“On the other day, down the road there was a Dairy Queen (fast food chain) that was just opening. And in front of that, there was an old lady making pastries with her small trolley. And she will always be there doing her pastries. I mean, some things will never change ! And that’s what I like in Saigon.
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Mischa and I come from Canada.
Why did you come to Vietnam?
I was living in South Korea, teaching English there. I came to Vietnam several times for holidays, and I felt in love with Saigon so I decided to move here. At first, I was teaching English here.
How long have you stayed here and when will you decide to come back to your country?
I’ve been here for 4 years now, and have no plans to leave. I love here, I mean, I like to travel, and if I find somewhere else that I like better then maybe I’ll move there someday but I haven’t found anywhere yet that I like better than here.
What do you like the most in Vietnam? Why?
(Laughs) Everything, when I first came, it was the energy of the city, the nightlife, bars and restaurants here are way more exciting, always opened. There’s not always something great opened (laughs), but at anytime of the night you can find something to drink or to eat. Oh and also the mixture of the old and the new in Saigon. It’s getting more and more modern, but you can still see so many old stuffs wherever you go. For example, on the other day, down the road there was a Dairy Queen (fast food chain) that was just opening. And in front of that, there was an old lady making pastries with her small trolley. And she will always be there doing her pastries. I mean, some things will never change ! And that’s what I like in Saigon.
Do you think it is difficult to find a place to live in HCMC?
No, finding a room in Saigon was really easy.
Where do you live right now in Saigon ? What do you think about your neigboorhood ?
I live in Phu Nhuan now, at Phan Xich Long around the corner. It’s a nice neighborhood, and I like living away from district 1. But I don’t spend much time in my neighborhood. Now I am working so much that I just go back there to sleep and I wake up and go to work. And even out there, because Phan Xich Long is a popular street, you can see lots of restaurants and bars, and the mixture of old and new. It’s fun to just walk down the street and to be part of that.
Can you tell us a little story which happened during your trip ?
I had 2 friends coming to visit from Toronto. The first couple days they were in the city, we were always the 3 of us together. So, you know that crossing the streets in Saigon is kind of an adventure, but they followed me and it was fine. On the third day they were here, we were at my apartment sitting on the roof, drinking beers, having a lazy day. Then we ran out of beers, so we went across the street to the shop to get more beers, but one of my friend lost. The shop was right across the street, on Le Van Sy street, district 3. It started to be a long time since we lost him, and he is someone adventurous, so we were okay with that. Finally, he got back after maybe half an hour later, he gets back and we ask « What happened to you ? » because Le Van Sy is a super busy street, like it can be somehow busy, and the traffic sometimes never stops so he was just waiting for it to stop so he can cross the street but he just never had the confidence to cross it ! So he said that finally an old man, a uniform motorbike parking guy, got up and helped him to cross through the street by holding his hand !
That’s one of my favourite story. When you come to Saigon, you sure having a hard time to cross the street ! (laughs)
Can you resume Vietnam in one word ?
What is the biggest culture shock for you ?
No, like I said I already lived here for 4 years now, and before, I came here on vacation, so there wasn’t any culture shock in Vietnam. Even when I moved to Korea, I was expecting a huge culture shock and finally no. Like there’s a lot of things you’re a bit surprised of, but most of them are just different ways to live, every place has its own particularity. And I came here on vacation here twice already, so I knew what to expect to, so I was just excited to come. Like some things happen, and you’re just like « wow that’s weird ! » and then life goes on.
Do you consider yourself as a global citizen ?
What will be your next destination ?
Well, I don’t have any plans living anywhere else anytime soon. But there’s still part of Asia that I want to explore and that I haven’t been to yet. I’m going to Phu Quoc island next week, to see friends there. I also want to discover other parts of Vietnam I’ve never been yet, such as Da Nang or Hoi An.
Interviewed by Joanny, GlobeTrottr staff