That’s how fast time runs. Past the first month. Gone are the voyages of discovery for new things and new insights. Past this “I’m doing it for the first time” feeling. Gone with the euphoria and the journey into the unknown. Or not?
Well, one thing I can definitely say. The first month is over and there will be no second “first” month. At least not in Vietnam anymore.
For the other points, of course, it depends on me if and when it will be over. I just can not stop reaching for more and going further and further on the voyage of discovery.
If someone would ask me how long it would take to settle in a foreign country, I would now answer that question with “one month”.
I have been living in my apartment for a month now and the second rent has already been transferred. Despite the minimalist lifestyle, the new home has become comfortable. That’s what I notice, especially when after work I no longer say “I go to the place where I’m staying”, but “I drive home now”. Surrounded by plastic dishes, just one spice in the kitchen and no pictures on the walls, the home feeling is slowly entering into my life.
At the moment, the only major challenge is shopping and cooking. I’ve always enjoyed cooking all those years in Germany because it gives me full control over the ingredients and their quality. Now here in Vietnam, cooking has become a bit more difficult. Most of the Europeans’ usual ingredients do not exist here, or they are simply too expensive. In order to be able to prepare a really fresh and delicious meal, I finally have to switch to the local and traditional cuisine.
This project will find its way onto my Vietnam Bucket List as a new challenge and will be started in the coming months. In the meantime, I still have the street food and the numerous restaurants available for me.
COMMUTING AND TRANSPORT
As described in an older post, commuting is one of the time-consuming and costly tasks in Ho Chi Minh City. To counteract this I have to switch to an own means of transport. And as it belongs to Vietnam, it had to be a scooter. I deliberately chose not to buy a motorbike, simply for the sake of simplicity. With the purchase more duties come to one. The purchase itself, the registration, the maintenance and at the end of my trip the sale again.
I spent a few evenings researching and found a provider that rented a simple Yamaha model. It had to be cheap and easy, no more and no less. So for a few days now I’ve got my own rented scooter with a new helmet and can finally explore the city.
But exploring equals in the first few days to an adventure, just because of the traffic. There are numerous videos and images on the Internet, which impressively illustrate how chaotic and crowded the streets of Asia are. And yes, that’s exactly how they are. And that’s exactly where I had to fight through.
But what has started as guardedly and cautious has ended up much smoother and safer. I use Google Maps only when exploring newer places. And believe it or not, I even got it out with the horn and used it on the road, same way like a Vietnamese.
As far as the driver’s license is concerned, you can not drive in Vietnam with a German driver’s license. If you want to play it safe, you should have your German document translated into Vietnamese. There are numerous agencies, or people on Facebook, who specialize in this. But even the rental stations of scooters itself offer it as a service. It only costs you a few days time and one to two million VND. Then you can unrestricted and especially legally participate in traffic.
One point I would not like to leave unsaid. The fees for any financial transactions. It does not matter if I just want to withdraw cash at the automat, make a purchase with the credit card or just transfer the rent for the apartment. Each transaction is charged with an additional fee. And as one says so beautifully in Germany: Small cattle is also crap. And so at the end of the month the small stuff join together to an unnecessary big chunk.
At the end of the month, I ask myself if it has to be this way and if there are also ways out of this cycle. Here I am already researching alternatives and consider other solutions. I am not driven by saving, but much more bypassing the banking system.
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
So after I settle in and finally have my head free, I can concentrate on the essential things in my life. Working, sports and traveling. No more and no less.
My bucket list has become so big that I have to start planning, so that I can at least visit the most important hotspots. This includes definitely a visit to Hoi An, see and experience more of Central Vietnam and also a trip to the Mekong Delta.
I even started learning Vietnamese so that the language barrier might at least appear a bit lower than it is today.
So it remains exciting.
There is only one success – being able to live life according to your own ideas.