Goood Morning, Vietnaaaam!

The last few days have been surreal. I can’t believe I have only been here for four days, but I’m not sure if that’s because it feels like I only left yesterday or if it feels like a lifetime ago. We have managed to pack so much in since we arrived, and I’ve been able to be a tourist here while also becoming more familiar and comfortable with the city.

Ho Chi Minh City is so different from Auckland – it was obvious even from the plane. There is the scale, of course, with the population of HCMC being almost twice that of the whole of New Zealand. But it is also things like the geography (no hills!), architecture, and road layout that make it such a foreign, and exciting, place to be. And then when you step outside, there is the heat. Luckily I seem to be adjusting well to the difference in temperature, but it’s still early days so we will have to wait and see.

Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh Markets, Independence Palace, Bu Vien Walking Street, and the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum are just some of the many sights we have seen. We have also learnt how to shop at the supermarket and cross the road. These may seem simple, but I can promise that the first time in Vietnam is not. However, I think the best thing I have experienced so far was a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, which is just outside of the city. We had a great time exploring the tunnels with our tour guide Khang, but we also learnt a lot about Vietnam’s history. This is just one step towards better understanding the culture here, and it has inspired me to do more of my own research as well.

And with all of this tourism comes the real purpose of my stay here, which is the internship experience. Starting tomorrow I will be working ASSIST VN, the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation. Exploring the city has been fun, but I can’t wait to experience Vietnam as a working resident, not just a visitor.

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