So Saturday arrives and I drag myself out of bed and begin the pottering that I have now become accustomed to since my life is not filled with roller derby and CrossFit. I am making the most of this aforementioned pottering and I suspect I have become rather excellent at the art of procrastination in spite of having no television and very limited other time wasting devices.
It has rained torrentially and steadily since I woke up this morning & in the back of my mind & one of the reasons behind my reluctancy to do anything proper is because of the mission that awaits me – collecting my emergency Western Union money transfer. I am sort of hoping that the rain stops, or at least dies down, but in the very short time that I have lived here I have soon learnt that often it doesn’t.
I map out my route noting that it is only a 10 minute walk, the bank is open (according to this website) until 3:30pm I have managed to accomplish pretty much nothing up until this point so decide it’s time to spring.. yes SPRING into action. So I gather my passport my scrap of paper with everything I need written on it, obligatory backpack for stuff I might need to buy, bumbag with phone for music – headphones also for music. I then decide I need to re-write the scrap of paper so it’s legible in case anyone else needs to see it. Yes that’s better now it’s very neat. Flip flops are on, music is on, rain mac on, umbrella up and off we go….
See it’s not so bad, just a little gloomy & wet. Always warm too, so it’s not so bad getting wet when it’s still nice & toasty. I find the bank that’s website promised me it would still be open. It looks very closed, I can see a security guard inside but that looks about it. I try calling them, it rings & rings. I summise that this bank is shut, but as I have now established that I appear to be in some sort of financial area there are many banks. Many banks that are all closed.. Hmmm. I am about to give up when I see one that is open – the door is open – the workers are sat around eating their lunch with a security guy. HOORAY I found one, I walk in beaming ready to get all my money, & am met with gasps of horror followed by the security shoeing me out whilst telling me they are closed. AGHHHH.
That’s it I am defeated. The banks are shut my money will have to wait. I try an assortment of credit cards in numerous cash machines (it’s a bit of a luck of the draw as to which cash machines will dispense money to you at any given time) until I manage to successfully get myself millions of dong, then go & buy some completely unessential nonsense in the supermarket so it doesn’t feel like a totally wasted trip. Then I flip flop my way back across the river thinking how it sounded a lot more exciting when I spoke to Jessica in Miami. I suppose the excitement will have to wait until Monday now.
And so, when you move to a different country, and let’s not miss out the fact it is a country in Asia, and that this country is not Hong Kong, you realise that you are getting irrationally excited about ridiculous things. I thought the novelty value of these numerous situations would eventually wear off, but alas no, in fact thinking about this logically I feel like it is gaining momentum.. But let us start from the beginning…
So on my maiden voyage to Vietnam my bosses long suffering, kind and tolerant husband took us to the supermarket to show us, well to show us what was in it, where it was, that sort of thing. The fruit and vegetable section is the first thing you reach after bread, which I am not so bothered about, but actually I should digress just very briefly as I have now stumbled across another phenomenon just by the order in which the supermarket is set out…
BREAD…. Now I LOVE LOVE LOVE bread, I can eat an entire baguette before I reach the checkout, like nothing better than dunking almost an entire loaf of granary into a thimble of soup, but my body is not designed to eat bread, so I eat it as a special treat fully aware of the consequences of my actions. People here talk about bread a LOT, and to be clear, this is all people, from all backgrounds, cultures, countries, everyone. They all unite in this one simple common love, the love of bread. They get really excited about a good bakery, which bread stays freshest the longest, the different varieties.. I have even stood there aghast whilst someone has given me the run down on all of the types of breads available in the Paris Baguette bakery and how it is the best one, but extremely expensive so she only goes there for treats. Curious hey, the basic, fundamental food of the UK/Europe/France – so very expensive that it is a treat. After much discussion I have concluded that bread is the replacement for weather, because here there are two weathers – 1. HOT, 2.HOT + RAINY, that’s it, not much of a conversation is it? So here, and I could be wrong, but I feel like it’s a practical assumption, and still feels rather British or French, your conversation starter, or ice breaker is to talk about the bread!
So yes the fruit and veg section. Dragon fruit is quite possibly the most striking and exotic fruit in my opinion, they look so pretty and taste so delicious, so we didn’t get very far before I was cooing over one, it was taken to be weighed and put in my trolley. Next we had a run down on soya milk and milk with and without sugar, then I think perhaps we had got to the coffee isle and our guide had that look in his eye of total and utter despair and left to run errands. About 60 seconds later we realised we were pretty jet lagged and departed with beer and the dragon fruit.
This is one of my local supermarkets, I say one, as after a week or so you realise different supermarkets are good at different things, nothing keeps very long, so when you are here by yourself your life turns into a series of daily trips to different supermarkets where you ran out of something, or it went off, or you forgot something OR they didn’t have it.
The first 2 things I became inordinately excited about were really small limes which are sort of orange in the middle and taste like a mix between a lime and an orange. You are always taking a chance here with what you buy until you understand the language. The other was rice noodles in a bag. I particularly loved this as it reminded me of the pack ups that Henah has left on my windowsill in Belgrave from time to time…
Other things about supermarkets are free things. I can’t be sure but I think it’s worth noting that things always come with random free things. So for example my bug spray came with free washing up liquid. My healthy bacteria breakfast drinks came with a free spoon. Beer with free beer glasses. Pasta with a free canvas shopper, and a transparent shopper. You do gravitate towards the things with the free things, but I had to talk myself out of a toilet duck the other day because I didn’t need a random pink plastic basket, and I got a free umbrella somewhere else, which will come in handy yes, but did I need it? Not really..
I am sure a long time ago I saw a program where someone was trying to live from the free food you get in a supermarket. Never have I had such an extreme experience of this as here on a Saturday, in D7. I could have had: cheese, cheese & meat, yoghurt, ice cream (took that), fish, fish & cheese, noodles, rice (took that), desert I couldn’t distinguish, some sort of potent alcohol, and it is aggressive they want you to have the samples..
What happens when you come across someone of your cultural heritage? It can go either way. I was stood in the cheese section trying to work out how much this block of parmesan cost, when a large hairy American man, said ‘decisions, decisions’ so naturally being British and polite I responded with ‘I am just trying to work out if this block of parmesan really costs 9gbp’ I hadn’t even finished my sentence and he had bolted, bizarre, then in complete contrast I had a couple ask me if I was vegetarian having assessed my shopping and come to this conclusion… also bizarre..
Anyway, you cannot write a list, go to the shop and buy everything on it. It’s kind of like we have seasonal in the UK, well it’s a daily seasonal here, you can only plan ahead with things you have frozen, so when you stumble across something like DILL it provokes such a totally and utterly ridiculous reaction it takes all your strength to get it weighed and put in a bag before your eyes start to leak uncontrollably.
There is a whole nother separate post about the things you win – yes WIN at the supermarket, sit tight for that exciting adventure. In the meantime, look at how good I am getting at this – NATIVE!