Day 21: Cafe Hopping in HCMC

We had a great experience in the morning by heading to our local park to try the national sport of đá cầu. Basically, we played “keep ups” with a feathered birdie, trying to juggle it in the air with our feet.

The fascinating thing about a public park at 7am is that here, in HCMC, it’s FULL of middle aged and elderly people working out. They’re all stretching, using public workout machines, or playing đá cầu with jaw-dropping skill. We started to get the hang of keeping the birdie in the air when a few locals joined us to encourage us.

After breakfast, the power went out in our district. That’s just part of life in an emerging economy. We stuck to our plan to have a cafe day. Coffee culture in Vietnam is a huge industry. The city is covered in cafes large and small. The people are proud of their rising coffee exports. So, in the morning, students visited a cafe and, in the afternoon, they walked to another.

The teachers caught up with each group for our small group discussions about the novel The Sorrow of War. We’ve really hit our stride when talking about literature. The class understands the expectations and has a great familiarity and friendliness with their peers. The discussions are surpassing University-level tutorials. They are lively, interesting, and extremely detailed with each student referring multiple times to read excerpts from the novel to support each other’s observations.

When they weren’t discussing literature they were getting direct, one-on-one feedback from their teachers about their first essay assignment. Working in cafes allowed us to avoid the heat, humidity, and the heavy afternoon rain and it let us work in even smaller class sizes.

In the end, we met back in our neighbourhood for dinner. It’s wild to think our time here is done! Naturally, in the park we were swarmed by more young Vietnamese University students looking to practice English. After dinner, we took a special trip to the wealthy district and visited a modern mall where we played at an arcade. Bumper cars were quite popular, there was a mini-basketball showdown, Mack and Iain almost defeated the Kraken, and a whole crew of our students got addicted to the dance game, taking over with high scores for their choreography.

We made it home for an earlier night. Tomorrow, we have a 5am bus to the airport. So long, Vietnam. We’re on to our third country: Cambodia.


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