Thursday, June 21, 2012

Still here!

If you're reading this because you're moving to Vietnam and you want to know what it's like, it might interest you to know that after one year, not so much seems new and weird anymore. I am a lot less compelled to write about my life here now than I once was.

But I'm still here. This is a photo I took of myself right now - I'm sitting in the Highlands Cafe in the tax center and I have no work today so I am a total lady of leisure.



Work has been amazingly good for me, and I really love my job here. But there isn't enough of it! Right now, I am going through a particularly quiet patch, and so for the last 2 weeks I have only worked for 1.5 days each. I am a contractor, so if there is nothing for me to do, I don't have to go into the office. Of course, that also means that if there is nothing to do I don't get paid, but at least I get the day off, and I can do what I want.

Actually I do have a few things I could write to you about, though.

  1. I have to move again (!)
  2. The situation with my xe om drivers
  3. The ubiquitous leopard print



Last week our landlady came round and politely informed us that she intends to move into our apartment.

Apparently, our lease agreement expires in July (I think towards the end of July) and then we get chucked out of our apartment for the second time in 6 months. Do you think it's because we smell?


There's a new apartment building - called the Horizon Building - that has gone up only a block or so away from our old place at the top end of District 1. Some friends of ours are already living there and we went to look at a few apartments over the last weekend. I think we will definitely choose to move into that building - it's just going to be a matter of selecting which apartment.


The good news is that the Horizon Building has a pool and a gym. The bad news is that construction of neither is completed yet. The building manager told us that they pool will be ready in about a month (so we assume around 3 months).


Mrs Martin: So when will the gym be ready?

Apartment guy: About 3 years?

Mrs Martin: !

Apartment guy: 3 months! I mean 3 months!


Wanna take bets on whether it'll be closer to 3 months or 3 years? Next time we go to have a look a I'll get photos for you. While the pool really does look nearly ready, the gym is just an empty dusty concrete shell at this stage.


The Horizon Building, like all buildings in Saigon is going to demand a bit of double-think for me to live in it securely. I watched it being built from our old apartment last year, and although its about 23 stories high it's made ENTIRELY (like everything here, but still) of tiny little bricks and mortar. Put together by hand like an enormous lego project. The building where we are now is built in the same way - but I just struggle to trust the idea that so many little bricks can be safe...




Mr D has gone back to his home town for a month. I know this, because one day Mr Om was waiting for me outside my apartment to take me to work instead of Mr D. Mr Om is NOT as good a driver as Mr D. His bike is bigger, which should be a good thing, but he drives much more wobblier and his seat is slippery. This means that I spend the whole 30 minute sliding around - and - (I'm sorry Winnie - you may want to skip this section) - did you know that when a woman is sliding around on a slippery wobbly motorbike seat for 30 minutes at a time then her vagina tries to take charge? No, neither did I. At the end of the trip I invariably have pins and needles in my special area. Because the whole time my special area has been trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to get a grip. I'm only telling you this, because if you really are that person who's moving to Saigon and you want a few tips -well. I haven't got any advice about this aspect of Saigon transport actually, but maybe it would have been good if I had been mentally prepared?


Hurry home Mr D!




Mr Martin and I have taken to playing leopard print bingo when we go out. It's amazing, when you actually start looking for it - the incredible variety of polyester leopard print pajamas there are in this town. Being worn. On the street. In public. All the time. Obviously this is something that I need to write about in more detail with pictures, but just take my word for it - it makes a taxi ride more interesting when you've something to look for.




  1. Hope you get more work, an apartment sorted very soon and your motor bike taxi driver returns. I remember well the expat life and ups and downs and most people thought we were living the dream (they did not have to worry about the Raskals breaking in of grabbing you in the supermarket). Thinking of you both, take care.

    1. Luckily I don't really worry about raskals so much. The expat life is full of surprises, though!

  2. You need some rubber knickers so that you don't slide around on the motorbike.

    1. Rubber knickers! I bet I wouldn't be able to find any in my size, sadly. Maybe I should make my mummy go shopping for giant rubber knickers for me. I wonder what customs would think?!

  3. yes..the leopard print is fascinating..i've been wanting to do a blog post about it for some time...but can't bring myself to ask these women if i can photograph them...because then they will probably be flattered...and i'm not really trying to be flattering. haha...