When you travel somewhere new for the first time you can always feel a little bit ‘lost’ as you don’t know where anything is; the gym, the supermarket, the money exchange etc.. Whilst it is quite easy to find most things using the power of Google and Google Maps, sometimes you may be looking for something quite specific or uncommon; like a printing shop or a church.
We hope our ‘Saved Places’ will make it much easier and quicker for you to settle in during your first week in Vietnam!THE ESSENTIALS
– Supermarkets – probably the first question we get asked is “Where is the closest supermarket to my accommodation”. Convenience stores are on every corner but to do I larger grocery shop you may need to head somewhere bigger with more choice. Click here to find a selection across the city.
– Gyms & Fitness Locations – the second question we usually get asked is “Where is the closest gym to my apartment or work”. Have no fear – we have saved a huge variety of work out places on this list for you discover and keep fit whilst you are away.
– Entertainment (Cinemas, Bowling etc.) – for a chilled out social occasion bowling alleys, cinemas, Go Karting, VR Arcade etc.
– Services – need to find a money exchange, printer, passport photo etc. this should help
– Places of Worship – if you are looking to continue religious practice in Vietnam
– Health & Beauty – Spas, nail parlours, hair salons etc.
– Non-chain Coffee Shops – the fun and unique quieter ones that are off the beaten track from the chain shops
– Rooftop Bars – A more expensive drink but with a view of the city above.
– Craft Beer – Saigon has a lot of options for locally brewed craft beer.
If you find something in Vietnam you think we’re missing on here – then let us know!
Are you getting everything ready for your Pagoda Projects programme and counting down the days until you jump on the plane? Are your friends and family asking you loads of questions about your upcoming experience and even you aren’t sure what to expect?
We hope that our watchlist will get you excited to explore the sights and sounds of what is going to be your new home for a months. Why not download a couple of our suggestions to pass the time on your flight out…
Netflix // IMDb
A 10-part documentary series chronicling the Vietnam war featuring the soldiers, protesters, politicians and families who lived it.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An in-depth documentary about on refugee family’s attempts to face its divided past and heal the motional wounds of the Vietnam War.IMDb
Separated at the end of the Vietnam war, an “Americanized” woman and her Vietnamese mother are reunited after 22 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony returns to one of his favourite places on Earth, journeying to the centre of the country, near the coast and to a city he has never been to, Hue.Netflix // IMDb
Snail and broken rice are staples of Ho Chi Minh City’s Outdoorsy street food culture which has been shaped by both history and family memory.YouTube // IMDb
Luke Nguyen, acclaimed owner and chef of the Sydney restaurant ‘The Red Lantern’, returns to the country of his heritage to take a culinary journey through the northern regions of Vietnam.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An old British reporter vies with a young U.S. doctor for the affections of a beautiful Vietnamese woman.IMDb
Two plain clothed U.S. military policemen on duty in war-time Saigon investigating serial killings when their job becomes even harder.Amazon Prime // IMDb
In the mid 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.BBC // IMDb
Sue Perkins embarks on a life-changing, 3,000-mile journey up the Mekong, South East Asia’s greatest river, exploring lives and landscapes on the point of dramatic change.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A vicarious thrill ride as Tony discovers Vietnam from the buzzing streets of Hanoi to the rural beauty of the Montagnards, and the mysterious Island of Mr. Sang. This episode shows exactly why Tony has been completely seduced by Vietnam and its people.
