Friday, August 23, 2013

The World's Best Men's Underpants

Ok, real talk.

After getting into my primary school classrooms and discovering that they were a) NOT air conditioned, as promised, and b) the teacher does not get a rotating fan pointed at them where they lecture (there are usually 5-7 fans along the tops of the walls pointed at the students, and one pointed at the teachers desk, but none at the blackboard area), I was compelled to write this post.

Let me tell you about how sweaty I get when I'm teaching. People, I sweat through my TIES. They are SODDEN, SOAKED MESSES when I get home. I can sometimes hardly pull them off. My shirt is even more of a mess - it looks like someone has picked me up and dunked the top half of me in water. I'm literally dripping sweat from my chin and nose all over English textbooks and little wooden desks for 4 hours a day, and it sucks. It's uncomfortable and the only thing saving it for me is that I'm going to drink four bottles of water in a row every hour.

But you know what's totally comfortable? My belly button to my ankles. I attribute it to two things: a) my slacks are way too baggy (almost shamefully '90's, I admit, and they need tailoring), and b) I made a stunningly intelligent decision on July 26th, 2012. That was the date I bought two new pairs of boxer briefs.

Comfortable, reliable undergarments are a thing of beauty. Let me share with you the world's most amazing men's underpants... an even more essential product now that I'm in the tropics. Stop reading now if that's not your bag.

You've been warned. Click the jump for comfort and, yes, seriously real (though not explicit) talk...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Saigon Sights: Notre Dame Cathedral

[Note: While I'm processing my first week teaching in HCMC's public primary schools, please enjoy some pictures of a fancy church!]

In separate occasions in June and July I took the time to stop by the Notre Dame Cathedral and take a few pictures of this beauty, which lies in the heart of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, not far from my favorite cafe (where I'm writing this) and the Resurrection Palace. Unfortunately they were both on Sundays, but here's a few photos of it. Enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rooftop Garden Update

Itty Bitty Baby Star Fruits! Thanks, bees!
Can I get a huzzah for gardens and how much psychic gravity they bring to an abode?

Recently I was watering the star fruit trees (yes, we actually have two! Surprise) and realized that I wasn't really very happy with the rooftop. I mean, I'm going to be here until at least the beginning of November, and to be honest, I'll probably re-sign my lease. I like the neighborhood. I know the streets and am getting to know my neighbors. I like the house. But right now, it's just that: a house. It's not a home. Yet.

Obviously, step one is to replace that bangin' patio garden I had in Chicago... this time with fewer spider plants (although I did find some for sale at a nursery not far away, so perhaps... for nostalgia's sake...).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Teaching Update: August

It's been a whirlwind August so far, and I can't believe it's almost half over! This was the month that I started teaching. It was momentous for me. Baby steps toward your 20-year goals, Ben, baby steps!

My new work location.
First up I got to sit in on a class in a private high school where they are holding classes over the summer. The class size was nowhere near what I've been told I'll have to handle in my public school classrooms, but I've heard that the students in private schools are more unruly and worse students, so there's that. We'll have to see. It was a good experience to be able to see a teacher interact with students, regardless, although apparently they were very subdued because they didn't know why I was there. No problem, Thursday afternoon English teacher. You're welcome!

Friday, August 16, 2013

My New Motorbike (For Now)!

Bike, thy name is FLEXIBILITY and ACCESS.
After months of putting it off, it dawned on me at the goat restaurant that I just can't NOT have a motorbike anymore. Getting around is easy without one, but the expenses add up - 2 bucks here, 7 bucks there, a taxi to far off locations, xe oms wherever and whenever you need them... And the hassle of haggling is something that I never look forward to (although I've gotten better at it. A little).

Initially, I'd been waiting (and waiting... and waiting... and waiting... UPDATE: ...still waiting...) to hear from my company about what public school I'd be in before I invested in either a motorbike, if it was far away, or a bicycle, if it was close by. Because I plan to be here more than 10 months, a rented bike would be more expensive than purchasing the same bike outright, and I wanted to wait and make the choice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Goats Only, Fools!*

Little individual firepits, plates of meat, and trays of veggies and rice
paper characterize these types of establishments. As well as my roommate
giving me a peace sign. Also normal.
All goat, all the time: gimmick or not? Let's explore!

Last Friday I went out to eat with a number of people from Association Long (the not-for-profit that provides and manages the houses that we foreigners live in). Our landlords were there, as were several aussies, a number of French (as per usual, since our landlords both speak French fluently), my roommate, and myself. It was a great evening!

The place was traditionally low-cost - squat toilets, dodgy bathrooms, plastic chairs, crates of beer and all. I find these places charming, although definitely not in a "bring your parents!" kind of way. It was bustling and packed when we got there a little after eight, but we were the only people there by the time we left at 10:30pm.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

From Safety Blanket to Storybook

Last month I abruptly stopped writing in this blog. I knew I'd be back, but I didn't know when. This is me saying, Good Morning (well... afternoon), again, from Vietnam!

I was stressed and I wasn't acclimating to Vietnam very well. The Gout thing happened, and I discovered that if I kept 'talking' to my friends and family back home every morning (literally, since I was posting at 6am, you were always the first thing I thought of, and the last thing I thought of before going to sleep) I was never going to be able to let go and plunge in feet first. I was finding myself obsessing over stats and page views, wondering who'd read it and who hadn't, and generally getting stupid anxious and taking myself out of the Vietnam-experience along the way. So, like a smoker going cold turkey, I cut myself off (without an explanation, which was dodgy, but I honestly didn't know what I was doing, only that I needed it. Sorry!).