Category Archives: travel

Phnom Penh, November II

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December 3, 2012 · 10:54


My school, ILA

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Filed under HCMC (Saigon), Ho Chi Minh, photography, photos, Saigon, travel, Vietnam

First Impressions: Vietnam

Well, Vietnam and I got off on the wrong foot.

Someone robbed me on my very first day here, but I am working really hard not to let that affect my perception of Vietnam the place.

First let me just say… Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is NOT Phnom Penh! And so it follows that Vietnam and Cambodia are in general quite different. On the surface, many things may appear similar, or even the same– but other aspects are worlds apart.

The overall “personalities” of Vietnam and Cambodia are noticeably different: Cambodians seem to be far more laid back, whereas the Vietnamese, while also very friendly, seem slightly more guarded. However, I’m staying in a placeĀ fullĀ of tourists; in these parts, I wouldn’t be surprised if any and all peoples were guarded. They are also more openly attentive to the expressions on your face– if you look confused or dissatisfied with something, they’ll ask you what’s wrong. I’m so not used to that anymore. In Cambodia, you could be crying on the street and most people will probably not ask you what’s wrong– not because they don’t care, but because they think it’s none of their business, that’s it’s rude to pry, even if you’re laying it all out there.

Holy smokes, there are a LOT of churches in this town! I mean, after being in Cambodia where it’s wat after wat after wat, I just wasn’t expecting it. Christianity has yet to catch on in any form in Cambodia, despite centuries of missions by various brands. There are Catholic churches, Baptists, JW, 7th Day, Mormons, etc. But none of them have much of a following.

There is some fantastic artwork, including wearable art like these really unique graphic tees (yeah I said it), paintings, weavings, jewelry, etc. which I so wish I could afford to buy, but of which I may just take pictures instead…

Speaking of pictures, there will be some forthcoming. I started uploading them last night, had a freak-out about my teaching session (which was today), and decided to quit and go to bed.

Teaching– ah, that’s why I’m here after all, isn’t it? The course is IMMENSELY challenging and EXTREMELY helpful thus far, and it’s only week one. I’ve had two teaching practices, both of which were okay, but lots to improve on. Our teacher-trainers are experienced, supportive, and full of useful, pertinent advice and feedback. And Vietnamese students are fun to teach!

We also have homework. Lots of it. In fact, I’m going to go do some now.


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Filed under art, changes, crazy people, culture shock, HCMC (Saigon), learning, travel, Vietnam

I’ll Be Right Back

I broke it to my students today that I will be heading back to the States for a visit soon, so I won’t be able to finish this term with them. They were surprisingly upset! It felt like a compliment. “Nooooo, chur, don’t go!” (“Chur” is their word for “teacher”– as in, they are too lazy to say the “tea” part.) I was also surprised at how sad I was; I get attached easily, I guess. I’ve only been teaching them a month.

Our Take Back the Night art exhibit opens Wednesday evening. Nervous! Excited! I hope I don’t have to give a speech… I’m not planning on it. I’ll foist it on Eileen if it comes to it. ^_^

Getting nervous for Vietnam/the States. If my travels hither and thither go off without a hitch, I will have leveled up. In maturity, that is.

Also, I am still very subconsciously racist: I use a lot of smilies when I chat with people online and I was thinking to myself, “Asia is rubbing off on me– too many emoticons.” Tsk tsk. At least I caught myself that time. (Which, isn’t that a stupid thing to think? Have I ever had tasteful discretion when using emoticons? Doubtful. Very doubtful.)

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Filed under art, changes, travel