Wanderlust Wendy

Saigon Chronicle

Life Lessons from One Year of Saigon Living

Saigon Living

In college, a four-month study abroad trip was life-changing. In my 30s, living in a new country for a year is a mere warm-up. Celebrating one year of living in Saigon has felt somewhat anticlimactic. In so many ways, I feel we’ve only just arrived in Vietnam. We seem to be barely dipping our toes into life in this chaotic city and have the faintest understanding of Vietnamese culture.  After … Read more

Saigon Visitor Guide: Restaurants, Cafés, and More

Ho Chi Minh City, more commonly referred to locally as Saigon, is a vibrant and energetic city. The rapid urban development leads to an ever-changing city, balancing between the new and old. My favorite thing to do in Saigon, as is in any city, is to wander aimlessly, looking into alleyways. Saigon has no shortage of hidden gems. I love discovering a charming café or sophisticated wine bar nestled within … Read more

Saigon in the Time of Corona

Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam

By now, you are probably so tired of reading about Covid-19, the novel coronavirus that has led to a global pandemic. I’m impressed if you even clicked on the link to get here. If you got here by accident, feel free to close the tab. My feelings won’t be hurt. Like most of the writing on this blog, this post is for my future self to remember this major point … Read more

Saigon Chronicle Month 5: Building a Community Abroad

Chocolate Cake, Community

Last month, before a trip back to Shanghai, I struggled to find my place in Saigon. Unlike previous moves abroad, the integration this time around feels slow. Partly, because I’ve adopted to living slower, but also I’m in a different stage of life – married and in my 30s. In month five, things seem to begin to click. Perhaps it’s due to a change of mindset post-Shanghai, but this city … Read more

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