Hello again! Today marked our first full day here in Ho Chi Minh City, and it was filled with wonderful activities all throughout. After beginning the day with a fantastic welcome ceremony at UEF filled with singing and dancing and all sorts of fun, we then set off on the main event for the day: a tour of Ho Chi Minh City.
Led by our tour guide, Johnny, we traveled across the city and saw many of the main attractions. The two major areas we stuck to, however, were the French Quarters and the area Johnny referred to as the “big market.” Aside from seeing beautiful structures such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office, we were also able to see a few signs of the development and globalization currently progressing in this country. Beginning with development, the most notable sign was the amount of construction going on in every corner of the city. No matter where you looked there were cranes and scaffolding and some new towering residential skyscraper being built up towards the sky. It was clear from the minute we began our tour why the theme of this Plus3 program is indeed development.
Additionally, the ever-increasing globalization was also quite conspicuous. Throughout the city there were both store and restaurant names that every American would recognize, whether it be Pizza Hut, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, or any of the major clothing lines. The thing that really struck me the most, however, occurred while we were walking through the “big market.” While we were traveling through the market, even though all the stations seemed to lack a lot of the technology that normal stores would have, I saw nearly all of the owners staring intently at their iPhone 7’s as we walked past. This was perhaps the best example of globalization that I saw all day.
Lastly, we finished the day with a wonderful dinner at Nhà Hàng Ngon. Throughout the meal, we were served a variety of appetizers that were completely new to me, and yet still delicious. The first three courses were appetizers, all some sort of wrap that included raw vegetables, pork, shrimp, and noodles. The last to be served was the main course, which was a noodle bowl filled with many different meat and vegetables. Over the course of the evening, there were not really any customs or table manners that were surprising to me, but the food itself was very new to me. I can honestly say I had never heard nor seen nor tasted any of the foods served tonight, but that’s what made it great. I came to Vietnam hoping to enjoy new experiences, and after the first day, I have already begun that quest. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the days have in store!