Ok, so we are a few days into my new life in Vietnam. I arrived on Friday. Fast forward to Sunday, which was an insanely packed day for me! In the morning, I met with the Canadian family (Roxy, Steve, and their three adopted boys) who have taken me under their wings. I went with them to their nondenominational church where over 200 people attend, majority of them being expats from Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, America, etc. but with a lot of
locals there as well. A lot of time is spent before and after the service to just talk and catch up. It's quite obvious this community is close and are all very supportive of each other. I was introduced around and met a huge amount of people. Most in their 30s and 40s with very young families. I used that as an opportunity to find potential clients for family shoots and other kids of freelance work. I'm excited about a few possibilities that were discussed. But honestly, just meeting such a great group of people was awesome.
Then was lunch with a group of families at a freaking fantastic Mexican restaurant in District One (bustling main part of the town with loads to do and eat), followed by an afternoon outing to the only bit of green in Saigon... VinHomes Central Park. Fun fact: it's styled after Central Park in New York City. These huge, massive skyscrapers and apartment complexes being built along the waterfront also have this park section that is frequented by locals and expats alike. Finding green spaces in Saigon can be challenging, and the developers obviously tried to rectify that with this park. Playgrounds, bbq pits, fountains, sculptures, walkways, bridges, ponds, gardens; it's all there. About 15 of us met up and picnicked into the late afternoon. Because the sun can be oppressive and having fair skin is more prized than being tan, once the sun started to go down, the park got packed and everyone came out to enjoy the green grass and wonderful ambiance.
THE ENTIRE DAY I WAS WITH roxy and her family, AND THAT CONTINUED INTO DINNER. WE WENT OVER TO ANOTHER FAMILY'S HOUSE FOR A NICE HOME COOKED MEAL. I HAD MET THem EARLIER IN THE DAY. THEY WERE FROM GREENSBORO, North carolina AND HAD BEEN TO WILMINGTON (where my family lives) NUMEROUS TIMES. IT WAS HILARIOUS TALKING ABOUT POPULAR PLACES TO GO IN THE TOWN where I GREW UP. IT'S A SMALL FREAKING WORLD. WE SPENT HOURS THERE LISTENING TO PHIL COLLINS (FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM, HAHAHAH), GRILLING OUT ON THE PATIO (UM HELLO IMPORTED SAUSAGES!), PLAYING WITH THE KIDS (THIS SHOULDN'T SURPRISE ANYONE who knows me), AND EATING TONS OF GREAT FOOD.
IT FEELS LIKE I'VE KNOWN THESE FAMILIES FOR QUITE SOME TIME, AND i FEEL AT EASE WITH EVERYONE I'VE MET SO FAR. I THINK COMMUNITIES OF EXPATS TEND TO GET CLOSE AND WELCOME NEW NEIGHBORS SO QUICKLY SINCE THEY KNOW WHAT'S LIKE TO BE THE NEW PERSON IN THE NEW PLACE WHERE THEY DON'T KNOW THE LANGUAGE OR CUSTOMS. IT'S COMFORTING TO GUIDE OR OFFER ADVICE WHEN YOU CAN OR WELCOME NEW PEOPLE INTO YOUR CIRCLE. AND IT WAS INTERESTING TO HEAR ABOUT THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF JOBS AND CAREERS EVERYONE HAS. THEY'RE ALL HERE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, THEIR TIMELINES ARE INDIVIDUAL TO THEM, AND YET THEY ALL CONNECT AND IT WORKS!
JET LAG EXHAUSTION HIT WHILE I WAS EATING, BUT I FOUGHT THROUGH IT AND STAYED UP THE LATEST I HAVE SINCE ARRIVING: 10:30PM!
WITH MY FIRST COUPLE DAYS BEING SO JAM PACKED WITH MEETING PEOPLE AND BEING ON THE GO NON-STOP, I TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A RELAXING DAY TODAY. GOT THE NEW COFFEE POT ALL HOOKED UP, GOT MYSELF ORGANIZED WITH EMAILS, ONLINE WORK, SOME BUDGET STUFF, AND WORKED ON EDITING MY LATEST PHOTOS! THEN ATTEMPTED TO FIND AN ATM NEARBY TO GET CASH OUT. I'VE DONE SO MUCH WITH THE OTHER EXPATS I'VE MET, IT WAS NICE TO GO OUT ON MY OWN FINALLY AND SEE IF I COULD REMEMBER WHICH STREETS LED TO WHAT AND HOW TO NAVIGATE SOLO. DEFINITELY NEED TO PRACTICE PRONOUNCING THE NAMES. XUAN THUY, THAO DIEN, NGUYEN VAN HUONG...GOTTA WORK ON THOSE. SADLY, I FOUND OUT THAT A BUNCH OF ATMS HAD THEIR SYSTEMS DOWN TODAY FOR SOME REASON, SO NO CASH! Oh well, another outing scheduled tomorrow!
after exploring my neighborhood, i headed back to the apartment and COOLED DOWN FROM THE INSANE SUN'S HEAT BY JUMPING IN THE POOL TO SWIM SOME LAPS. THEN READ IN THE SUN TO DRY OFF. IT'S A HARD LIFE, I KNOW :)
Danielle Desnoyers is a traveling freelance photographer with a focus on humanitarian, travel, and family photography. She currently splits her time between the United States and Vietnam with travels to other countries as well.