Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chicken feet, cockroaches and plane-spotting

19.11.2014 Xin chao! Long time no write, I seem to have phases. But now I MUST write it's been a while...

So, what's happened since I last wrote. Well, I've settled more into BH life, and I really do enjoy teaching and lesson planning, and our group of BH teachers are a great bunch. We've gone for many drinks and meals together, played Monopoly (superb game!!) and gone to the cinema (60,000 for a cinema ticket, that's just under two quid. And INTERSTELLAR was frikking AHMAZINGGGGGGG). And yeah, gradually getting the hang of teaching. I adore my students. 

So what's happened...

I ordered noodles with vegetables, I got rice with chicken. I guess it works...
Vietnamese life is definitely making me more open to dodgier foods. My first Banh Mi (=sandwich) I had, I made sure they only put one out of the many dodgy meats. My future ones, I let them put everything. I'm sure I've eaten duck and much dodgier meats as well in the banh mis, but the thing is, if I don't think about it, it's fine. I still wouldn't touch a plate of duck at one of our many lunches at my centre (I've been here three weeks, and we've had three free lunches (always with an elaborate cake) celebrating something or other – the other teachers constantly remind us “not to get used to it”, but, well...), but everything else was scrumptious. :)

Lunch #1
Lunch #3
I must admit I was well happy to have Pizza Hut pizza at our most recent free lunch here. Granted it was seafood pizza (what else could you expect in this country), but I happily picked the largest blobs of crab off and it was SCRUMPTIOUS. The food in Vietnam is lovely, but sometimes you want something.... closer to home.

Talking of NOT closer to home, though, I still felt physically sick when I realised that there were remnants of feathers on my chicken at one chicken rice place - you can't be too picky here! And I really can't handle much talk about the fertilised eggs that are a speciality here... as in, eggs that already have a bird fetus in them. I apologise for sharing that with you.
Here's the chicken... It does not bring pleasant memories.
But, even though feathers on my chicken does put me off, other aspects like chicken feet (yep, they waste no bit of the chicken) does not put me off the rest of the chicken. You learn to pick out the bits that are edible. (Just to clarify, I did not touch the chicken foot. But I did have some of the rest of the chicken.)
May I tempt you with some Foot of Chicken? 
In Saigon yesterday my friends ordered fish. I was a bit unsure about it since it was an actual, whole fish and you could see the poor miserable face of that fish on the plate... But, well, picking out the edible bits, it was actually quite nice.
Never thought I'd touch this...
Street food - scrumptious but waiters do need to be reminded quite a few times what and how many you ordered....
I've even managed to order in Vietnamese once or twice (mi xao bo – beef noodles)! :) 
Ordered all by myself from our local café :) :) :) 
And the other day for lunch I think McK and I ended up eating frog. The meal (meat and rice) cost 16,000 (less than 50p), the cheapest meal yet (if you don't count banh mis, which are usually 15,000), and we chose the 'normalest' looking meat. It was nice but had tiny bones which was slightly worrying. My new friends The Malaysian Couple said immediately that it was frog. Ok, well...

One evening, after a long day at work I decided I really want some 'comfort food'. You don't get western comfort food here, but I went to this restaurant / bar / pub (I still just call it the rum place since that's where we often go for after work-drinks) which had a more... not-Vietnamese menu. I ordered spaghetti bolognaise and a 'fruit platter' as a 'side dish', well it didn't turn out to be a 'side dish'... It was mahoosive. But very delicious, tasted that new fruit, dragonfruit is it? Or something like that.
I did feel like a queen
My friend / colleague Eli from BH also introduced me to another Exotic Fruit – similar to lychees? (Or maybe they actually are lychees?) You break the skin, and pick out the slimy lychee (without letting it slip from your hands onto the floor, as happened to me multiple times) and eat it. Quite nice, except I felt a bit ill the night I had them so I don't really, like, crave them atm...
All in all, my diet isn't massively varied, noodles and rice and bread and all those carbs. I don't eat much – eating by myself is often way too much effort in a foreign land. Like, today I went into a café advertising pho (the soup). After an amusing hand-written conversation with the guy (they just don't understand me. Luckily I have learnt how to write a few words though. Except if you get the accents of 'pho' (the soup) wrong you end up saying/writing 'prostitute'. Apparently.) it turned out they have no pho, they have no food, which confused me since they had all their spices and sauces etc out... Hmm.
Yesterday's chocolate drink however was rather delicious
Food is a daily adventure here. But, in general, it is really good. 

Next topic. 

