Finally I was on the plane from Shanghai to Saigon. Seats were too small, and I felt my legs getting swollen. I was among few foreigners on board. Of course, we look different – too tall and big. Our flight was delayed and by the time we landed in Saigon, it’s been more than 24 hours without sleep. No one bothered to check my 5 XOs.
It was 2AM, and to my surprise, there were two girls waiting for me as I went through customs. They had a sign with my name, and I happily waived at them. Girls introduced themselves, grabbed my bags, and got me into a taxi. That first night I had to share a room in a hotel with 2 more girls. All I wanted was to sleep, but it was too hot as if AC was only pretending to work with no real cold produced.
In the morning I met other volunteers, they told me that orientation was postponed till Monday!? We had free day to get used to new climate and culture. For breakfast we had bread with butter and jam and coffee/tea. Organizers moved me from the hotel to the Peace house 2 dorm with about 12 volunteers. It has a nice living area, clean kitchen, 3 bathrooms. There is a cook, who comes and makes lunch and dinner every day. Both lunch and dinner were delicious with rice, veggies, meats and tofu.
About 10 of us ventured on a tour to downtown, where we visited market. I ended up buying a necklace and a comb. Everything including food is cheap. I bought a blow dryer for $3. Fancy manicure costs only $2.5.
Let me describe surroundings in general. As we walked through our neighborhood, it looked like war just ended and everything is in slight state of recovery. Air is very polluted with fumes from the scooters. I had to buy a mask, because I realized that I will not survive here otherwise.
It seems like everyone owns a scooter and it is dangerous to cross roads if you have no experience. Swarms of scooters are everywhere. Sometimes whole families ride one scooter (mother, father and two babies).
Peter from Toronto and I risked to walk to the nearest Supermarket (15 min walk) and get some bug spray for our trip to Mekong Delta tomorrow. In oder to explain what we want to buy, we had to do a mosquito charade by making the sound of the attacking mosquito and eventually pinching the guy. He showed us the right shelf.
Other things that shocked me:
Women do not wear skirts!!! but pants.
Some people do not wear shoes…
Phu My Orphanage is closed for volunteers because of swine flu…