Saturday, September 13, 2014
Yesterday was no different as we need to wake up early for our visit to the school we're going to teach. But, as usual, I woke up late. Right after I was done with showering, I ran to the girls to iron my clothes. I was already sweating like a dog. We then waited for a taxi under a bright hot sun. I was the last batch to reach the school. We arrived at the school 15 minutes late because someone needed to go to the loo for an early morning number two. #TMI #notme
The school was not far from our university. It has been just 3km away. As I made it to the location, I was quite surprised with the condition of the school. It is sited in the middle of a village and it looks empty; just two buildings, one house and lots of trees. The playground area was not even concrete. As we walked towards the principal's office, I discovered an odd object which happens to be a drum (Baduk). I was bewildered by the looks of that drum. In my mind, I was thinking, "what the hell do you need a drum for?"
When we reached the office, we were asked to sit down and were served tea. It was not delicious at all. It was perhaps quite bitter and smelly. The principal of the school gave a speech which he talked in Vietnamese, while Mr. Chuong (Keng) translated the speech one by one. When the principal talked, I watched my friends pretending to understand and nodding while I smiled and stared blankly to the words in that red cloth behind him. I too was pretending to take heed.
The clock struck 8am and the heat was getting to me now as I found myself wiping off my sweat from my forehead, arms and cheeks. "You'll be teaching English two days per week, which are on Tuesday & Thursday....and three hours per day," Mr Chuong said. I reverted my attention to being interested, so I could indulge all the information that was being said. That, my friend, was a happy news for me. It means we only need 2 days to be in that school. Hehe!
Aside from that, we were also told that we will be observing the class on Tuesday and will start teaching next Thursday. The classes we require to teach were from Year 6 to 9.
I know you'd probably ask yourself, "how the hell are we going to school from Uni?"
We were given a bicycle to ride from the university to the school under any conditions, whether if its on a sunny day or rainy day. But, here's my plan, I will not ride the bike but will ride a Se'om as it costs 10,000VDN per km so that's like 30,000VDN - $1.50 per ride.
Then, the sound of drumming was heard, interrupting the principal's speech. He then said, "the sound of the bell just rang." I was laughing inside and was puzzled how the sound of that drum I saw when I came in was the sound of a bell and that bell represents the lesson has ended and next lesson starts."
After a long speech, we went to the class and witnessed something amazing. We were in Year 9 and found myself awed as my expectations were wrong - they do know how to speak simple English. The class was alive and everyone was participating.
Though some were shy, but managed to be brave and introduced themselves to us. The sentences they said were as follows:
The words came out from the children made me both nervous and excited to teach them. It then turned into a funny moment when they wanted our autographs as we were exiting the room. We felt like we were superstars! We were crowded with kids, giving us their books & asking us to sign our initials in their books.
After the visit, we had a Vietnamese class to get to. The class, I have to say, is invariably fun! Even though it was a tiring day, I didn't feel dreadful to go to the class. It's one of the highlights of this program.
KFC for lunch........& dinner.
"That boring lecture"
'Unlocking The Vietnamese Culture' was our lesson for that day. We learnt all the must-have information; language, values & norms, beliefs & tradition.
I didn't remember most of the lecture as it was really boring. Merely what I do remember vividly was the language because it is vital for us to know the gist of it. The official language is Tiéng Viet and the alphabets in Viet is 29. There are different types of intonation or tones of the letter 'A' which makes it important to a word. It was amusing as its feel like learning phonics. The word 'BA' can have 2 different meanings; Bã (grandmother) and Bá (uncle). This was due to that 54 different ethnic group and majority of the total population, which is 86%, speaks Viet. I know how to speak a bit of Vietnamese now. "Thien Thai La......." which means "my name is....."
Besides that, there's the 'Values and norm' in which the country Vietnam was affected by Chinese culture back in the olden days. How one interacts with another depends on the respect given to one another. It is not alien to us as we, Bruneians, practiced that too.
Lastly, their Beliefs. Some of them do not believe in god or anything in particular, except their ancestors like we believe in God.
After that, I found myself staring into space. It was that boring.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
"Alone in the city"
On Friday, I took a taxi sapu to go to the city. He drove me to a place where there's dirt road and thought to myself, 'he's going to kill me, isnt he? Im going to die!" Just so you know, as a Bruneian, we are prone to stereotype people especially whilst abroad. Apparently, he took a short cut. I was relieved when he entered the road I'm familiar with. It was pretty cheap; my journey to Big C only costs around 300.000VDN. The conversation was limited (like always) as I recall him emphasizing hardly on the name "Big C". He did speak Viet to me which took me a while to understand. Turns out that he is going to leave me at Big C due to the fact that he has little knowledge enroute to Hoan Kiem. Its a bless that this driver left me here as I have never been to this place. This bless leads me to the idea of checking what Big C has to offer, before taking another taxi. I found out that Big C is just like Giant Brunei but way bigger. I was being extra careful as I was travelling alone, while the girls stayed at the dorm. Izza had her orientation so they decided to go to city the next day.
