Today I woke up and went with them as well as two other girls to District 1, the city center. We went to the Ben Thanh market for a while, then realized how much of a tourist trap it was. We quickly left and walked north towards one of the city's parks and found a cafe to pass the time as a tropical storm came through. The raindrops were the size of pennies and within minutes the streets were flooded. This is not the rainy season so none of us had our rain gear with us; I was so glad to find the cafe as quick as we did because I saw other tourists sprinting through the rain, sopping wet.
The four I was with booked a trip to the Mekong Delta for next weekend, however I didn't really want to spend a whole weekend there. I instead booked a day trip there for tomorrow on the same line as the Swedes, so I will be waking up at 6:30 to make it to the bus at 8. Once in the delta we will be getting on a boat going from town to town as well as going through a floating market. I will be returning tomorrow night late, then having my orientation on monday morning with the 4 other people who also arrived this weekend.
I am so glad that our dorms are where they are. As I said before, we live in the Phu Nhuan district, which is north of District 3, and it is almost entirely populated by locals and void of tourists. Now that I think about it, I haven't even seen another white person near to the Peace House. The PH is in a small alleyway between Ho Van Hue and the tracks of the railroad, which goes from HCMC and Hanoi. It is incredibly interesting to be coming or going from the PH and pass the neighbors in or out front of their houses. I am getting to see how they live and interact much more so than if I lived somewhere full of hotels and tourist destinations. As I am writing this I am hearing the beginning prayers of a Vietnamese- Catholic funeral being chanted outside of my door by one of the neighboring families. Some of the women that live in the alley bring small stoves outside of their houses during the day and sell Pho. On the other side of the railroad tracks is a street that is essentially a really long market, but there are also internet centers, beer houses, and, surprisingly, stores that sell and make plaster statues of Mary and Jesus.
I was told that Ho Van Hue is the area for selling wedding dresses and cell phones, and walking up and down it has affirmed that. Every other store is one of the two. I guess that similar stores are grouped together across the city, which makes absolutely no sense to me, because wouldn't it be better for them to be spread out across all of the districts?
Tonight I am going to an Irish bar with Kate (Irish), Sylvia (Swiss), and Philip (British, who is leaving tomorrow). Apparently rugby is the best sport in the world, according to Kate, and she is going to explain it to me tonight as we watch her team play. I will hopefully make it an early night though, as that I have to be up so early. I would be putting up photos but I forgot my cord and will add them tomorrow...