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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quick update!

Hello friends and family!

We've been in Vietnam for almost a week. Things are still going great! We're starting to feel homesick, but we knew that would happen. Thank goodness for skype! If you haven't already signed up, please do. When you do, look us up: smsmissy and/or billy943skype.

We're starting to get more familiarized with our new neighborhood. We've finally figured out how to walk to the market and other fun shops in An Phu (the name of our neighborhood). We've also been to District 1 (downtown area) several times and are starting to learn where we are going. It's still going to take plenty of time to be completely comfortable, but we're getting there. The most difficult barrier so far has been language. We've started writing things down and that seems to help. I know I've said this before, but the Vietnamese are amazing. I love their spirit and sense of kindness and good will. They are so happy to help and always have a smile on their face. We've run into a few that have asked where we are from. When we say America, they get so excited! Oh! Did I mention that I FINALLY found a hair dryer that works! Thank goodness!!!

We've visited our new school and so far the staff/administration have been wonderful and extremely helpful. We've also met some very nice people. We've met a few British, Australians, Scottish and Canadians. No Americans so far. Everyone really looks out for each other. For instance, we were invited to have lunch with a couple (Victoria and Neil) we will be teaching with. We ate and parted ways in the city. At about 9 pm, we got a phone call from Victoria making sure we made it home safely. The phone call made my day!!!

We bought a couch today to replace our hideous furniture. It is a custom made sectional. I won't give you an exact price, but we got a great deal and we're SO excited to have comfy furniture. I haven't talked a whole bunch about the food yet...it's great! There are many restaurants that cater to Westerners and the Asian fare is delish! One of my favorite things so far is the fresh fruit juices. They are freshly squeezed and are absolutely to die for. My favorite so far has been the watermelon and pineapple juice. I ordered one from the cafe next door and it took him 15 minutes because he was chopping and squeezing everything fresh. SO GOOD!!!!!And everything is SOOOO cheap! I got a 70 minute, full body massage for $6...I tipped $4, so I got that massage for $10! Crazy!

Nothing too exciting just yet. We're still trying to get our bearings. We'll post pics soon enough. Bill and I are planning a quick weekend getaway in about a month to one of the many beautiful Vietnamese beaches. I'll post pics of that. In the meantime, here's a video of sunset on the Saigon river. Once I'm comfortable taking pics in the city (dodging motorbikes!), I'll post some of those as well.

Love to all!
Missy and Bill
video

Monday, July 26, 2010

A great day in Vietnam!


First, Justin and Carrie- I tried to post a comment to your comments but blogger wouldn't let me. :( Justin, no, we didn't buy Fruity Pebbles...yet. Give me a month. Also, the music's not bad, although we've heard that Jason Mraz song, "I'm Yours" about 500 times. I thought I'd be able to escape it once I was here, but nope. Oh, and we heard Lady Gaga in the Korean airport!!! Carrie- thanks so much for the well wishes. xoxo

What an awesome day! First, we went to our new school and met a lot of very nice and helpful people. I met my new principal and saw we saw our new classrooms. My classroom is temporary until October when the construction of our school will be complete. One of our co workers drew us a map of places to go in the area and we decided to venture off on a great walk in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is very hip and there are LOTS of cafes, shops, markets, flower shops, and salons. We found out that one of our co workers favorite spots for a massage is VERY cheap. She was there for 90 minutes and spent about 10 dollars! Can't wait to give that a shot!!! We decided to go shopping for a new couch. We haven't decided yet, but I think we'll be getting a sectional because we found one for a very reasonable price.

We also went to a store called, "Decosy". There we bought a beautiful ceramic water pitcher, a ceramic soap pump and two ceramic bowls and spent less than $15. What a great deal for such beautiful pieces!

OH WAIT! I forgot to tell you about what we woke up to this morning! The doorbell rang and in came the housekeeper! We had no idea that our apartment complex provided weekly housekeeping! She changed our linens and towels, cleaned the bathrooms, dusted, vacuumed, mopped, cleaned the kitchen, etc!! It was a dream come true! I'm not used to this kind of treatment, but I don't think it will be hard to get accustomed to!!!

We are really enjoying Vietnam so far. The people are so nice and friendly. I'm such an American though! One man at a cafe/SIM card store did not understand us. Instead of trying to relay the message in another way, I just said it again in English, as if he were going to understand me the second time! I'm going to have to TRY to learn some of the language. We now know "hello" and "thank you". We are getting Rosetta Stone: Vietnamese, so hopefully that will help with some of the basics of the language. We are also learning how to use the currency a little better. Hopefully by the end of our time here, we'll be pros!

I am attaching some more photos we've taken from around the area. No real "city" pictures yet. It's awfully hard to take touristy pictures here because it's pretty crazy and busy on the streets. Pedestrians have to constantly be on the look out for motorbikes and scooters because they are EVERYWHERE! See the video below!

Love and miss you all!
Missy and Bill

Scooters in Saigon (and this is MILD):
video

A pretty boat on the Saigon River:

The water taxis for our apartment complex:


The Saigon River at Sunset:


Our pool:


Our pool again:

The bar at our apartment complex:


Bill walking along the Saigon River:


A pretty courtyard (where, by the way, we saw bats):


Bill:






Sunday, July 25, 2010

Address change

Please take note of our new address:

Melissa K. Wosmansky and Wilbur M. Laulo, Jr.
5-3 F
Riverside Apartments
53 VoTruong Toan, Thao Dien Ward
District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


XOXO

Our first shopping experience

Good Afternoon friends and family,

Today, Bill and I had our first shopping experience in HCMC. WHOA!!!! What a day! We started off walking to the market but quickly realized that the streets are labeled differently and we were getting LOST! So, we turned around and decided to get a taxi. Below are a few pictures from the walk we took.







