the locals

Went on the interview at the English school. Have to observe several classes and then do a demo before they give me a schedule. Planning to start teaching a few hours on Saturdays to start out. I have observed two classes. One of teenagers and one of kids, eight to ten year olds. The teenagers were pretty well-behaved, but the kids were a totally different story. I felt bad for the teacher. He didn't speak a lick of Vietnamese and the Vietnamese TA that normally helped him was out. Ten minutes into the class, the kids were coming up to me with their questions, thinking I was the new TA.

Some of the teenagers in the class.

Things with the house are going fairly well, the landlord is really nice. He's been in pretty often installing different appliances. Poor guy injured his toe and has been hobbling up and down the stairs for days, but its all finally done. The addition of Cable TV, ADSL, pictures on the walls, and some furniture and we might begin feeling at home. Will prolly get those things
done this weekend.

Our landlord, Anh Chi.

In other news, my cousins have been visiting often, so I rarely lack company. They like to take me out to the local resturants to eat. Went out for crab last night...Mmmmm.... my stomach though was not very happy with me this morning, I keep ignoring the fact that I'm a bit allergic to it.

In the process of getting necessities for the house, i.e. toilet paper , I managed to be held by security at a supermarket. The supermarkets here do not allow you to carry handbags into the store. What??? So I had to take out my wallet and camera and check my bag. Du insists on carrying the camera for me. As we're getting into the checkout line, a security
guard comes up to us and ask, "Did you lose something?" Du misplaced the camera! Man, not again.... so we said yes, its a Sony camera, could we have it back. Security guard must have seen Du leave it, but of course they were not going to make it that easy to get it back. They lead me to a back room where three men questioned me. "What else was with the camera, Miss?", they kept repeating. Ummm, I don't know. Its in a black camera case. Its a Sony. How many people actually own a digital camera around here. "What model number?" What??? Can you just give me the camera and I'll just show you the pictures of me on it? 20 full minutes of questioning and half of the questions were regarding why I spoke Vietnamese so well as a foreigner. Argghhhh...I seriously wanted to strangle them. Finally they give me the camera and then took their sweet time filling out a report. They took the camera back to get the model number and had no idea where to look for it, I had to point it out to them. Are you kidding me? Why the hell did they ask me for a model number in the first place when they didn't even know where to find it? I was fuming....

My cousin Anh Bi and the security guard that grilled me, so annoying...

Back at the house, life has been interesting. Been here three days now. The neighbors are generally a nice bunch, though a bit noisy and nosy at times. Saturday night I came home to find a huge birthday party in my alley, a.k.a. hem, which I didn't mind, only that all their bikes were propped against my front door and it took my cousin a while to move them so we could get in. Wonder how often this happens.

My hem at night.

Yesturday, around 6pm, all the kids picked my doorstep to sit on and played games with their shoes. Hmmm... went out to dinner and came back to find that the kids had been replaced by their mothers, just sitting there gossiping....As I unlock the door to go into the house, they took a moment to remind me to lock all my doors before I leave cause new houses have a tendency to be cleaned out, robbed around here... ummm, okay, thanks for the warning I guess, even though they know I already do that since they see me wrestle with the keys and locks every time I leave...My front door is apparently the place to be in the evenings.... Weird.. maybe its because I'm new and they are trying to get as much info on me as they can possibly

All that aside, I must say that my neighbors make some great food. Been eating breakfast in the hem instead of heading to Hideaway. I've had pho and these really cool mini ban xeos that are so good, not as good as Mom's but different cause they're mini. Haven't taken any picts yet, maybe later when I'm no longer the newbie in the neighborhood.

As for other parts of the neighborhood, I have to avoid certain streets here. There are a ton of shoes shops just around the corner and its taking all my willpower to not to go on a bit of a shopping spree and buy a couple of pairs. After all I did 10 pairs of shoes with me. You would think that would be enough, but no, shoes are my downfall.

got the house!!!!

We got the house!!!! Yay! I can finally move out of the hotel. I'm moving in today and Patricia will be joining me a few days later. She has to give notice at the other place she is staying. Du, my bro-in-law, took me out for che to celebrate :)

The front of the house.

An inside shot. Van would love this place since its in her favorite color.

View from the terrace.

Du, all smiles :)



crazy taser woman

So in the mornings I like to go walking and see what's in the neighborhood. Yesterday morning, there were two pretty annoying incidents involving children, all boys btw. Sigh.

In one case it was two teenagers. One about 13 and the other taller one was probably 16. They were walking towards me when all of a sudden the older one pushed the younger one into me. I have a sneaking suspicion they were out to steal my bag. Probably thought the I would reach out to grab him and the other one would come over and just slide the handbag off my shoulder. But ah, I'm pretty wary of strangers anyways especially kids. Using my free arm i pushed him back really hard. We were on a busy street so I doubted they wanted to draw any attention. They walked away disappointed. I am too, it ruined my morning.

Later on during the day, another kid blocked my path for a full 10 minutes begging me for money. I kept turning away and heading in the opposite direction, but he was fast and I couldn't shake him for a while.

Told Patricia about it and she had a great suggestion. I could go buy one of those electric mosquito swatter tennis rackets and carry that around the city with me. Its used to electrocute mosquitos and apparently hurts if you ever accidently touch the electric net.

So, every time a troublesome kid approaches I could threaten to taser him with it. I would be known around the city as the crazy taser woman. LOL!!! I thought that was such a funny idea! A bit tempted, wondering if the device requires a battery. I wouldn't really need the battery if I am just using it to threaten them.

