Publisert av: ingridmogstad | 5. mars 2011

Rumdoul and Vietnam for the win

I am now taking the step to change my blog-language from Norwegian to English. The reason I started out in Norwegian was because my post-work is supposed to be in Norway, directed towards Norwegians. I feel more comfortable writing in my native language, but after having been here for a while I realize that I want to reach English-speakers as well, and also my friends that does not speak Norwegian.  My decision was final when I realized that there’s probably no-one in my target group that doesn’t know English well enough to read this anyway. The quality of my blog-posts will be poorer than if I had written them in Norwegian, but hopefully they’ll improve a bit after a while. Cases of so called «ola-engelsk»(Norwegian-English) will occur. Ok, enough with the excuses and back to my somewhat impulsive trip to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) this week.

I was sent by the NGO I just started working for called Mekong Quilts. They sell quilts, pillows, rug rags and other products handmade by women living in the provinces of Vietnam and Cambodia. The organization started in Vietnam ten years ago and expanded to Cambodia in 2008.

Rumdoul

First we went to a province in Cambodia called Rumdoul where some of the quilters live and work. Here I stayed one night, and so did the Siem Reap-girls Somonea and Thini. Here we met some of the women making papé maché, rug rags and pillows. Mekong Quilts has a parent organization called Mekong Plus. Mekong Plus takes the profit from Mekong quilts and our sister-shops Mekong Creations, Vietnam Quilts and Vietnam Creations and provides different programs in the Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside. There are a wide range of programs right now, most of them focusing on increasing the farmers profit by educating them or getting them started up with chicken-farming or pigs.  Another program is providing lavatories to poor families to better the hygiene standards.

Rumdoul is what you would call countryside with a capital C. Rice paddies as far you can see and red, dusty roads (my white top changed colour as the day passed) where there mainly passes «motobikes» and bicycles. Travelling with locals is a bit different then travelling with western friends. For breakfast one morning I got to choose between soup and fried rice at a local place. «Soup» was my reply, and I got, exactly, soup. After having eaten what I thought was noodles and some unidentifiable stuff, I was stupid enough to ask what exactly my soup contained. «Pork blood and insides» was the answer. I will add to the story that this was earlier eight in the morning. It tasted alright though; it was the pork blood couldn’t stand.

Very nice people. His wife wished me a long life and I complimented her traditional costume.

My colleagues and I standing in a lush cucumber field in the middle of dry season in Cambodia. They do it in Vietnam, it is possible here too!

«Safety first» is not a widely known term in Cambodia. But we did wear helmets.

Apart from the PBAI-incident (Pork Blood and Insides), Rumdoul was amazing. Beautiful landscapes and (as always in Cambodia) wonderfully friendly people. Hopefully I will have the chance to go there again during my internship.

Ho Chi Minh – City

From Rumdoul the trip went on to Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh-City. It is a bit embarrassing to think about now, but I was actually not 100% sure where Ho Chi Minh-City was on my way there. I was actually not 100% sure whether I was going to Thailand or Vietnam. The only thing I was 100% sure of was that I was not going to ask. (I’m sure I’m not the only one making this mistake, just like mixing up Cambodia and Bangladesh on my interview with Aiesec this winter). Geography can be tricky.

Ho Chi Minh-City is a big city. Eight times the size of Phnom Penh, someone said. A wonderfully,  messy combination of the west and the east. The most exotic thing I saw by far was the communist propaganda – right next to commercials for Hyundai and Toyota! Funny city and funny ideology. Facebook was closed (like in china) but a new Vietnamese friend of mine lent me her computer to get in (can’t go a whole week without Facebook! I’d feel like an island). Later I tried to find out how to do it myself, and found nine simple steps to access Facebook in Vietnam on eHow. «Simple» for IT-people means two hours of work and frustration for me, so I let it be.

The first two days we had a seminar in sales and how to treat costumers (note western costumers) and colours and colour combinations that (westerner’s think) are beautiful. I already had a similar seminar with my previous working place Lucky Duck (no, not a strip club, they sell soap) but it was ok to hear it again. The stuff about colours was new and quite fun.

Me and my colleagues from Vietnam, Siem Riep (in Cambodia) and Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh

I’m now home from my trip. Funny to call Phnom Penh «home», but now it is. I’m starting to feel at home in Cambodia! That didn’t take long. Now I have started my job and I’m starting to get to know my colleagues and my boss a bit. I have been working in the shop the whole week to get to know the products, and next week I will start doing what I was hired to do; marketing. I have no marketing experience what so ever, but it seems like being a westerner is the key. I speak English well, I can easily communicate with costumers and its sure easier for me to reach western scenes than it is for my lovely Cambodian colleague Sinat. Cambodia is not an ethnicity-neutral country, which is (sadly) how it is for now.

The last picture I’m posting is of  a statue of «The great uncle» Ho Chi Minh. Yes – you got it right, it is him Ho Chi Minh-City is named after. He is also pictured on all the paper money in Vietnam(called Dong) which makes them totally impossible for an already currency-confused Norwegian to tell apart:

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Responses

  1. I am SO happy for you! Although I won’t deny feeling a little jealous of how your productive your days have passed, I think Mekong Quilts sounds like a wonderful NGO! Rather, is it a social enterprise?

    I have never been to Rumdoul. The last time I was on a motorbike driving along the dikes of rice paddies mustn’t have happened later than my 10th birthday. So it must have been quite an adventure! Maybe we can do it together once I get back!

    How is the sun treating ya? You are moving into the most scorching months of the year, ya know? April and May. Take care and keep up the blogs!

    Love,
    Kimsor

  2. Your english ain’t that bad;) when did you leave for Vietnam?:)

  3. Jeg la ikke merke til ola-engelsk her! Men jeg gleder meg til å høre om dette «live» over skype.

  4. Wow! Og du opplever alt dette uten meg??
    Virker super kult Ingrid! Bra du oppdaterer så ofte som du gjør, for er veldig spennende å lese selv om jeg merker jeg prater lite engelsk for tiden:P

    Gleder meg til å lese mer! savner deg jo litt skjønner du;)

  5. I love riding motorbikes here in Cambodia, all though I don’t dare to try the trafikk with myself behind the wheel. Looking very much foreward to see tou in a couple of months! MQ is definetely a social enterprice, non profit and so on (at least according to the wikipedia definition:P)

    I left for Vietnam about two weeks ago, came home last week-end:) It just took me some time to blog about it..

    Takker åse, og ikke minst takk for en koselig skype-samtale! Selv om lyden var en utfordring:P

    Og takk Livus, savner deg litt også! Regner med at du opplever en del ganske kule ting sjæl;)

  6. Som en av dine tidligere engelsklærere føler jeg meg litt ansvarlig for engelsken din, og her kan jeg bare slå fast: This is splendid, and no Ola-English spotted 🙂

    Så spennende å lese om det du opplever, og veldig morsomt å se bilder av deg!

  7. Jippi, så fint å høre fra en X-engelsklærer! Så hyggelig at du leser Ingunn, håper alt går fint med deg på Sandvika og med andre prosjekter du måtte ha:)


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