Life in Saigon – Week 2

Week two in Vietnam was certainly very different to week one, and it brought with it a whole new set of challenges and experiences! While week one felt like a constant blur of changes, week two was a lot slower, and it was nice to have some consistency and stability again. I am so grateful to have enough time in Vietnam that having to isolate with Covid didn’t ruin my trip and that I was able to leave my isolation period and easily integrate back into the group. Keep reading to learn all about my second week in Vietnam!

Day 8 – 10 Covid isolation 

The rest of my week in Covid isolation was pretty boring, and I was itching to get back outside. I was especially frustrated because I didn’t have any symptoms. Luckily I was still able to experience Vietnam through food. The meals I had in lockdown were some of the best I’ve had in Vietnam – I’m not sure if that was because the rest of my days seemed boring by comparison or if it genuinely was amazing food! 

Day 11 – Out of isolation & Volunteering at the Blind School and Elderly Centre 

After testing negative twice and having no symptoms for several days, I got the all-clear to leave my room and join the rest of the group on their visit to a school for blind children in Ho Chi Minh City. The school was preparing for the children to go home for Lunar New Year, and the children seemed very excited! We were so lucky to be able to prepare gifts and lucky money for the children to take home with them for their holiday, and it was so cool to see the songs and performances they had prepared. 

After visiting the children, we also went to visit an elderly centre nearby to prepare lucky money and gifts for them. It was amazing to see how active they were in the heat when, after a week in air conditioning, I was sweating buckets! It was also very interesting to compare how elderly people lived in Vietnam to how our elderly live back at home. The ladies in the centre we visited all slept on beds with no mattresses in rooms of six. There didn’t seem to be any air conditioning, and even the chairs they sat in to eat lunch were only stools with no backs. It was very sad to think about what life was like for the less mobile elderly in the centre. While the rest homes I’ve seen back in New Zealand are certainly better resourced, I think it reflects a worldwide trend that we don’t invest enough money and care into the aged care sector. I hope that in the future things improve. 

Day 12 – Reacquainting myself with the city

After a very hot Saturday, I was happy to take the day slowly and ease myself into the noise and chaos of Ho Chi Minh City before I started my internship on Monday. I walked around some street stores and returned to the Ben Tanh Market and had to readjust to the haggling and negotiation ritual of shopping. After an overwhelming few hours, I went to get my nails done to relax! It was a great way to get myself in the right headspace for work. 

Day 13 – First day of work 

My first day of work was scary at first, but once I had a tour and got introduced to my project and workspace, I felt very comfortable. It felt a little awkward as the other two interns on the same project as I had already met quite a few people and gotten started on their parts of the project, but overall it was nice to have some New Zealand accents chatting away next to me. My internship is at NFQ Asia – a tech start-up that has grown into a multinational tech company in a few short years. Even in one day, I learnt so much about how a start-up works. I knew I would learn so much in my time there!

Day 14-16 – Work 

During the rest of the week, I continued my work on my project. It was so nice to get to know the range of people who work at NFQ! The company culture is so relaxed and open – I could definitely see why people love working there!

On Thursday night, I flew to Hanoi to begin my travels around Vietnam, as we have a whole week off of work for the Lunar New Year. It was so stressful trying to rush from work to get to the airport in time to go through security, but luckily getting through security was a lot smoother than we anticipated, and we ended up having plenty of time to relax and get dinner before we got on our flight! My next entry will explain all about my travels over Tet, but for now, I hope this blog was a great insight into my second week in Vietnam!

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