Amazon Prime // IMDb
An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.Netflix // IMDb
A boy and his mother move to California for a new job. He struggles to fit in, as a group of karate students starts to bully him for dating a rich girl from their clique. It’s up to the Japanese landlord, Miyagi, to teach him karate.Netflix // IMDb
Renowned warrior Yu Shu-Lien comes out of retirement to keep the legendary Green Destiny sword away from villainous warlord Hades DaiAmazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony travels to Shanghai. Forget all the antiquated views your might hold about a communist-run, creativity-devoid bunch of state-controlled androids. The modern China is a vibrant, dynamic monument to capitalism. And nowhere is that more glaringly obvious than in Shanghai, a city housing 116,000 billionaires and multimillionaires who modestly call themselves the ‘bao fa hu’ or ‘explosive rich’.Netflix // IMDb
Tofu pudding. Fish head soup. Goat stew. The family-owned street stalls of Chiayi are bastions of Taiwan’s culinary traditions.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Pull up a stool and get your chopsticks ready – A Bite of China is the quintessential TV series on all things Chinese cuisine – from its rich history to the rarest dishes and wildest ingredients. Shot in more than 60 locations and featuring top chefs of the culinary world – it will surprise even the most jaded foodies around.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Channel 4
With unique access to the Forbidden City, this documentary reveals the spectacular history of the world’s largest palace, and the secrets of its astonishing design.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.Amazon Prime // IMDb
The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
This Oscar-winning biopic traces the life of Pu Yi, the last of the great emperors of China, from his ascent to the throne at the age of three, in 1908, to the time he was imprisoned in the Forbidden City, witnessing decased of cultural and political upheaval.Amazon Prime // IMDb
True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.YouTube
Reggie discovers contemporary China, diving deep into four megacities in search of the new generations transforming their future.BBC // IMDb
A cookery show focusing on Chinese food, with demonstrations of how to make various Chinese dishes.Channel 4 // IMDb
Guy martin’s love of industry and endeavour leads him to china, where he reveals the unseen side of its innovation, technological development and gigantic manufacturing.Netflix // IMDb
In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
Netflix // IMDb
At the forefront of transforming Mexican cuisine, Enrique Olvera champions traditional ingredients under a haute perspective as he delves into the roots of Mexico to create award-winning dishes at his restaurant, Pujol.Netflix // IMDb
A look at the life of notorious drug kingpin, El Chapo, from his early days in the 1980s working for the Guadalajara Cartel, to his rise to power of during the ’90s and his ultimate downfall in 2016.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Bourdain travels to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Cuernavaca to commune with local residents who express their passion through food, art, and the struggle for an improved quality of life. Bourdain talks with journalist Anabel Hernández on the impact of the area’s drug trade-related violence and how it affects local quality of life.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A documentary on some of contemporary Mexico’s most iconic artists and performers.IMDb
A documentary feature about the life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tomas is too much for his lone mother so she sends him to live with his older brother Federico, aka Sombra, in Mexico City.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Netflix // IMDb
A journey through the colorful and varied world of Tacos.BBC // IMDb
In 1968 the young Rick travelled down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Mexican border and beyond. 50 years later he retraces his steps from San Francisco to Mexico enjoying unique dishes and meeting chefs. Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tony heads to Mexico with Carlos,who took over Tony’s old job.
Please refer back to this blog post for regular updates on the effect of Covid-19 on our partners and partcipants, and everything we are doing at Pagoda Projects to continue to bring you extraordinary and safe work experience.
If you’re a student signed up to one of our programmes or are thinking about enrolling and have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0161 818 8824 or send Ali an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, stay safe everyone!
PAGODA NEWS: COVID-19
Thursday 7th May
Vietnam is Back! Of course with cautious optimism, but over the last two weeks shops, restaurants, cafes and sports facilities are back open for business, with care taken to the numbers inside and the ability to safely distance. Schools are slowly going back and as Vietnam celebrated Reunification Day last week; 45 years after the end of the Vietnamese War, the country has supported each other and worked together to keep the virus at bay.
The picture is the view from famous Nguyen Hue towards the Saigon Opera house as people enjoy the cool city evenings. We haven’t been able to see this view for several years because of construction work to the Saigon metro, but this station is now finished!
Friday 24th April
A quick Vlog from our Vietnam Branch manager Vicki Offland today, chatting about the situation in Ho Chi Minh city at the moment regarding Corona Virus as successful government measures have helped keep the virus at bay which is leading to a phased relaxation of social distancing.
Vicki also reveals what Pagoda Projects has been doing to keep morale up 🙂
Tuesday 14th April
A couple of rays of good news from Taipei today!
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced today that there are no new cases of Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) to report for the first time in 36 days!
It appears the CECC’s efforts at quickly identifying, isolating, and tracing confirmed cases have held the virus at bay, for now…
Another trick up Taiwan’s sleeve is their new ‘Mask Vending Machine‘ which is being deployed across the city.
To help alleviate the queues at 7/11’s and pharmacies, the government have set up vending machines which can dispense up to 2000 masks per day! Costing only 45NTD for a pack of 3 ($1.5 / £1).
Thursday 2nd April
Our InternVietnam team are now working on developping our Remote Internship Programme for the University of Dundee from home! They are also planning for the arrival of our scheduled employability programmes in August/September 2020.
Vietnam has entered day two of a 15-day country wide voluntarily lock-down in order to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Many of the population were already maintaining good social distancing and following government health advice. All non essential business are closed except in cases of delivery which maintain as normal and is making less inconveniences for the population.
As of today 62 out of 222 cases recorded have recovered and many business and organisations are adapting to this new way of working online through online webinar and workshops.
