Ho Chi Minh City 2

Seda: The weekend is finally here! At least it feels like that now that we have a whole day to ourselves. HCMC here we come…

Our first stop on our sightseeing day was at the statue of the Burning Monk. Thich Quang Duc was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Thich Quang Duc was protesting against the treatment of Buddhists and gave his life in flames in a total state of meditation. I was impressed with Andy’s pre-existing knowledge which apparently was gained when he saw the picture of the Burning Monk on a Rage Against the Machine album cover back in 1992. Although the circumstances surrounding this event are extremely sad and tragic, the monument depicts the story beautifully.

Andy: I was aware of the original photograph from years ago, but didn’t really know the back story to it. To be honest I’d forgotten all about it until one of the guys from our dorm room mentioned that he’d driven past this amazing statue on his scooter whilst exploring the city. We both started looking things up online and there it was, only a 10 minute walk from where we stayed, although that turned into 20 because of dodging in and out of the shade constantly!

Seda: We then went to the War Remnants Museum. I don’t need to tell you about the tragedies lived on these lands but if you ever come to HCMC and go to this museum, please prepare yourselves mentally before catching a glimpse of the pain and suffering these people endured during the Vietnam War.

Andy: The mood inside the museum was of course very somber so you kind of just shuffle around from picture to picture in a constant state of bewilderment. On the first floor was many stories of American soldiers who deserted to Canada, and evidence of all the protests worldwide against an unjust war.

Seda: We wanted to see the famous cathedral too but as per our usual luck, it was under renovation. After having a quick look at the famous post office, we ended our sightseeing day with a nice Vietnamese dinner.

The day has to be ended in a sky bar. This place was what we could see from the window of the dorm room we stayed. As it looked all colourful and bright, we had to check it out.

Spotted in the lift of the sky bar.

In the following days, we were delighted to reunite with some of our friends we’ve met in Thailand. First Peta and Jonas, a lovely couple from Australia whom we met in Ko Samui. Coincidentally, we were not staying far from each other and a local craft beer bar, of course, was the place to get together.

Andy: We’d found the craft beer bar a few days before on the street we stayed, and so suggested to meet there. It was great to catch up with Peta and Jonas and we swapped travel stories all evening over a few pints of lovely Milk Stout. Of course we also got lots of Australian tips from them for our upcoming Aussie adventure!

Seda: We then met our friend from Texas, USA who is coming to the end of her English teaching contract in Vietnam soon. Melissa met us near where we stayed and we went for lunch in the nearby cafe where we probably drove the serving lady crazy by saying “oh, not ready to order yet, sorry” for about 40 minutes because we were constantly yakking and not looking at the menu.

While we moan about difficulties of chatting to adults learning English, poor Melissa actually has a responsibility to teach pre-school age group! Luckily we don’t have to do more than imagining how difficult that could be.

I met Melissa again in a few day’s time for a “girly day”. It was awesome! This time I went to where she lives and felt like transported to a western country seeing the wide roads, tall apartments and pavements where you can actually walk as a pedestrian without battling with scooters. We had a bit of shopping and lunch then to swimming pool where she is a member of. The nice lady who let me in as a guest, sorry we lied, I never intended to buy a membership package but we enjoyed our not-swimming-at-all-but-just-lying-there-chatting session, thank you very much.

There are certain things you have got to do with a girl from Texas and one of those is to watch the Dallas Cowboys win an American football game! Yes Melissa, I knew it too that they’d won the match played the day before but kept it cool, didn’t I?

Andy: Seda was full of beans when she returned from her girly day, I on the other hand had spent the day making arrangements for our upcoming days. Whilst I was up to my eyes in admin, she was having a lovely brunch. Whilst I was trying desperately to finish a rather tedious book, Cloud Atlas in case you were wondering (yawn!), Seda was sending me pictures of them both relaxing in the pool. I was sat in a “book cafe” so that as soon as I’d finished I could exchange it. The book that is, not the wife!

Seda : I would have very much liked to have stayed in that pub with Melissa till much later but had to go and do our final session at the coffee shop. Some of the girls noticed that I had a haircut. Why is it only ladies that notice when we change our hair I wonder? They asked me about my very first Vietnamese hair salon experience and I told them that I was very surprised by the age group of clients in the salon. I asked the ladies I was chatting to why there was only twenty somethings in the salon and no one at my age. They said “oh it’s normal, old ladies don’t need to look good anymore”! Now I know.

Top row from left: 41kg, 48kg and 42kg, bottom row 8 years old and Mrs. too old to look good anymore!

If any of you are interested in coming to Vietnam, Ly has asked us to mention that you could always get in touch with her and have a similar experience yourself helping learners with English. Just drop us a note and we’ll share the contact details with you.

Andy: I never knew opportunities like this even existed in countries like Vietnam and we hardly even looked for it. It found us, and we really enjoyed it. Vietnamese people are really friendly, and their desire to learn and improve their English is extremely admirable.

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