02 October 2005


(bummer...new home + dial-up internet = no photos....they would have been pretty.)

24 hours in the new place and I am still in move shock. It wasn’t until I somewhat settled here that I realized what poor conditions I had been living under. And what awful conditions I almost chose to move to. If I let my mind wander, I start to feel a bit guilty about living in such a shannzy crib; after all I am in a developing country. But that sentiment is generally short-lived.

I couldn’t sleep last night because of the silence. I kept getting up to lean my head out the window and listen to crickets and other critters I couldn’t discern. I just couldn’t get enough of it. That’s what happens when you live in a big, noisy city. You forget what quiet sounds like. They are building in the lot in front of me, and I don’t know why I had thought it would bother me. It’s almost white noise compared to the past two months.

I was all excited about my first venture out into the ex-pat community. There really isn’t much here besides a few restaurants and a supermarket. Now I know what supermarkets are like in the foreign community section of big cities in these types of countries: they are stocked. Selections are huge; everything you can imagine is available. Sure, a good part of it is imported chocolate and brie and mayonnaise, but there is also the best selection of either local, or almost local, goods.

However, when I walked in to the big, blue supermarket, I thought I had made a mistake. It appeared mighty small. Possibly, it was the angle of the entrance and I wasn’t getting the full view. As with all supermarkets here, I deposited my bags in a locker after first taking out my money. I grabbed a cart and foraged onward.

There was nothing in this place. A few small aisles with only the most expensive products. Like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, at an astronomical price, but not the local brand. Same for the tuna. Then I walked over to the house wares aisle, looked at the meager selection and ungodly prices, and thanked my good senses for doing a little pre-move shopping on Friday.

MaxiMark, where I used to go every few days, has a virtual emporium of anything anyone could ever possibly need in the home. And darn good prices to boot. I bought one spoon, one fork, one bathmat, one cutting board, and three plastic bowls. But not just any plastic bowls. These have really cool pictures of ladies and flowers. There were at least twenty different designs to choose from. I figured these purchases would get me through a day or two before hitting the supermarket here for any other absolutely necessary items.

Obviously, I will need to go back into the inner regions of Ho Chi Minh City for any shopping other than what I can get in the outdoor market. I haven’t been yet, so don’t know if it is only produce and pig meat, or if they have clothes pins and brooms. I can live with my paltry kitchen utensils; after all, I do have a Swiss Army Knife, but I need all those other things like a broom and a mop. Oh crap, and an iron! Nothing like cotton clothing, line-dried, to force even the most stalwart, anti-ironer, into submission.

I would close by saying that I have an important documentary to watch on the fancy TV, (been without for longer than I’d like), but there is a problem with the cable that can’t be fixed until Monday. Still, I can listen to BBC and CNN, so it’s kind of like I have a TV. Tomorrow I’ll have the Hallmark channel!

I’ve got a watermelon that I’m about to attack with that pocket knife of mine. Should be a challenge.