Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Sunday in Saigon

January 8, 2017

We started out the morning well by going into the city with a few TDTU students - Nhi, Vy, and Vy Tran - for a delicious dim sum breakfast and Vietnamese iced coffee. After eating our meal, we went to An Dong market to wander through and purchase souvenirs. It was overwhelming to walk through the hectic market with so many different things to look at. We learned from the TDTU students about the process of bargaining over prices, and the best places to shop around town.

Dim Sum Breakfast
Next, we went to Independence Palace, which is an important landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. Together, we explored the different rooms within the building which were ornate and captivating. Every room had descriptions about the events that occurred inside. We went all the way to the top of the building and took in a beautiful view of the city. From the roof we ventured down to the bunker. Within the bunker was a maze of communications, mapping, and intelligence offices. Walking through the halls of a historic place made us ponder and discuss pointed history of this building. What sort of plans were deliberated in these rooms? After our palace visit, we walked and explored the streets for a while to get a better sense of the city. I felt like we were finally learning how to navigate the city's terrain.
At the Independence Palace
Later on in the day, we went to a water puppet show at a theater. Water puppets are a traditional way of storytelling. We watched the puppets dance across the water. Singing, dialogue, musical instruments and puppetry all came together to communicate a narrative. At one point, one of the dragon puppets spewed fire and wowed the crowd. After the show, we talked about our opinions and interpretations of the stories and wandered through some nearby markets. 

Water Puppet Show
Later that night, we went to a cafĂ© to meet with Katelin from USAID to discuss projects in Vietnam. Their current project centers on promoting social dialogue. It turns out that Katelin is an alumna of ILR! In addition to discussing USAID's projects, she shared her journey from ILR to the Peace Corps and eventually the USAID foreign service. 
After this meeting, we ended the day with dinner at a rooftop restaurant called “Secret Garden.” 
Until next time - Julissa

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