So, in Big C, I explored the mall from top to bottom & saw this cute bakery shop. I picked out some food; strawberry sandwich, buttermilk bun, plain croissant & this sugary sweet roll. As i looked around this beautiful bakery, i sliced my strawberry sandwich and realized strawberry means pink n pink here in vietnam shouts Pork! Thank god i didnt eat it but i did eat the bread. It was scrumptious. The pork, on the other hand, was pink & raw. Disgusting.
After exploring and salvaging to the things i want to buy, i took a taxi to my hotel named Hanoi A1 Hotel. I booked a room that was a veranda and costs me around BND$35. Upon reaching to my destination, i was pickpocketed by this guy & luckily, nothing was lost. He did stole my panadol though. As i reached my hotel, the receptionist was very friendly & very welcoming. It was nice to hear some viet speak english. He asked me what was i doing here in Hanoi to which i replied the course i'm doing. It was surprising she gave respect to me as she holds her hand ad bow down. Mind you, she's 39 and she bowed down to me. A 24 year old boy.
After unpacking my stuff, I then roamed around the city & experienced the things i couldnt get in a normal tour guide as he introduced the side of hanoi i like to see. It was a personal private tour. I cant say much in this blog post but what i can say is that i had fun. I cant post his pic nor his facebook account due to that one word that will make my parents flip. So, let me just keep it & tell you all about it - personally. Dont worry! Ask away hehe!
Eventhough my plans with this girl who was introduced to me was cancelled, I did meet some new people: Vietnamese 'out of the closet' people. I managed to ask a few questions while having a hot cocoa. Besides having the time of my life, my dinner was also perfect. Seafood pizza & vegetarion fried rice was all i need. I forgot to take the name of the restaurant. My phone couldnt wait any longer and died the whole night. Perfect!
I ended the night at 2.00am - feeling happy & worn out.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
"The rest of the week (Day 4-7)"
These past few days have been unproductive. We were in our pyjamas the whole day; eating the food we brought from Brunei and taking long naps.
Yesterday, we had an orientation which took about 2 hours of our time. It was an introduction to the Fpt University, presented by Mr Keng and also 'How to Survive in and off-campus' by Columbus, a Nigerian guy who is one of the member of Banana Team (ala Student Representative Council). It was very funny yet informative. We also get to introduce ourselves and played a classic game called "2 truths & a lie". We pretty much know each other well way before the orientation. I've been observing the people I'm with and found that it's a mixture of different types of people; loud, religious, funny, shy and of course, there's me. We pretty much get along with each other. Some are friendly and some are otherwise but who doesnt love me, right? Its hard not to. Haha!
After we finished with our short but sweet orientation, monumental thing happened as one of our friends suggested us to order this halal food from Little India (a mixture of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cuisine). It was heaven! The food was amazing! You could taste home in your mouth & the smell of the food we ordered was filling our head with the ambiance and the environment we remember of our home. I had a chicken tikka masala, chicken briyani and Chinese fried rice. I have to say I am loving the food. The price was reasonable and the taste was nearly the same in Brunei. You dont know how happy and hyper we were that night.
The next day, which was today, was living hell. We had to wake up early in the morning - around 6am, as our schedule for today was to visit the Brunei's Embassy. We had to meet him in the morning due to that he had to meet and host the visit from Brunei's ministers to Vietnam. The ambassador was Husney's uncle so I took the chance to actually meet and talk to them so I can ...you know... Hehe! We then met the wife who was very friendly. They were so chilled. They even took selfies with me! :)
Apart from that, they served us Bruneian food- food that we actually missed eating: Nasi Lemak, Cucur Udang, Mee Mamak, Daging Rendang and also this scrumptious Lemon Cheese Cake. I would like to thank them for pampering us with these delicious food. The ambassador and his wife had the chance to talk to each and every single person in the room, making us feel welcomed.
It wasn't long till we finished everything. By 1, i found myself lying on my bunkbed in my room, feeling restless. & Yes, the aircon is finally working! I kinda pity the girls who were trying to sleep every night, listening to my crazy exorcist snoring. If its werent for them, i would stuck in this room sweating my ass off.
I once said, "its a part of human nature!" to which they replied, "more like Satanic's nature!"
......& tonight, my victims will be a Chinese and a Japanese guy, who I like to call, my room mates.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
"Day 3 - Sight-seeing"
Yesterday, since we're in the city, we went for sight-seeing and a little bit of shopping. Once we're dolled up (not so much of a dolling up but more to like cleaning self up), we checked ourselves out and went straight to a small store in front of the hotel - to buy a can of deodorant. None of us brought one so yeah. Then, i opened my GoogleMap and started to wonder around the streets of Bat Dàn. That day was surprising hot. We found ourselves, discovering cute small shops that sell a little bit of everything, from fabric to hardware.