Today, I was at the cafe again.

Where I sit in the mornings at Hideaway. The folks at Knapp should be happy to know that their going away gift gets a lot of use, huge-ass tote, notice it sitting on the couch?

I think the waiters think I'm weird cause I'm there everyday and now I've started talking to my computer and then laughing to myself. Had downloaded Skype to test and the program totally works. Connection is a bit finicky on the Mac, a bit of feedback and delay. Wondering if it is better on a PC. But then again its totally free and I did get to hear a friend's familiar voice. Now to get my family to install the program and I'm all set.

Would make my life so much simpler than using a phone card at those crowded internet cafes.

Also looked at a house yesturday. Fairly nice and the price is pretty good. Hoping to get it.

the goddess

Some picts from the last couple of days here.

LOL, I literally got seated next to a Goddess on my plane ride from New York to Taiwan. A goddess of protection no less. She hails from Flushing, New York. Her entourage was taking her to a festival in Taipei. I must say that she made a great neighbor! Allowed me to use part of her seat for legroom when I curled up to sleep on the 18 hour flight.

My view from the plane. On every flight I was consistently given the window seat right above the wing. Why? I have no clue.... Really weird....

Some folks that I met at the Hideaway cafe. Blair, fellow mac geek and architect from San Fran. He has the Nano, I'm jealous! Patricia and Bao, very cool women in finance and possibly new roomies if we can find a place together.

alone in saigon

Arrived in Saigon yesturday morning. Checked into a hotel and spent most of the day sleeping.... The flight seemed longer than usual... China Airlines's service leaves much to be desired. The food was so-so and they didn't really show any movies. Absent-minded me forgot to bring a book..... big mistake.

Later, met up with some folks at a place called the "Hideaway" Cafe. Really nice place, it has wi-fi :) As you might have guessed, I'm currently sitting here at a table sipping some tea. Had woken up wicked early, 4:30am to be exact, messed around with my computer then headed out to find some grub. Had an early morning walk to Ben Thanh market, bought a knife and some fruit, mangos and mangosteens, my favs :) Had a bit of an adventure with my phone this morning. Bought a new SIM card to use here and while browsing through the settings, I managed to lock myself out of my own phone!!! Had to head to their headquarters to get it fixed. They were pretty quick at unlocking it again. Whew!

Had a nice lunch with Roy, discussed adjusting to life in Vietnam and the possibility of me teaching web design if I was really interested. Maybe.... although it seems like I would not get a Christmas holiday if I do.... when a few of my friends will be visiting... decisions, decisions...

So now I am hanging out alone in a cafe very much missing home. Most of the people I met yesturday are working till 7 or 8pm. I'm hoping the owners here don't kick me out for not eating enough and draining their electricity.

Here are some picts of my last weekend at home.

Mom cooking her famous eggrolls.

Lana with one of my Dad's plants. He is such a gardener.

Hanging out with Lana at the park.

Being sent off at the airport by my brother and his family.


Been busy packing and cleaning out my room since my brother will be moving into it. Will post after the big move. Later :)

heart racing

Hung out with Jen and a few friends. We were heading to Tonic. Jen has a really nice car that is built for speed and whenever we hit a stop light, inevitably the car next to us wants to start racing and can I tell you Comm Ave is no place to race!

She ignores it for the most part, but at one point all the lights ahead of us are green and she decides to show them what her baby can do. The next thing I know she is zooming, maneuvering in and out, switching lanes instinctually. Out of the corner of my eye I see the other car nearly miss a pedestrian. A cop spots him and pulls him over, but not Jenny Dang cause she's dang good like that. Her car wasn't the only thing that was racing though, my heart was beating overtime. Hun, ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare? Me... tortoise.....

All picts curtesy of Jenny.

The Infamous Jenny Dang.

The other Jenny...I think she is dating my cousin. Awwwhhhhh...

The girls, beginning of the night....

and end of the night....

having some fun :)

nyc museum hopping

Went to visit my sister this past labor day weekend in NYC. Spent some time Musuem hopping with her and friends. Met up with Jee-Hee and Judy at the Whitney for brunch and to check out the Robert Smithson retrospective. The man definitely had a sense of humor, that's for sure. Also went to see Remote Viewing (Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing). Liked the colors of Alexander Ross and the chaotic lines of Julie Mehretu.

Interesting Links associated with the Whitney
Whitney 2004 Biennial

Brunch with Judes and Jeez :)

Then went to the new MoMa with my sis. They allow people to take pictures inside museums now? Kinda surrprised. They had an interesting exhibt on product design, from utensils to furniture to fabric and even the ipod. Yay Apple! Also checked out the exhibit on Cezanne and Pissarro. My sis and I both agree that Pissarro is the better painter.

Me and Kim at the MoMa.

A painting she liked....

and a painting I liked.


I wonder how I ever did it when I was younger, prolly had more nervous energy then to keep up. Used to babysit my cousins all the time until I turned 15.

Last week spent a week babysitting my niece, Thuy, who is 3, and realized kids are adorable, but quite exhausting. How do parents do it? They look to you to provide everything, especially attention 24/7. Divert your attention for one minute and lickety split, something or other goes awry. l love kids, but having my own, I think I can wait awhiile.

Thuy reaching for my camera.

Me trying to keep her entertained.

pattern language

Upcoming Exhibit at Tufts. Check it out. The opening is September 8th!

Pattern Language: Clothing as Communicator