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Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle in Vietnam’

After a certainly most boring holiday spent primarily at home, I am happy to say that I’m glad that TET holidays (otherwise called Chinese New Year in other parts of Asia and Chinese-influenced communities in the world) are almost over.

Yep, I showed up at the office today, expecting our ever loyal employees to be there before me, and wallah — they’re not there! Only my dear colleague Chi was there. And so laughing at the absent employees, we had a great time just having a long and late lunch.

But what drives up my ire is that “I couldn’t access Facebook” during the entire TET holidays! In fact, I can’t access Facebook at all when I use the internet at home

Okay, some people will disagree with me about the inability or difficulty of accessing Facebook in Vietnam. Some people say that you can tweak your DNS configuration, or even use one of those proxy servers just to access Facebook.

But despite these maneuvers and sometimes, the lucky chance of being able to get online through some server, it is MUCH, MUCH MORE DIFFICULT to get into Facebook these days. Because of that, I am faced with —

* Not being able to contact friends from as far as half a globe away

* Not being informed about what friends are doing as far as half a globe away

* Missed the latest jokes, the hippest videos and the wackiest antics of a few colleagues and friends

* Missed out on a couple of friend’s birthdays

* Missed out on trends and news from the home country or the region

* Can’t announce my latest blog posts on my Facebook page

* Can’t announce my status on my Facebook page

* Can’t inform my friends about my recent travel & lifestyle articles

And most especially, I can’t access my directory of friends’ emails and phone numbers as well!

But there is also an upside to life without facebook — I get to read more blogs online. In fact, I stumbled on this funny blog from China called “Ministry of Tofu” (www.ministryoftofu.com). Aside from its witty remarks and funny, sometimes weird stories (pole dancing subway commuters, sexiest Chinese language teachers, etc.), it also features stories of the ever-present issue of “online censorship” as well.

Which means we are not alone in this problem in this side of the world ; ) At least they’re having fun and a few laughs out there in China with their queer stories . . .

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Time passes by so fast; we are back again in Saigon.

Before I found my flat which is just a block away from my office in District 1, I took up residence first for more than a week in a little hotel along Pham Ngu Lao Road, which is in the heart of the backpacker area in Saigon. I thought I would be bored to death again in that area, because if you’re not the type to drink yourself to death in the late evenings or are into shopping, you wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of the backpacker area.

Aside from showing up at the office nonetheless, I managed to spend my mornings at breakfast eating a banh mi, a baguette with slivers of pork meat or canned sardines, veggies, a little pate and a chile or two. That Vietnamese sandwich was enough to keep you going for 3 hours until lunch time.

But the best thing I liked doing at Bui Vien, a street behind Pham Ngu Lao and parallel to it, was sitting in one of those roadside cafes, and drinking their traditional iced-cold coffee with milk called “café suda”, or “café su nom” which is the hot version of it.

Normally, the type of coffee that you mix with café suda is rather bitter — and the condensed milk that they mix with it actually balances the bitter taste. But with café su nom, you drink the coffee filtered through a steel filter with the brew being catched from below in a cup.

And while you’re waiting for your coffee brew to be filtered, you look at the street and see the passing of motorists, tourists and the ordinary hectic day-to-day life in not just the backpacker area of Saigon but everywhere in the city. 

Sitting at a roadside cafe in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Simply bliss!

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Basilico at The Intercon

Basilico's interior furnishings is made of light wood which gives a very "airy", warm feeling. Note the nice overhead chandelier.

One quiet but sultry Sunday morning in Saigon, I decided to go walking around District 1, the central and business district of the city of Saigon. Well – partially walking though ; )

Café Lounging. It was such a hot day, I remember. I think I decided against walking all the way from my humble abode in District 1 to check out again a new café that my colleague had introduced to me one weekend. It was called Basilico, a new coffee place on the corner of the new Intercontinental Hotel on Hai Ba Trung street.

Decided to take a cab there instead, and when I alighted from the cab at the side entrance of the hotel, I accidentally stepped on my pants leg with my sandal and ripped the seam of my pants leg. Zounds! So much for alighting with panache and flair at the entrance.

Anyway, having looked around that someone didn’t see the little mishap except for the bellboy, I got into the entrance and positioned myself against one of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of Basilico.

The food was largely Italian with oven-fired pizzas and a fairly good array of coffees to choose from. It’s a great place to lounge around on a Saturday afternoon with your friends — your intellectual friends — so you can lazily deliberate on the future economy and your future ex-boyfriends – har har har!

Basilico - At the patio

Basilico's patio overlooking the side street.

 

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It took me about 9 months to get my life running smoothly again. It is tough to move — and even tougher to grow roots again, meet friends, check the places you used to hang around before.

Except this time, it doesn’t seem to be too unfamiliar.

We have all our places in this world — some more defined than others. Mine is an inherent feeling that as much as I want to be part of the fabric of society here, I will always be the odd one out.

Ever wonder why as much as you’d like to blend in, you seem to stuck out like a sore thumb? Yah — I look Asian, Oriental. I wear brighter colors, expose too much skin (the Vietnamese ladies always like to cover up in the hot sun while I don’t mind), have my hair dyed a brownish red color, wear too many dangling earrings.

The locals seem to know.  I’m not your average city goer — never was and never will.

All of a sudden you hope you were just born mediocre or even just your average normal Asian girl.

Slippers

My slippers welcome me to my new Saigon home!

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