After 15 minutes of walking, we realized that we're lost so we grabbed a taxi to its centre where the Pagoda is. We then walked on the bridge to take some pictures but didnt actually get to go inside because we need to pay for it.
Twenty minutes later, we ended up at this plaza called Trang Thien Plaza. This plaza sells branded goods with prices that are not for us (for now).
After that, to golden city to shop for some essentials such as food, hanger, tissues, pillows and even foot odour eliminater. Yup. I need it! Haha!
But, here's the highlight. We got lost (again) when using taxi enroute to our university. We have told the exact location but this driver seems to pretend to understand and took us to the middle of nowhere. It was dark and I'm with three girls so we were scared as shit. We called Mr Cheung (Keng), asking him to explain to the driver the direction to our uni. We got charged 527,000 dong.
Upon arrival, we saw the boys and asked them to carry our stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention that we dont have an elevator and our apartment is situated at the 5th floor of the building (DOM A).
By that time, I was like, " I am in need of a shower, food, smoke and bed."
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Day 2 - Exploring Golden City
"Hehehe", the sound of giggles coming from the ladies. I soon realized it was already day time, 8 o'clock to be exact, and was told that we're going to have a meeting at 1pm so we have an ample of time to actually relax, have a little breakfast and a smoke break.
At 1pm, we were all dressed up to meet Mr. Cuong (pronounced as Keng), Vinh (the Program Leader) & other Bruneian students. We were taught a famous North Vietnam song named "Quán Hōc" and was asked to sing along. It was quite funny how the words are actually easy to memorize. The tone, on the other hand, is not. The words goes like this,
How long I love you? I dont know,
Maybe I love you for so long.
Since you went away, my life has been through the darkest days.
I need you! I love you with ALL my heart!
Please come and take me home!
He also told us the importance of knowing one's age, with the reason of respecting any older people. For example: Unlike Brunei, Vietnamese people who are older than you, lets say, aged 29 have the privilege to do oreat anything more than the younger people.
Apart from that, he also told us the exact location of Fpt University (or Fpt Dàk Hõp) which is in Hoa Lác. The meeting ended two hours later. After the meeting, we checked the university out. To my surprise, we actually have a big convenient store, salon and a laundromat.
We then decided to first eat some lunch in the room so we cooked some Indo Mee Goreng using rice cooker, and go on a trip to Royal City after. We called the taxi (Taxi Group) and waited for it for nearly an hour. Turns out they had a problem and delay all of the request today. It was pouring rain. I was annoyed so I asked the security for some help. Communicating with Vietnamese is really difficult and frustrating. I need to use some hand gestures to actually get some sense out of our conversation. I even tried to google translate it but he still failed to understand.
Twenty minutes later, the taxi arrived. We decided to change from Taxi Group to Sõn Táy (the taxi's name). The scary taxi ride costs us around BND$28, one way.
When reached at the Royal City, we were so amazed at how breathtaking the view was. The place is filled with lights and people, but the building is quite small from the outside.Turns out the mall are actually underground. it was so huge that we actually need the hour night to cover just one level. Another amazing this is that there is a huge space with a huge fountain in the middle of it.situated at the back of the building.
After taking pictures of the view and being Asians/ tourist-sy, we went for dinner. The food was delicious and really really cheap. Jas ate chicken while others ate fried rice. People like us always had something on the side; this time its calamari and "fries fried" (yup thats how they spelled it!).
Next, we went to FOS to shop. I bought two shirts, Nazatul bought a sweatshirt while the other two girls spent around 2 million Dong (BND$100+). Other than FOS, there are varieties of shops at the mall from Aldo to even factory outlets. I personally love 'Robins'. It's like Parkson but cheaper & selling a lot of cute stuff. I even got the time to check some sport shoes & this New Balance shoes caught my eyes. Its cute & costs around BND$86.
It was nearly 10 o'clock and the university gate closes at 10pm so we decided to check any cheap hotels available nearby. So, the two key words for you right there are "cheap" & "nearby". Clicked on this app I love called WeHostels and check any hotels or hostels available for the night. I found a hotel that cost around USD$7 per person & showed it to my friends. We didnt book this hotel but agreed to check it out. It is 4km away from Royal City.
A small backpackers hotel named Little Hanoi Hotel, which located at Bat Dan Street. The charges for the taxi ride was 160,000 Dong from Royal city and the journey took about 10-13mins.
Along the ride, we found another mall that caught all of our attention. It was big and filled with tourist. It's like a 'Quilap' kinda place but better. Way better. We also found a mall filled with branded goods from Louis Vuitton to Gucci & everything in between. To our surprised, we were actually at the city centre.
Overall,the city trip was AWESOME. Total Spontaneous! We didn't bring any toiletries and fresh clothes. It was crazy and so much fun. I cant believe the girls are really up for it.
till next time, readers.