Week 2: New and Old Family Routines in Vietnam — Diary of a Baba
Posted on July 21, 2019
Now for the really fun stuff. The actual day to day living abroad is not as glamorous, especially with a child. We can’t lie though, we’ve still been having many fun adventures. Life (more than ever) revolves around Collin, which is has made it more spacious and intentional. This is a very good thing for all of us.
New and old routines: We’re setting up new routines like where and what to eat everyday and our Netflix account (I know, priorities!). But seriously, even basic stuff that we are used to in the US like organic eggs and milk are not easy to find.
To be transparent, we live next to a mega mall (VinCom) and we love it (or at least I do). We shop a bunch at VinMart and sometimes the Annam Gourmet, which is like the Whole Foods out here (no shame). We’ve been getting Dalat milk and Tafa eggs there, the most organic-ish stuff out here. Asian Mall food too is not that bad. I’m all about it.
Images of the super awesome VinMart where you can almost get everything you need including a great meal. Mychi is pictured holding up a coconut, one of our new daily staples.
So far, we’ve pretty much been having a coconut a day and working out regularly. (Goal is to add a bánh mì, Vietnamese sandwich, to this every day too!) I’ll be in Vietnamese classes every week and I’ve even been able to do reading every day. Right now, I’m reading Black Against Empire. It is a good historical read and reminder that is especially relevant in these times. Collin is doing exercises every morning and speaking Vietnamese and eating Vietnamese food at the preschool every day. After school, we all have a daily fruit snack together to talk about our day.
Video of Collin’s morning exercise routine at the preschool.
Change and transitions: As mentioned in the last blog, we met an awesome Asian expat family from Singapore who introduced us to the preschool. We overlapped in Vietnam for 2 weeks and spent almost everyday together. It was great. That Asian expat life can be pretty lonely. We are not seen as “Asian” or “American” and definitely are not seen as both so when you meet good people, you gotta embrace it. Collin will really miss the 2 kiddos because they were his first friends at the school. The transition this week is about to get very real. We will miss them dearly too but plan on a visit on Collin’s bday in September!
Image from left to right: 1) Collin with his new friends Amia and Eli during pizza night; 2) Selfie of the adults and our new friends Lai and Stephen; 3) A selfie of all of us!
Pivots and resets: The great thing about this sabbatical is that we’ve been spending more time than we have ever together; this is also the challenge. Things have been constantly changing and we’ve been a bit off the last couple weeks so we needed a couple family meetings to set new routines and rules for the family. Just to note, the routine and rules are not just for him but us too 😉
Image from left to right: 1) Collin drawing his bedtime routine at our family meeting; 2) the full schedule/routine; 3) Family rules with our signatures at the bottom.
Missing home: There are moments that Collin misses Oakland, his friends and routines like going around Lake Merritt on his balance bike. So this Sunday we made pancakes to keep up with the rituals. No matter what, we know this is a big change for him and for all of us. We’re all missing home but we know it will be worth it. <3
Quick reflections on eating street food
This is almost the biggest contradiction we’ve had to deal with. One of the main reasons for coming to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is eating street food but again we are no longer young and single. In a nutshell, it is not very fun or easy with children.
First it is very hot or massively raining; second, there are not always a place to sit; third some places disappear if you’re not up on things. SO it’s not the most child friendly activity. Our plan now is to to explore the streets during the day when Collin is in preschool and when we are going to class in District 1. We can’t wait to try this out next week.
There have been some requests for food pics so here are a few, including some dos and don’ts.
Image from left to right: 1) Duck tacos and burritos (Yes!); 2) Asian “fusion” food. Saucy papaya salad with sesame and corn. NOT a good look. (No more); 3) Bún Đậu Mắm at the mall, which is vermicelli rice noddles with “mam” an aquired taste of shrimp paste mixed with lemon with and tofu and boiled pork belly meat (Really Good); 4) Bánh Mì, Vietnamese sandwich, on the streets for less than 50 cents (Yes! Yes!)