Friday 27th March
We are EXTREMELY excited to announce the imminent launch of a remote internship programme for our partners at the University of Dundee! The University of Dundee programme will be taking place this summer in a slightly different format. Take a look below to find out more. We will be expanding our remote internship opportunities to our other valued partners in the near future. Watch this space for announcements!
Company? – click here to find out more
University? – click here to find out more
Tuesday 31st March
Well, we have entered the second week of lockdown in the UK and seemingly more uncertain times lay ahead. All of us at Pagoda Projects just wanted to share a quick message to all our participants, alumni, partners and everyone going through challenging times.
Look after yourselves, whether that’s with crazy new home workouts, becoming a jigsaw master or learning how to light a Zoom call like a Hollywood film set.
Friday 27th March
Although our InternMexico programmes for June & July 2020 have also sadly been postponed, our InternMexico Branch Manager James is busy planning the launch of our newest initiative from the comfort of his own home in Mexico City.
Friday 27th March
Our InternVietnam team waved goodbye to the final few participants on our Ho Chi Minh City programme this week. They are on their way home to the France, the UK and Germany, hopefully taking lots of fond memories of Vietnam with them.
All InternVietnam programmes for participants due to head out to Vietnam until July 2020 have been postponed but the InternVietnam team are still planning for some arrivals in August and September 2020!
Friday 27th March
Our Taipei team are hard at work and continuing to plan for participants wishing to embark on our Taipei programmes from September 2020 onwards.
Participants on place in Taipei are exercising caution and looking out for themselves. We are supporting these participants in their decision to either continue with their placements or to return home early, dependant on advice from official government channels such as FCO, DFAT, MFAT and GAC.
Our participant insurance policy will continue to cover those hard-working interns who are eager to stay under the current circumstances. However, we will be reassessing the safety of these participants daily in case of further developments and will remain in close contact with our insurance providers as things progress.
If you have any concerns regarding a participant currently on place in Taipei, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Daniel (in Taipei) or Clare (in the UK).
Thursday 26th March
Our InternChina teams are slowly emerging back into the world after a period in lock-down. Our Chengdu Branch Manager Liam is thrilled to be back working in the office again.
Programmes that were due to take place in Mainland China in April or May 2020 have sadly been postponed in light of current travel and visa restrictions.
All of our study tours along with Australian and New Zealand Government and University programmes have already been postponed. Some of the InternChina programmes that are due to take place in June, July and August 2020 on behalf of students studying in the UK may also be postponed. We will stay in close contact with the participants and ongoing applications hoping to take part on these programmes about any changes to over the coming weeks.
This includes those applicants hoping to take part on the GenerationUK Programme this year, your programme dates may be subject to change. Please keep your eyes on your inboxes for an update and thank you very much for your patience and understanding in the meantime.
Thursday 26th March
Just as our participants, alumni and faithful partner universities and companies across the world are striving to endure, adapt and thrive through the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pagoda Projects are doing the same!
From all of us at Pagoda Projects, our thoughts and best wishes are with medical workers and governments who are doing their best to heal and protect.
Get in touch:
Traveling the globe has always been my passion, I have discovered amazing and unique destinations and I would not change those experiences for anything in the world, but looking back at the past few years I realize that I know more places from other continents than from my own country. A few months back I decided to grab my backpack, a couple of friends and explore the land I grew up in, so I am going to show you my favourite 7 spots to backpack in Mexico.
7. Puerto Morelos
Located in between two of the most famous beaches in Mexico, Puerto Morelos has a unique feel that will not compare to Cancun or Playa del Carmen. If you are looking to relax at one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico with a smaller budget, and you want to experience real Mexican culture, then Puerto Morelos is the place for you. Just one hour away from this peaceful spot you can also find Tulum and Cobá, two of the most incredible tourist attractions of the whole country, full of history and amazing views. But be careful, you could end up falling completely in love with this place.
6. Zacatlán de las Manzanas
This “magic town” is located in Puebla. Just a three hour drive from Mexico city you can find the beautiful town of Zacatlan de las Manzanas, well known for having a distinct taste due to all the apples that grow there; making their apple pies, apple soda and apple liquor unique. Zacatlán is also known for being the home of watches and clocks in Mexico. There is a watch Museum, along with a clock sculpture in the main plaza. The colors, the food, the people and all the other attractions just outside this magical place will make you want to extend your visit at least a couple more days.