The photos are a little foggy. It's pretty humid here and when I took the camera out, the lens fogged up! I then had to dodge scooters so I decided to put the camera away!

I was absolutely amazed at how on one street there were huge houses and wealth. Literally 30 seconds away was unbelievable poverty. I looked and Bill and said, "We are so lucky."And, we are. Here we are living in a beautiful, air conditioned apartment. And right down the street from us, people are living in shanty-like towns. We've been here for 3 days now, and I'm already humbled.

The people are so kind. Everyone we see smiles at us. Everyone is helpful and friendly. The people are so hardworking. While they are doing back-breaking work, they look up and smile at us. They are beautiful.

I didn't take any other pictures of the houses and restaurants by our place yet. We were on a mission today to get household goods and groceries. We will be setting aside a day to do all touristy stuff, so be on the look out for more pics soon!

Grocery shopping and household goods shopping was very very very different than what we're used to. We went to a store called, "Life1". It was about as big as our apartment. Not a lot of selection, but we got what we needed. Seriously, enjoy your Target, Schnucks, Walmart shopping trips! I already miss the convenience they offer. We then went grocery shopping at Au Phu Supermarket. This supermarket caters to the expat community so there were a lot of imported goods. They actually some food we were familiar with like Fruity Pebbles, Ritz crackers, Cheerios, Pringles, etc. I saw a young Vietnamese couple buying items to make an Italian dinner. How cute! We bought our essentials for about $50. Not bad!

We took a taxi home and on the way we saw a Circle K convenience store. I got excited to see something "Western".

Ok...that's about it for now. We'll keep updating the blog. We miss you all.

Love,
Missy and Bill

Saturday, July 24, 2010

View from our balcony

Hi everyone!

Bill and I are getting ready to venture out to our new neighborhood. Before we do, I wanted to post a couple of pictures of what our view is from our balcony.

Look for more pics soon!

Love,
Missy and Bill



We're finally here!

Hey everyone! This is Missy posting today! We have so much to tell you! Let's start with the plane ride!

WHOA! We have never been so tired. We began our trip flying to Chicago with no problems. We did see this in the skymall catalog. Any guesses as to what it is?




Once we got to Chicago, we needed to check in with Korean Air. Here is a picture of our plane: It was HUGE!



We only waited about 2 hours until we had to board the plane. Korean Air was great! The flight attendants were absolutely adorable! They were all wearing cute little uniforms and they all had their hair pulled back in buns with a HUGE ribbon that looked like one of those "awareness" ribbons. I would have taken a picture but I thought that might be weird. Anyway, each of the seats were equipped with their own tv set with tons of movies to watch. I watched "Diary of a Whimpy Kid" and an episode of Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond. I tried to sleep a little too. The food wasn't too bad. Bill had a Korean meal and I had the vegetarian meal. Here's my meal:



The flight was soooooo long! But, because we had our iPhones and the TV, we were fine. Here's a few pics of places we flew over. The first photo is Russia. The next photo is China.






We finally arrived in Korea about 3 pm (not sure what time that would be your time). We had to wait for 2 hours to get on our next flight. This is where my exhaustion and jet lag really took a toll on me. I was so tired I could barely formulate a sentence. Once we were on the plane to Ho Chi Minh City, both Bill and I were out like lights.

We arrived in Vietnam around 11 pm (11 am your time). It was a relatively smooth process through customs. We were greeted by Steve, the Human Resources manager at International School of Ho Chi Minh City. A van was there and ready to get us as well! Thank goodness they brought a van because Bill and I had a lot of luggage! We got to drive through the city and it was amazing! Just like I had pictured it. Tons and tons and tons of scooters EVERYWHERE. Lots of streetside restaurants and young and hip Vietnamese walking around. They quickly took us by some touristy spots, but we just drove by. I would have taken pictures once we got here of the city and such, but I was so tired and was just ready to get to the apartment and go to sleep! I'll make sure to get photos of the city once we get back down there. We've been in the apartment and the complex pretty much all day. We woke up at 1 pm and unpacked. We then had to sign up for internet and explore our new "Baxter Crossings" (where we lived in Chesterfield). And although our neighbors will never be as cool, this place puts good ol' Baxter Crossings to shame (love you and miss you, Andre and Jude!). Our apartment is really nice. We have a two bedroom, two bathroom. All hardword floors too! Here are some pictures of our new place.

Living room:







Yes, we realize that the couches are UGLY. I could deal with that if they were comfortable, but they are NOT! We're thinking we may need to get a new couch while we are here. It is as hard as a rock.

Here's our kitchen (I'll never make fun of Beth's small refrigerator again!):







Here's the guest bedroom:







Bathrooms:







Master bedroom:





For those "Dong" lovers, here's 312,000 dong!



Pretty flowers and mini bananas the school/apartment gave as a welcoming gift:





We'll be going exploring tomorrow! We're going to check out the markets and explore District 2! Wish us luck...the language barrier can be difficult at times. Almost everyone we've met speaks English, although broken English. Everyone has been SUPER friendly and helpful.

It rained almost all of this afternoon, otherwise I'd have more pics of the outside of our apartment and the surrounding areas.

Anyway, this was a looooooong blog. Until next time, friends! We love you all and miss you tons!!

Love,




Bill and Missy

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Going away party!

Missy and I had a wonderful time at the party held in our honor! It was very emotional and overwhelming. Thank you, to all of those who were able to make it out. We loved seeing all of our closest friends. We are leaving on Thursday July 22nd at 8:30am. I will post pictures after we have had time to adjust to the time difference.