The other day I was pondering on the bus, as one does when stuck in the vortex of public transportation, and I came to the realisation that we are living in Oppositeland. Sure, Tom and I knew it would be different over here – that was the appeal – it’s just that you tend to ignore things when you’re trying to immerse yourself into a culture. You kind of just accept things and once you’re over the initial ‘What the?‘, they don’t seem so strange. Funny how after nearly four months of living in Saigon, we are yet to experience culture shock…I would call it more culture amusement.
Here are just some of the differences to our lives back in New Zealand…
Weather. It rains all Summer and ‘Winter’ is hot and dry.
Cooking. It costs more to cook at home than it does to eat out.
The currency. 1,000 VND is basically worthless. Back home, $1,000 would buy you at least a couple weeks rent and maybe a latte.
Driving. No one owns a car. Everyone drives motorbikes and only plebs like me ride the bus. In Auckland, you drive to the corner store for milk.
Eating. It’s bad manners to completely clean your plate (something I still struggle with).
School. Kids go to school at night and on the weekend.
Skin. Pasty is actually desirable here. No bronzers in sight but plenty of whitening creams.
Teachers. They are respected here. Nuff said.
Work life. The alarm is only set for two days of the week – Saturday and Sunday. Both 6am wake up calls.
Footpaths. For anything from parking bikes to serving/eating food on but certainly not for walking.
Coffee and tea. Served cold.
Breakfast. Noodle soup and not a cornflake in sight.
Bread. Tastes like cake.
Ice cream. Served in a bread roll.
Safety awareness. Barely exists. Less of a concern for children than adults (I’m yet to see a baby wearing a helmet whilst perched on a motorbike)
Thought I better jot these down before they start to blend into normality for me…although you wont catch me slurping Pho for brekky just yet.