Located in Yucatan, Merida is an emerging city with just over 777,000 habitants, and a wide range of cultural heritage. Its peacefulness, food, architecture and weather will win your heart over and will make you want to stay forever. On top of that, to the East you will find Chichen Itza, to the north Progreso, to the west the beautiful beaches of Celestun, and to the south Uxmal. Merida was named the American Capital of Culture by Lonely Planet, and let me tell you that they were named it for a reason, definitely a place you don’t want to miss the next time you are in Mexico.
4. Grutas Tolantongo
A place I could never have imagined existing in Mexico. A canyon located in Hidalgo with over 500 meter-tall cliffs and a 15 meter wide valley, this place is paradise. The best part is that it only costs $120 pesos for the whole day. Tolantongo Caves has more than 30 warm mineral pools next to a paradise resort owned by over 112 families that want to preserve these amazing natural resources. It is certainly not something you see everyday.
3. La Huasteca Potosina
La huasteca Potosina, located in San Luis Potosí, has been on my list since I was little, it has always amazed me in pictures and my dream was to visit this place. Fortunately a couple months ago I was finally able to and it did not disappoint me at all. This place will transport you to another planet and help you reconnect with nature.
Just under 5 hours drive from Mexico City, you will find this amazing, unique place that will take your breath away. Make sure you bring your bathing suit, a friend and a new memory card for your camera because you will want to capture every moment.
Tequila, Jalisco will put in practice your drinking and cultural skills and make sure you have a great time with friends and meeting new people. Many tequila companies have tequila tours that you can take, that provide unlimited tequila and food to make sure you live a fun-filled experience. A great way to discover our culture, as well as to learn how tequila has been made over generations and has become a big part of our heritage and tradition.
Located close to Nayarit, Marietas Island are two empty islands own by the government to protect its natural resources. In the past few years the government has implemented a campaign to prevent the ecosystem in this islands from dying so now only a limited amount of tourist can go into the islands per day. If you are lucky enough or plan you trip in advance you will be able to visit this incredible and unique place. In my experiences this has been the most amazing and relaxing place I have every been, placing Marietas Islands as my number 1 destination in Mexico.
Grab your back pack and let’s go.
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As a Mexican that has experienced culture and life in China, it was really hard to come back to my own country and forget about life over there, and their amazing food, culture, traditions and people. When I came back to Mexico City, the first thing on my list was to find the best Chinese food in town. Due to business, cultural interest and technology, Mexico City has become a multicultural city in the past few years, and luckily it has a few good options!
This city is known for its diverse choices in food, traditions, people and places and in the last few years Chinese culture has become one of many new cultures in Mexico. With nearly 25 million people living in Mexico City we can find something for everyone, so I am going to show you the top 6 most delicious Chinese restaurants in this enormous and fascinating city.
6. Restaurant Tong Fung.
Located in ChinaTown, Mexico City, this place has a unique vibe that will transport you back to a local restaurant in China during Chinese New Year. Full of decor and Chinese flavor we mark Tong Fung as our option number 6.
5. Oriental Bar Restaurant
If you ever want to experience Chinese food the way Mexicans do, then this is the place for you. Oriental Bar bring out the best of the Chinese cuisines and adds some Mexican flavour to it. Definitely a place you want to try if you stay in Mexico City long enough.
4. Hong King
Just a few blocks away from the Pagoda Projects Mexico offices we find Hong King. If you want to experience a more cantonese flavour from Hong Kong, don’t hesitate to try out Hong King. Served in a traditional Chinese way, with the best flavors of canton, we rank Hong King as our number 4 favorite place.
3. Ka Won Seng
If you want tradicional, accessible and delicious Chinese food, then Ka Won Seng is the place for you. With accessible prices and delicious food, Ka Wong Seng will give you a full experience of what is like to eat in a local restaurant in China.
2. Asian Bay
If you want to experience a glamorous evening, then Asian Bay is the place for you. You will experience the true flavors of Asia, focusing on Chinese cuisine most of all. During the day you can have a relaxing and delicious meal, and during the night this place will transport you back to China, with spectacular shows that will blow your mind. This is a perfect place to have a fun evening.
1. YI Ping You
We have been talking mostly about traditional Chinese food, but there is nothing like a good touch of spicy Sichuan flavor in your food. This place is known for being traditional and authentic, and some even say it is the best place for Sichuan food in all of Mexico. Yi Ping You places as our favorite and number 1 Chinese restaurant in Mexico City.
Enjoy your Meal!
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Surrounded by Masks: An update of what it feels like to live in Vietnam during the Corona Virus
The beginning of the new decade 2020 is off to a bumpy start, Australia is on fire, NBA legends have passed, the USA is in progress of a re-election, Hong Kong is demonstrating and the outbreak of a new deadly virus has taken over the media worldwide.
