Wanderlust Wendy

Saigon Chronicle

Saigon Chronicle Month 4: The Saigon vs. Shanghai Battle

I’ve just returned from 10 days of visiting Shanghai. This was my first trip back to the city since we bid farewell in June 2018. Since arriving in Saigon four months ago, despite my best effort to be objective, I couldn’t help but compare this new home to Shanghai, a city that I knew so intimately well. I suppose our experiences in this world are shaped relative to our previous … Read more

Saigon Chronicle Month 3: 90-day Resettlement – Expats vs. Refugees

I learned on an episode of Sincerely, Hueman recently that the U.S. government’s refugee resettlement program lasts only 90 days. Refugees are expected to be self-sufficient within this time frame. This week, we, the privileged expats in Vietnam, approach our own 90-day milestone. The dichotomy of our experience versus that of refugees is on my mind. Living abroad and settling into a new life is daunting, but the complexity increases … Read more

Birthday Giving: Hair Donation in Saigon

Hair Donation Saigon

Since turning 30, my desire for elaborate birthday celebrations has waned. Instead of large gatherings, I now prefer to retreat and reflect. Recently, there’s been a trend to raise funds for birthdays on Facebook, to support a good cause. This year, in keeping with the “being uncomfortable” theme, I decided to have a makeover, and do some giving of my own – with a hair donation to the Breast Cancer … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 7 & 8: Apartment Rental Search

After a month of living in our temporary apartment, we began the hunt for our longer-term home in Saigon. The process proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated, but I am happy to announce that after two weeks of painstaking search, we have been blessed by the apartment-hunting gods, and landed on a great two-bedroom apartment, with a stellar view of a rooftop pool to boot! Hopefully, my … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 6: Making Friends. Exploring Co-working Spaces.

Saigon Hem Street Photography

One of the many reasons we put an end to nomadic living was missing a community. Yet, forming a community in a new city doesn’t happen with a snap of a finger. The steps to forming quality connections can be tedious and a little awkward. It’s a little like going on many friend dates, and hope the conversation clicks. As a couple, it’s easy to get complacent since there is … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 5: Learning Vietnamese

Saigon Fruit Vendor and Tourists

After stumbling around on non-existent Vietnamese skills for the past month, we finally set up lessons with a private teacher to begin our Vietnamese-acquisition journey. I strongly believe the best way to integrate into a culture is to learn its language. Even understanding basic sentence construction helps one peek into a culture’s thought process. We have traveled the world without the ability to speak the local language, yet to live … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 4: Living Abroad in 2019

Living Abroad in Saigon

The first time I moved abroad was in 1998, from Taiwan to the United States. The Internet was slowly becoming mainstream, but the way to keep in touch with my family was still through faxes and occasional expensive international calls. In suburbia Saint Louis, my only source of Chinese entertainment was the books I had brought, a subscription to World Journal newspaper, and Sina.com, the only site back in the … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 3: Home Goods. Maison Marou. Women Meet Tech.

Place in Saigon

Hello New Home After over a year of suitcase living, we moved into an apartment that is all ours. For the first time in 13 months, I unpacked all of our suitcases and put them away. Among all of the benefits of nomad living, regaining an appreciation for a physical space that we can call home is on top of the list. We are only in this new apartment for … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 2: Roadside Barber. Chinatown. Eco-Market.

Thien Hau Temple Saigon Chinatown

The initial shock from the overwhelming traffic and noise in Saigon during week 1 has somewhat dissipated. There is now even a sense of calm energy when I watch a steady flow of traffic (preferably from a café window). While slowly settling into the city’s rhythm, we are still moving about town largely clueless. More than a few times, we have paid the “foreigners tax”. Can’t exactly complain, since we … Read more

Saigon Chronicle – Week 1: Traffic. Noise. Heat.

Saigon Traffic

After a year of globetrotting, we gathered our belongings, added a couple more bags, and headed for Saigon. By now, moving across the world has become rather habitual. My first big global move was from Taiwan to St. Louis at age 12. That was seriously major. Moving to Cameroon with the Peace Corps was a rather big deal as well, so was traversing the globe to Shanghai after grad school, … Read more