Tomorrow I am going to Newark Liberty International Airport with a one-way ticket to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After 24+ hours of traveling I will spend two weeks in Phnom Penh participating in a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) training program through an organization called LanguageCorps. I will then travel by bus to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) to complete my TESOL training and subsequently look for a teaching gig somewhere in Vietnam. I haven’t been given many details about how all of this is going to work but I’m not too worried (yet) and I’m anxious to see how it’s all going to turn out!
To be honest, I don’t really know much about Vietnam. What knowledge I do have about the country comes from reading the “Asia Pacific” section of the New York Times and watching Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel. When I found out I was going to Vietnam I did some Internet research and looked through some books, but the country still seems very foreign to me. Besides the Vietnam War, you don’t learn much about Vietnam in school so I’ll fill you in on some very basic facts that I’ve just learned.
Here is a pretty decent map of Southeast Asia.
The Mekong River, which starts in the Tibetan Plateau and runs through southern China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, ends its 2,600-mile run and divides into nine streams composing the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam where Ho Chi Minh City is located. The city has a tropical climate and the year is divided into two seasons: the rainy season, which lasts from May to November, and the dry season, which lasts from December to April. All throughout the year the weather is warm so there is no real need for me to pack my winter clothes. The other major city in Vietnam is the capital Hanoi and it is located in the north.
The population of Vietnam reaches almost 86 million making it the 13th most populous country in the world. Friends that have traveled to Vietnam warned me about the dense population but after spending time in China, I’m hoping the masses of people won’t be too much for me to handle.
Vietnam has its own distinct culture but is also known for having a lot of influence from France and China. I have heard that Vietnam is one of the best places to travel because it is developed enough that foreigners feel comfortable, yet old Vietnamese culture still has a very strong presence. I guess when I actually get there I can let you all know if this is actually true.
While I’m abroad I want to keep this blog to share with you guys the new experiences I’m going to be having. Most of my entries will focus on food and travel but some entries about my daily life in Vietnam will surely pop up. Leave comments and send me emails…I’m definitely going to miss everyone in America!!!
Love from Princeton,