daily life in Vietnam.
(We're hoping this changes when we get our new housing!)

Speaking of our new housing, we took a tour of our new place this afternoon! Some construction needs to happen before we move in. Hopefully we'll be giving you a video tour of our new home in about 10 days!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Meal Time

by Karissa

Eric met me after class one day, with my poncho, since it was pouring rain. It was supper time for us, so we decided to run to the nearest restaurant. It was a bit sketch, so we ran to the next one: Red. You've already heard a story about this place (the serenade).

Well, since that evening, we've been back to Red several times, have recommended it to friends and have met other friends there for dinner. This past Friday, Liz and Suz were up from Tam Ky so we asked them to eat supper with us at Red (we couldn't host since we're in a hotel without a kitchen). Eric and I ordered grilled beef (nuong bo) and a vegetable something (rau something). Liz ordered fried shrimp (chien tom). Essentially hers was popcorn/deep fried shrimp and it came with mayo. She generously shared with us. It was amazing! I could have eaten her entire order, but stopped myself at two.

We went back to Red last night. We ordered the fried shrimp because after having only two of the delicious treats, I wanted more. We also ordered a plate of rau something (a different something than last time). Anticipation ran high as we looked forward to the crispy shrimp.

This is not what Liz got when she ordered. Yes, these are a greeny-blue, rice crispies covered shrimp. The picture doesn't show the blue rice crispies. Food, besides jelly beans and gummy bears, should not be this color.

Oh, but look at the second picture, where I've taken a bit of the "chien tom", I don't see any shrimp inside, do you? It was gooey.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting Around

By Eric

As I said last time, we're seriously considering getting motorbike. When they talked about bikes and motorbikes at training, I didn't think I'd be too interested in getting one. Last time I was overseas, I walked or took a city bus just about everywhere I needed to go. Occasionally if I was in a hurry or if I didn't know the bus number I needed, I'd take a cab.

We found out pretty quickly that the same plan isn't going to work in Da Nang. First off, there are hardly any city buses. We've seen very few city buses and even fewer bus stops. I'm not sure if that's because the city is 'small' or if it's just a cultural difference. Whatever the reason, using buses to get around isn't going to work.

The option of walking isn't going to work well for us either. Why? It's ridiculously hot. Every day from about 9 am to 6 pm, it's a 90-90 day. 90 degrees or warmer with 90% humidity. We still tough it out and walk most places. But if it's more than 30 minutes away, it's better to call a cab. You can walk it, but then the next several hours are lost as you spend time recovering from the long, HOT walk. The Vietnamese people look at us like we're crazy when we're out walking around during the day. Some days, I wonder if they're right...

So yeah, we're starting to ask around and see what we can find out about the bicycle or used motorbike market.

There are a few things that concern me about putting some wheels underneath me. First off: traffic! It's kinda crazy. How crazy? Well, during the day, I hum the theme song of Frogger while crossing the street. And if I need to cross at night, I often find myself singing a little song from this Jerry Sienfeld routine.

I will say it's amazing what you can get used to within just a few weeks. Here's a video of Karissa showing you how it's done.

And some more footage of the organized chaos.

So yes, if we get a motorbike, we will take lessons and wear helmets!

Monday, September 6, 2010

First few weeks - part 1

by Eric

Just over two weeks ago, we arrived in Vietnam. Jet lag wasn't too bad. We had stayed up most of the night taking care of last minute business, packing, and weighing our suitcases. It was a mixture of taking care of stuff we had to do and making a preemptive strike against jet lag. Our days and nights were going to be messed up soon (there's 12 hours difference between Vietnam and the Midwest), so we figured starting the process half a day early wouldn't hurt.

It was three flights to get to DaNang, with a night in a Ho Chi Minh City hotel between flights two and three. We left the campus in Pasadena at 9 am Tuesday morning and we arrived in our hotel Thursday around 7 pm!

We had a week off before we started teaching. That gave us time to get over jet lag and to start exploring our new city. Each day we either went to a new place we had heard/read about or we just picked a direction and started walking! We've found some cool things: a market with fresh veggies, fish, and live frogs, a daycare, several restaurants and bakeries, three lakes, an amusement park, a mobile pet store, a park that would be the source of dozens of lawsuits in the states, and a mini-zoo.

We also found out another key thing about life here on our exploring walks: It's hot. Really hot. We've been toughing it out and walking most of the places we go, though our walks now usually happen either very early or very late in the day. But we've quickly found out why most people ride motorbikes or bicycles. We're seriously considering joining them and are looking in to our options. More on this hopefully soon...

In the meantime, here are some pictures!

This was the 3 year old room at the daycare. There was a whole lot of cuteness packed in that room!

Karissa looking lovely by lake #1

Big sky above lake #2

We're learning how to get around in the weather conditions here. Maybe someday we can be as awesome as this guy: