Monday, September 13, 2010

Out of Vietnam

Now that I am settled in a very nice homestay in Siam Riep, Cambodia, I finally have consistent internet access! That being said, I'm meeting my tuk-tuk (see picture below)driver shortly to go out to Angkor Wat, so I'm going to try and detail my trip thus far in installments.

Part 1: Initial impression of Vietnam
Even more than in Indonesia, the dollar is king in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Many places list their prices in dollars, not the local currency. Furthermore, the exchange rate to the Vietnamese Dong (such a great name for a currency) is about $1 = 19,800 VND. This is absolutely mind-blowing to me...
Throughout the trip, I wanted to experience the local cuisine. While my system has had two and a half months training on an Indonesian diet, I'm still a little concerned how things are going to pan out, but so far so good. Also, I've really enjoyed the different dishes I've had thus far: Bun Bo Nam Bo (stir-fried beef, veggies, and sweet sauce - Vietnamese), Com Chien Thom (Pineapple Fried Rice - Vietnamese), and Lok Lak (cooked veggies, rice, and chicken marinated in a tradition Khmer sauce - Cambodian) have been my favorites thus far.
Landing in Vietnam reminded me of when I landed in Jakarta in February. Landing by yourself in a place you've never been before can be a rather intimidating experience and all the more so when you don't know any of the language. I've been spoiled by knowing enough Bhasa to get by and understand some of the things being said around me, but it's hard to solely rely on natives knowing English. That being said, I've been impressed with the number of people who have a pretty good grasp of English, especially in Cambodia, and their willingness to come up and talk with me. While I realize I'm probably being "used" by some people to practice their English with a native speaker, I've enjoyed the conversations and especially the Cambodians have struck me as being extremely earnest.
Lastly (for part 1), thank goodness for Jessica Hores. She was my high school girlfriend who first introduced me to sushi and spent a great deal of time teaching me how to use chopsticks properly. I've never felt completely adept with them, but there have been three meals where alternatives were not available and my ability to eat the meal is solely due to her dedication to teaching me about 8 years ago. So Jessica, thank you lol.
I hope everyone is doing well!

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