Friday, February 5, 2010

the learning of bargaining skills

Well, fancy that! i am writing to you from sozo cafe in hi chi minh city - check out some of the keys on the computer are sticking so please excuse my grammar! i thought i would check out this cafe as it featured in the lonely planet book i had - turns out it much be a christian place as well as they give thanks to God on their website. i am drinking a vietnamese coffee which is amaaaazing!! the coffee here is awesome i definitely recommend it.

my trip to the mekong has been one of adventure and learning. i am learning to improve my bargaining skills, and be less of a pushover. I have been very grateful for Phung's help over the past few days, but i have determined that he was requesting alot more than the going or usual rate. It is very much a struggle as to how much to pay someone a certain amount when you know that back in your home town that would be peanuts, but here it is multiple days (weeks perhaps?) wages in one hit. Ideally you want the money to be going to the people who need it most, rather than a specific individual or middle man. Hmmm. definitely a challenge! which brings me back to my current location - sozo here employ disabled vietnamese, help to improve their english skills and give them opportunities that otherwise they probably would not have. for example, i ordered my coffee from a boy who is unable to speak. just then i had another waiter who with the help of one of the volunteers at the cafe practiced his english skills on me while testing out a new chocolate cake recipe to see which is better. mind you he did tell me which one was better to start with, but practice makes perfect!

Anyway, today i have learnt a few new things, some better than others. i have learnt (with some difficulty) how to master a toilet-paper-less toilet as is the norm in most areas here, how to barter and bargain a bit better and stand up for myself more, that i really really love cold showers, that vietnamese coffee is amazing, that pho bo (beef noodle soup) actually tastes really good for breakfast,that the vietnamese looooovve karaoke and it can go on for hours in the night and that you can fit a scooter in the middle of a bus!

i was stressing a bit over these things last night (resulting in me not sleeping much after 2am) and found parts of psalm 131;1-2 that i was reading just before that i need to take into account more, handing things over to god instead of clinging on and stressing to them.I am looking on the bright side. i may have been ripped off a bit, but i was shown the customs of the land in a way that i probably would not have seen on a tour bus, ate local food with local people and i can hope for the best that the money was distributed amongst all the people i saw! plus, i was treated and looked after well - that is a definite blessing!!

I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,

today was a good day, a long one but a good one. it is good to be off the back of the scooter though - it does tend to hurt your bottom after many many hours!! i went on a tour of the floating markets on the river and also the food markets of the town. i love fruit and vege shopping (not that i bought any this time, just observed and took some photo's with permission of course!!) and there are so many foods here that i have never seen before, plus many exotic ones you do see in aus but not all the time. the meat section of the market is very interesting - live fish, octopuses shrimp etc in buckets, chickens and ducks tied up on the ground and other meat products chopped up on display for weighing and purchase. i tried to explain how different it is in australia, not sure if phung understood how different but i tried!!

anyway. plan for tomorrow is to go to the cu chi tunnels (this time i have booked with a reputable tour group who charge the correct going rate!) followed by an open bus trip of 7 hours i believe driving up to da lat.


  1. Gemma, I am absolutly enjoying your tales of travel in Vietnam. It sounds as though you are fitting in well. It is a struggle when you know you are being ripped off, but in $A it is nothing. I am also glad that you are learning the HARD lesson of letting go and letting God lead and do the worrying for you. Will keep praying that God will reveal amazing things to you about your future as you travel this road.

  2. Hi Gemma,

    Just wanted to let you know that I am LOVING your blog. Keep sharing the internal journey as well as the things you do, as it is very encouraging and challenging.