It's been well over a month since I've written about Saigon, so it's high time to get back to it. I do have some thoughts on India kicking around my head, but I'm holding off on putting them into a post just yet. I've got Vietnam posts loaded up and ready to go, but before I get to them I figured I'd give an update on what's been going on for me since returning from India a few weeks ago.
Work is going really well, both at the magazine and the newspaper. I worked on the cover story on international schools of the current (June) AsiaLIFE, so if you're interested check it out here: http://www.asialifehcmc.com/. There are some exciting new things coming up at AsiaLIFE, including a new website, a Bangkok branch, and an online TV channel, so I'll have more on those developments as they come to fruition. It's a good time to be working there.
Editing at the newspaper is still trucking along, and starting Monday I am also taking over as content manager of the City Diary page on their website. The page is a place where expats and locals can send in articles or stories about local life and culture and have them published. My friend Thuy, who has been running the page since its creation, is taking some time off from work and they asked me to fill her more than capable shoes. This new responsibility should help me network with some new people, and it also means I'll be making some more dong every week. Here's the link to City Diary: http://tuoitrenews.vn/cmlink/tuoitrenews/city-diary
A bunch of people I know have left in the past two months, and I now have 10 phone numbers in my contacts list of friends who are no longer here. I just can't bring myself to delete them all. This includes two of my closest friends, both of whom left earlier this month. I had known they would be leaving for a while, but that doesn't make the fact that they are gone any easier to handle.
I'll be moving out of the house I've lived in since coming to Saigon in about three weeks for a variety of reasons, the main one being that we just don't need so much space. I'm also getting tired of dealing with my helpful but extremely abrasive landlady. Anthony, one of my current roommates, and I will be moving into an apartment on the 24th floor of a building in District 5, about 10 minutes from where we currently live. The views are amazing, so I'll have some awesome pictures to post once we're settled, and rent is even cheaper than it is here.
After procrastinating for months I finally started taking Vietnamese lessons last week - I go twice a week for 90 minutes each session, and they are one-on-one with a lovely teacher named Ms. Van. There were two major motivational factors for signing up: Every time I meet someone new they ask me how my Vietnamese is, and the answer is always "terrible". Then they ask how long I've been here and I have to hang my head in shame as I mumble, "um, almost two years." That's getting a little old. I'm also the ride leader for the next year's H2H bike ride (scheduled for April) and I want to be able to take care of booking hotels, ordering meals, and getting directions in case we don't have any Vietnamese speakers. I'll have more on how the learning is going as the weeks progress.
Speaking of learning, I now know that I apparently look exactly like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. In the past two weeks I've had at least six Vietnamese and one American tell me I'm a dead ringer for the guy. If only my bank account looked like his...
That's most of the big news personally, so let's get on with some Saigon thoughts. The only trip I have planned at the moment is a visit home for Christmas (with a four-day stay in Seoul thrown in along the way), so don't expect any travel writing for a while. If you're a Vietnam reader I hope you can still see this page, because the government is apparently trying to block access to Blogger and Wordpress...though if you're reading this it's obviously not working. Anyways, welcome back to our regular Vietnam programming.