We arrived at night; I think it was about 11 when we got to the hotel. We had the beers that gentleman from the school had provided, unpacked minimally, got the wifi running and did some basic checking in online, and went to sleep.
We woke up around 7 and hit the complimentary breakfast buffet. Now, I this point I was feeling pretty good about the whole jet lag situation. We'd had a decent night's sleep, and we were up at a normal time and eating breakfast.
The main feature at breakfast was pho, which was awesome.
There were two noodle soups available each morning at a little pho station. The bowls were laid out with the noodles and meat and veggies in them, and you would choose one and the server would add the broth, and optionally, sprouts and herbs. You could then add sauces, limes, and/or sliced chili peppers. The buffet also featured American-style pancakes with syrup, a different form of porridge each day (including "snake-fish porridge! No, I didn't try that one, or any of the porridges actually; the pho was too good), baguettes, fruit, and an assortment of other foods.
But getting back to that jet lag... We went out walking in the late morning and got acquainted with the neighborhood, and then pretty much crashed all afternoon. Jet lag 1, us zero.
For the next few days, that was the pattern. Breakfast and a flurry of activity in the morning, non-functionality in the afternoon, restless nights, and waking up at 4 AM to wait for breakfast to open, This is the effect of a 12-hour time shift on the biological clock.
That first night, we had dinner at the Ben Thanh Night Market, which was pretty awesome, if a bit touristy. the market vendors move their wares outdoors at night, and there are outdoor restaurants and vendors selling clothing and t-shirts and all manner of other things. We arrived early, and it was fun seeing it all being set up as vendors appeared out alleys and side streets from all directions dragging carts and folding tents.
The next morning we met our real estate agent and went apartment-hunting. We saw some high-rise apartments with awesome views of the Saigon River.
There was another family with us (also teachers at my school), and we all agreed they we were looking for someting in a neighborhood that was better for walking.
From there we headed into District 7 and split up from the other family at the agency office. This was more the kind of place we had in mind: a neighborhood with shops and restaurants all in easy walking distance. This area was almost too Western for our tastes: There was Burger King, Popeye's, Domino's Pizza, and one especially familiar sight:
But there were also a ton of local eateries and small shops. By this time, the apartments were getting to be something of a blur. Many of them were very similar. There were a couple that stood out (sometimes for the wrong reason; one was very obviously downwind of a sewage treatment facility), but a lot of them seemed alike.
But we did have one choice we agreed was the best of the lot. It was on a side street, walking distance of all the restaurants, and it had a swimming pool on the floor the apartment was on. Three bedrooms, two baths (and an actual tub in one of them; many apartments only have shower stalls). it was located in a building called My Phuc. Yes, we snickered.
It also had two balconies (spoiler alert: I'm sitting on one of them typing this). There was an elegant hotel across the street which made for a very nice view from those balconies.
Here is a look at the living/dining area:
We decided to go for it. We signed the lease the next day, which was Saturday, and we could move in on Monday.
This was also about the time that we all came down with really bad head colds. More on that next post.