ON THE WILDLIFE FRONT: In all fairness, the animals here aren't in the best condition, but I guess that can be expected. It doesn't stop them from being ADORABLE though...

Hello sunshine
And, well, I'm sure you've all seen my facebook status, but I have now officially had my Most Horrific Encounter With Cockroach (MHEWC, pronounced “myook”). Went to pub toilet, was pleasantly surprised that this one had toilet roll (I'd estimate that it's about a 50-50 chance that your toilet has toilet paper), picked it up, and something just FELL. I guess the only reason I didn't scream/faint/pass out was my first inkling was not that it was a cockroach. I am so used to being paranoid about them that often when I get afraid of them I know that it's highly unlikely the worst will actually happen. I mean, cockroaches wouldn't actually JUMP on you... 

Wrong. Only when I swished it on the floor I realised it was a cockroach, scuttling away. I was absolutely panic-stricken, and did not touch my drink for a fair twenty minutes just coz I was scared I'd drop it because of my very, very, very shaky hands.
From the said toilet, just seconds before..............

I love the view from work.
You can see the HCMC towers on the horizon

ON THE TRANSPORT FRONT: Went to Saigon on Monday, had an awesome barbecue on the rooftop of one of our friends' house. He lives right near the airport, and I had an absolutely brilliant afternoon and evening plane-spotting and meeting my First Ever Pilot who shared many many exciting stories and facts which was very cool! And, I got to the magical number of 50 with my plane-spotting. (Give or take a few, to be fair.) I love rooftops. And aeroplanes.
Aeroplane # 14 ish


Also, more bus experiences I would like to share. After a lunch at the centre on Monday, I asked one of the TAs (teaching assistants, we have about fifteen of them I think, they're all Vietnamese) how to get to AidZz's (my airport friend) place. Suddenly there were five TA s crowded around a computer good-naturedly arguing about what the best route was, and bless them finally gave me a long set of instructions.

It involved getting a xeom to a further away bus station – well cool, went through some very scenic and interesting scenery. My xeom driver knew which bus I wanted to take (150), and lo and behold as we were pulling into the station bus 150 was just leaving. My xeom driver tried to wave at the driver/bus and stop them for me, but no.

“Oh well, no worries, I'll wait,” I said in my best Vietnamese (no, not really lol, but tried to get him to understand it). But no, the driver gestured for me to get back on the bike – he was gonna chase the bus down for me! Ok, cheers...

But, well, we did catch up with the bus, my xeom driver did wave more at the bus, but the bus driver clearly did not want silly western tourists on his bus, and ignored us. Oh well, luckily 150s seemed very frequent, so was on my way within ten minutes on the next bus.

Ooooo, AND on the fire engine front, last week we had a fire drill. I was well excited to see that it involved actual fire engines coming. And even more excited to see that it involved them hosing the building... They didn't quite reach our ninth floor. SO COOL.

Well, maybe that's enough ramblings for now. I'll try publish another entry this week since I do feel I have a lot to say. And next week, do you know what, next week: MEKONG DELTA. I_AM_SO_EXCITED.

Tam biet!
Flashback : Watermelon drink at Centre 1 on my induction day a few weeks back. AH. 


  1. Are you "fluent" with chopsticks by now? Any tips?

    Do you need your malaria tablets for Mekong Delta?

    Sorry about the motherly concerns... Anyway, a very interesting and fun blog again.

    Lots of hugs, <3

    1. Not fluent but better haha! No tips unfortunately. :P No I didn't. Malaria tablets make you mentally unstable anyways btw.


    Do the restaurants have cockroach on the menu? That way you’d get your dodgy meat and have less cockroaches accompanying you to places you don’t want them to… Can’t be less appetising than chicken feet. Actually, reminds me of an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo we rewatched recently where Rene served snails to Gruber & friends, and the snails began to crawl off the plate.

    Enjoy your adventure!

    1. I dunno what cockroach is in Vietnamese... yesterday I bought a sandwich with dodgy meat that the internet translated to me as whale... I highly doubt it was whale lol, but it was confusing and I did not eat it.

  3. Nautin sinun kirjoitustyylistäsi. Välillä tirskahtelin tosi äänekkäästi. Terveiset Vammalasta! Oikein mukavaa jatkoa ja Jumalan varjelusta seikkailuihisi! Tätskä Riitta P.S. Askolta terveisiä. Mennemme kohta mummon luo.

    1. Ihanaa lukea kommenttisi Riitta! :) Kiva että tykkäät. Kiitoksia ja paljon terkkuja Suomeen! :)