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TRAVELER’S Guide

Monthly

JA K A RTA I N T E R N AT I O N A L S C H O O L P RO J E C T W E E K

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Vietnam

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“Vietnam Ho Chi Minh! Mounamh! Mounamh! “ - Dove

This october Jakarta International School, the second largest school in asia, takes a tour downtown and on the coast lines of Vietnam

THE REAL DEFINITION OF VIETNAM

How would  you  de)ine  Vietnam?  

War? Rank  food?  Third  world  country?  I   don’t  accuse  you  these  were  the  same   de)initions  I  furnished  before  I  actually   read  Vietnam’s  pages.  I  sat  there   wondering  with  my  pre-­‐judgmental   thoughts  about  Vietnam  as  we  drifted   across  the  sky  on  the  SQ  956.  I  waved   goodbye  as  we  parted  from  the  Changi   airport  at  which  I  assumed  would  be   heaps  different  than  Vietnam’s  own,   imagining  the  terrible  condition  in   different  aspects  of  the  country.   Upon  arrival  I  braced  myself  for  a   week  of  discomfort  and  inconvenience,   but  surprisingly  it  did  not  come  as  we   walked  across  the  suitable  carpet  )loors  of   Tan  Son  Nhat  international  airport.   Heading  towards  the  baggage  claim  I   began  to  convince  myself  that  the  

appearance of  the  terminal  had  only  been   a  minor  drawback,  that  Vietnam  was  a   neglected  country  with  a  poor  economy,   as  I  skeptically  observed  the  structure  and   class  of  the  building.  Retrieving  our   baggage  had  been  no  hassle,  and  neither   had  immigration,  other  than  the  usual   painstaking  long  line  of  individuals   wanting  to  get  their  )irst.   We  walked  away  from  Tam  Son   Nhat  airport  with  a  more  positive  outlook   of  Vietnam  but  had  not  been  entirely   convinced  and  predicted  the  next  few   chapters  of  this  episode  wouldn’t  be  as   convenient,  but  Vietnam  wouldn’t  give  up   on  their  side  of  the  argument  and  when   we  reached  downtown  I  couldn’t  provide   a  relevant  rebuttal.   Motors  over)lowed  the  streets   churning  together  and  dispersing  in   different  directions  of  the  driveway  as  

“When in the streets of Vietnam, always keep moving forward”-Russell Wiemers


pedestrians helplessly  tried  to  cross  the  streets,  only  to  be  stopped  by  a  barrier  of   wheels  and  noise.   Ho  Chi  Minh  city  contained  little  to  no  slums  countering,  what  I  had  pictured  it  to   be.  Walking  to  the  simple  yet  elegant  hotel,  I  turned  my  head  a  full  180-­‐degree  to  take  in   reality  and  differentiating  what  I  heard  about  Vietnam  and  what  was  in  front  of  me.   The  Mekong  Delta  is  de)initely  different  than  Ho  Chi  Minh  but  not  what  I  had  in   mind,  either.  Instead  of  the  polluted  streets  I  thought  I  would  come  across,  the  Mekong   Delta  is  a  place  home  to  Mother  Nature  and  natural  aesthetics.  It  is  also  home  to  about   1,000  newly  discovered  species  and  is  )illed  with  greenery  and  a  sea  of  canoes.  I  was   mesmerized  by  the  difference  between  my  Vietnam  and  the  true  Vietnam.  Whether  it’s   toward  a  person,  a  country,  or  an  object,  Vietnam  made  me  think  twice  about  other  pre-­‐ judgments  I  would  make  later.  Perhaps  it  was  bad  luck  that  had  brought  us  to  our  very   )irst  meal  in  Vietnam  and  made  us  think  so  negatively  about  Vietnam’s  cuisine.  I   continued  the  trip  with  a  mindset  that  Vietnamese  food  taste  bad.  Visiting  the  war   remnants  museum  before  hand,  we  decided  to  go  out  for  dinner  and  I  had  already   imagined  staring  at  my  platter  and  constantly  asking   the  same  question,  “What  is  this?”.  Surprisingly  not   once  did  ponder  upon  what  was  set  out  on  the  table.   It  was  not  for  reasons  that  I  recognized  the  meal  but   because  it  was  the  )irst  pleasant  meal  I  had  in   Vietnam,  The  Barbeque  Garden,  located  in  135A  Nam   Ky  Khoi  Nghua  in  district  1  of  Ho  Chi  Minh  city,  is  a   restaurant  )illed  with  lights  and  a  great  ambience  to   The beautiful greenery that decorates enjoy  a  self-­‐service  grilled  meal  on  hot  stone  plate.   Over  the  expedition  we  consumed  a  good  amount  of   the Mekong Delta )ish  but  accompanying  it  was  a  local  delicacy  in  Vietnam.  This  was  known  as  the  rice   ball,  and  it  was  rice  papers  )illed  with  vegetables,  )ish,  and  other  contents.  Although  I   grew  a  disliking  to  it,  I  noticed  our  guardian,  Mr.  White,  seemed  to  enjoy  it  very  much   and  I  sat  there  watching  him  consuming  them  like  an  engine  programmed  to  clean  up   the  plate  after  plate  of  rice  balls.  Like  the  stormy  weather,  it  struck  me  that  not  everyone   agreed  on  my  opinion  that  Vietnamese  food  was  horrible.  Fortunately,  I  did  )ind  myself  


compelled to  a  particular  Vietnamese  food  that  sparked  interest  in  my  appetite.     PHO  2000,  originally  founded  in  Vietnam,  is  a  restaurant  located  near  the  market   place  that  pleased  my  taste  buds  with  its  mixture  of  different  ingredients.  One  bowl  of   regular  size  noodles  will  cost  you  no  more  than  2  dollars  and  if  you’re  like  me,  it’s  a   price  certainly  worth  paying.  Vietnamese  food  is  undoubtedly  different    but  I  learned   that  my  statement  “all  Vietnamese  food  is  terrible”  was  an  exaggeration  and  that   Vietnamese  food  and  the  food  in  Vietnam  are    two  different  things.   The  Vietnam  War  in  1975  or  the  war  in  Vietnam,  as  the  tour  guide  would  say  it,  are   one  of  the  factors  that  in)luenced  my  negative  hypothesis  on  Vietnam.  I  assumed  the   impact  of  the  war  would  be  obvious  and   would  greatly  affect  the  lifestyle  of  the   Vietnamese  citizens,  just  the  way   someone’s  past  can  affect  them   individually.    Other  factors  such  as  the   poor  economy  and  a  large  number  of   opinions  on  its  food  led  me  to  thinking   pessimistically  about  Vietnam.  However,   Beef Nooodle Soup in PHO 2000 my  opinion  was  proven  false  and   irrelevant  taking  a  glance  at  Ho  Chi  Minh  City.  This  journey  has  given  me  a  new   perspective  about  Vietnam  and  a  new  way  to  look  at  other  countries.  So  now  when  I  ask   my  self  how  I  would  de)ine  Vietnam,  I  would  say,  “I  shouldn’t  de)ine  Vietnam,  in  fact  I   should  list  the  things  Vietnam  de)ines  and  so  far  it  has  given  de)inition  to  unbiased,   adventure,  and  a  whole  new  experience”

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Greetings from Vietnam!

The Real Definition Vietnam  

My travel article

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