Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Chợ Bến Thành and Chợ Bà Chiểu - Carver

In Vietnamese, chợ means market. And we have gone to two markets now, Bến Thành and Bà Chiểu. Chợ Bến Thành is in the center of the city. The big bus stop is there. It is designed for tourists. Everyone there speaks English. And the mangoes cost twice as much as they would at the grocery store. In fact, everything costs more. But it's aimed at tourists. Tourists can afford it and it is more convenient. They are paying for the central location and the English-speaking merchants. It also has a roof and motorcycles don't drive through it.

But then there is Chợ Bà Chiểu. It is a 45-minute walk from the center of the city. It is for the locals. Few people there speak English. And the mangoes are very good prices (when I talk about the prices of mangoes, that is just one item for comparison.) Only parts have a roof and many parts are on the streets and motorcycles drive through the market. And while it was more crowded, it was also more authentic.

Now you have heard about the markets. But there is more to hear about. We are living in The Eastern Apartments. And yes, they are east of the city. There is a shuttle into the city and a shuttle into a different suburb of Ho Chi Minh City. But the shuttle into the city goes to the Diamond Plaza, a mall. It also stops at a different mall and department store on the way. Diamond Plaza is across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral, a big cathedral built by the French. Across the street from that is the Main Post Office. It was also built by the French. Now it is a tourist site but you can still handle any postal needs there. And Chợ Bến Thành is a 15-minute walk from the Diamond Plaza.
Notre Dame Cathedral, but much smaller than the one in France

The Saigon Post Office

Most of these people are probably not mailing things
 Also, no one has talked about the grocery stores here. For all you know, we are withering away into skeletons. But don't worry. I am not withering away from starvation. We have six grocery stores. To understand three of them, you need to know something very different and interesting. There are two towers in the Eastern. We live in one. And at the bottom of both towers are shops. Some are convenience stores, some are restaurants, there is even a kindergarten. In our base, there are two convenience stores. In the other tower’s base is a much bigger convenience store. The mall that the shuttle that goes into the city stops at is called the Parkson Cantavil. It has a grocery store in it. But the other shuttle goes and makes many stops in a certain neighborhood. That neighborhood has a place called the Sky Garden, similar to The Eastern. And at the base of the residential towers are many shops. There is a great pizza place there called the Red Tomato. But in the neighborhood are two malls, each one having a grocery store better than the one in the Parkson Cantavil. However, that bus does not come as frequently and is a longer ride. So for small, common things we go to the K-Mart, the convenience store in the other tower which is nothing like the K-Mart in the U.S. The K-Mart even has normal, refrigerated milk. But here they have UHT milk, which is milk that can be stored on a shelf until it is opened. The K-Mart doesn't carry it but the Z-Mart, one of the convenience stores in the base of our tower does. So if the K-Mart doesn't have milk, we go get the UHT milk from the Z-Mart. On bigger shopping trips, we go to the Parkson Cantavil. The shuttle that goes to the Diamond Plaza goes to the Parkson Cantavil, then to the department store, then to the Diamond Plaza, back to the department store, then to the Parkson Cantavil, and then back home. So we get off and then get the same shuttle back as it comes around again. But on even bigger trips, we go to the Sky Garden area with the bigger grocery stores. However, then we usually have to spend many hours.
When we butcher chicken in the U.S., where do the feet end up?

Or the heads?

Yesterday, we did the Mekong Delta and a couple days before that, we did the War Remnants Museum. And finally, I got a day of not going out today. It wasn't that I was tired, it was just that going out is stressful and we have been going out so much.

And one last picture to end the blog post

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