Today, for our first Freaky Friday post, we will discuss about three things that highlighted my week here in Saigon:
1. Eating a gelatinous dumpling
From Monday 6 to Friday 10 June, Vietnamese people were celebrating fruits for a week during the “Fruit Festival“. They buy and eat many fruits with their family: from mangoes to plums and rambutan. Fruit prices increase significantly during this week.
On Thursday 9 June, Vietnam also celebrated Tết Đoan Ngọ (Doan Ngo Festival, aka the Dumpling Festival). On this Thursday morning, our maid Thu offered us two “bánh ú” which are pyramid sticky rice dumplings . Skeptical but curious, we opened the cake to look at its content and consistency. She explained to us that they are made with tree sap mixed with water and sticky rice, and it contains beans.
Variations exist as you can also find sticky rice with pork, eggs, fried shrimps and other ingredients.
Find the recipe here.
2. The process of buying electronic goods in Vietnam
After buying my new toy, a GoPro Hero + LCD, I needed a micro-SD card to save and stocks pictures and videos on the device. When we ride motorbikes on Tran Hung Dao at night, we usually see this electronic store called Nguyen Kim opened until late.
When I got there, I didn’t expect the process of buying electronic goods to be so extended. Once you find the item you want to buy, you need to point at it to one of the salespersons. They will give you a small piece of paper with a handwritten number. You will then need to give it to the cashier and pay the item’s price. A huge invoice will be printed on what seems to be an ancient printer. After giving it to a salesperson, they will just take and give you the item you just bought.
Interesting process which is surprising at first, it almost turns it into a game at the end. 🙂
3. The expat community in HCMC
Every Tuesday, a great evening is being held in a bar of HCMC: Mundo Lingo. On Tuesday June 7th, I went to Piu Piu Bar to experience this worldwide event.
The concept – Wear sticky flags on your shirt or arm, from your mother tongue (home country) displayed on top to all the other languages that you speak from the strongest on top to the weakest at the bottom. Other guests will be even more interested in chatting with you.
The event – I ended up spending the event with a Vietnamese girl who spoke perfect English, an American guy who spoke a funny French, a French dude who pretended to be Mexican accompanied by his Welsh guy friend. Having the flags obviously displayed helps to socialize and start the conversation. This type of event is wildly spread and organized in different big cities across the world.
The expat community – Speaking with all these people from different nationalities made me realize how much Saigon is attractive to foreigners. Whether they are just travelers/backpackers or complete expats, HCMC seems to be well-known and an appreciated destination for short-term or long-term foreign residents.
I have met an impressive number of Frenchies, a few Americans and many more people from European countries. Coming to live in Vietnam is a big challenge in terms of culture shock, but the life, food and cultural experience is worth the change. Many of the expats/travelers I came to Vietnam for a few different reasons: job opportunity, family reunion, love affair, food experience, cheap life standards among other ones.
Useful links for residents of Saigon
- You are feeling lazy to go all the way to the supermarket, just get someone to deliver your shopping list and do a good deed helping out the locals.
- Dinner time, it’s raining outside and you just got your hair done. Easy solution: order and get deliver in no time your favorite dinner meal with Vietnammm.com.
- You’re looking for some fun events in HCMC, check out Any Arena or Ticketbox for the most popular concerts, music festivals and theater plays or conferences held in Saigon and its surroundings.
Online discoveries of this week
- You want to travel in a unique way. Stay aboard Jumbo George, a fully equipped bus turned into a hostel in Grenoble, France. Check out Let’s Be Nomads for more info.
- A French soccer player became a star in Vietnam after featuring a TV ad for Head & Shoulder’s.
- We heard about Adelaide here in Saigon: an Aussie clarinet player celebrated Vietnam when he played a famous Vietnamese song on Rundle Mall.