On Saturday, Mum & I met up with Daniela & a couple of my favourite students (Tai & Nhi) for Ice Cream. It’s not often that the kids get to go out & it was so adorable to see them all dressed up. Once the delicious ice cream had been polished off, I thought it would be a great idea to keep them out for longer. I asked Mrs Chang if we could take the kids to the amusement arcade; to be truthful, I thought it would be a tough job as Mrs Chang can be quite serious at times, but to my surprise she was happy to oblige.
I remembered from the last time in 2007 when Son Michael took all of the kids out for a buffet meal & to an amusement arcade, which is on the top floor of Parksons (department store, District 1) so I decided it was best to take them there.
Although Tai & Nhi were excited, they were a little apprehensive & were waiting for us adults to take the lead; however once they saw us adults having a great time, their little eyes lit up & they certainly made the most of it! It was such a joy to see as these children are certainly not spoilt & you can just tell that they appreciated the time that we were spending with them.
I managed to get Mrs Chang into the spirit of things; In fact, I think she thoroughly enjoyed herself too, especially on the massage chair & air hockey game! I wouldn’t normally encourage children to go to an amusement arcade, but it does seem to help with their hand & eye coordination… honest! ;O)
All too soon, it was then time to say “tambiet” (bye, bye) to the children & Mrs Chang & Daniela, & I honestly think Mrs Chang wanted to stay out longer but it was getting late.
With my previous visits to Vietnam, I’ve never left enough time for shopping for myself & I’ve always wanted to get some Ao Dai’s made. Normally, my shopping experiences are normally hit or miss over here & being a standard size 8-10 in the UK equates to L or XL in Vietnam, which can really hit your ego!
Mum & I scoured some of the shops & we found a couple of excellent dress shops which also does tailoring. Being a standard size 8-10 in the UK equates to L or XL in Vietnam, which can really hit your ego over here!
The Vietnamese always ask “where you come from?”, and I always say that I’m ‘Viet Kieu’ (overseas Vietnamese. However, I then find myself explaining why I can’t speak Vietnamese when they start speaking to me in Vietnamese. They were very friendly young ladies & I started chatting with them & told them my story & what I was doing over here when they asked me why I couldn’t speak Vietnamese. Perhaps they took pity on me, but the two shops I went into gave me the best service ever & at very cheap prices!
On average I spent $30 (US)/Ao Dai which is tailor made for me, a few dresses at $15 (US) which is was altered for my western size & a free pair of beautiful golden shoes thrown in for free! These prices are extremely cheap for District 1 (although I did have to use my bargaining skills)!
I had found myself running out of cash & needed to exchange money; I explained my predicament to the owner of one of the shops. In turn, she took me to her friend who runs a legitimate exchange bureau on Dong Khoi Street. Apparently the exchange bureaus’ can offer people a lower or higher exchange, depending on whether they like you or not. So rather than 29000 for £1, I managed to get 29700 for £1! I guess more money for me to spend at the shop ;O)
NB. A note of caution about money in Vietnam; If you bring your domestic cash with you to exchange, please ensure that the notes are not torn or damaged in anyway, likewise when you receive money, always ensure the same. Unfortunately the majority of shops or banks will not accept currency at all, even if they have writing on them! Very frustrating if you’re not used to this notion, but I’m so glad I learnt this from my previous visits or else my GBP £ cash would be useless!
Son Michael Pham once explained the way that Vietnamese people work & do business; it is all about getting to know someone first & building relationships, rather than going straight into business mode. His advice & wisdom was certainly true & I’m so glad that not only will my clothes be ‘opened out’ to fit me, but that I opened up at the right time too!
From Vietnam, with love!