The Corona Virus (COVID-19) which originated in the city Wuhan, China is causing panic amongst nations around the world. The WHO expressed their concerns and advised people to take precautious measures like avoiding big gatherings, washing your hands and wearing a mask.
The virus has spread to most countries in the world by now and led to a movie-like display of people covering their faces, racist backlashes and an exaggeration my media outlets. In Vietnam 16 cases were reported of which zero have died and 100% have been cured successfully and released from quarantine. Nevertheless, schools have remained closed weeks after their official TED holiday during Chinese New Years. Even though it is a weird feeling to see so many people wearing masks around you the atmosphere in Saigon appears rather unaffected by the outbreak.
Many people have expressed their concerns in regards to travel to Vietnam as it is a labouring country to China but the world health organization has praised Vietnam for their successful measures and dealing with the situation. Officially there is no travel ban towards Vietnam and considering my experience on place that is justified. As of now, Vietnam has fewer cases than, Italy, Germany, Australia, Austria, Canada and most other affected countries. Although the virus is not to be taken too lightly it most likely won’t be affecting your travels in this wonderful country with all the beauty it has to offer.
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Reverse Culture Shock
As my first group of interns prepare to return back to the UK, one topic of conversation that has been heavily discussed is reverse culture shock. As someone who has travelled a fair amount, I am well acquainted with this confusing feeling. However, compared to regular culture shock, the reverse feeling felt upon return to one’s home is rarely discussed. This blog will explain the sensation and hopefully give you some tips on how to prepare and combat reverse culture shock.
So, what is reverse culture shock?
Reverse culture shock is pretty much exactly what it states on the tin; it’s a feeling of shock, isolation, or unfamiliarity when you return home after living abroad for a considerable period of time. It can even sometimes be worse than culture shock felt when first experiencing life in a new place, because you assume that since you are returning somewhere full of family and friends the change will be easier to deal with. However, a lot of people often explain this transition to be more difficult as they are returning to the same place, but not returning as the same person. No one at home completely understands the journey you have been on, and you miss the people you shared that journey with. People at home will often be interested in hearing tales from your time abroad right after your return, but they might become disinterested after a few days or weeks, and this can lead to feelings of frustration and isolation as no one understands the life you lived abroad.
Accept your feelings
Although you may feel down or upset for a period of time after your return, the most important thing is to understand why you are feeling that way. Hopefully this blog will help you to understand this feeling and be aware of reverse culture shock, so if you do experience it you at least know what is happening. There’s always so much focus on preparing to travel somewhere, but hardly ever preparation for returning home. It always feels rushed and last minute as you try and pack in as much fun as possible in the last few days in your temporary home. So, it’s easy to forget to remind yourself that you may find moving home more difficult than moving away. But accept whatever feelings come, and don’t feel bad about feeling bad! It’s totally normal and little can be done to prevent missing your time abroad, because let’s be honest, living everyday as an adventure is of course going to be more fun that the daily life you’re used to back home. But you will slowly adjust back to life at home, and everyday will get easier, just don’t be surprised if sometimes you feel sad or lonely for a day or two.
A major factor which plays into reverse culture shock is often the fact that relatives and friends may not be as interested in hearing about your time abroad as you had hoped. After a few days, they may grow tired of hearing you talk about your time away but try not to be frustrated or offended. Try your best to put yourself in their position. While you have been away discovering new food and making new friends, most people at home have been living their same daily lives and may not want to hear how good a time you have had compared to them. In addition, it’s important to remember that the world at home did not stand still when you were away. People change, situations change, and the place you return to may not feel exactly as it did when you initially left. Be patient, and things will begin to feel normal again.
Thankfully today it is possible to stay in touch with people you met on your travels through the magic of social media. Ease of communication is one pro of the ever-evolving social media used constantly in today’s world. If you ever feel down or alone, give your friends from your internship or your travels a message on Facebook (or WeChat!) and see if they’re feeling the same way. It’s important to recognise that these feelings are totally normal, and most people will be going through the same confusing emotions, so talk about them, or just have a catch up and see how everyone is adapting to life back at home!
Similar to regular culture shock, one of the best ways to overcome reverse culture shock is keeping busy. Don’t let yourself spend days on end sitting in your room reminiscing about your time abroad, this will probably only make adjusting to life back at home even harder. Make plans with friends, cook dinner for your family, go for a run, start to learn a new language, basically anything that keeps your mind occupied and helps you keep developing! When you were abroad, you probably did your best to use your time wisely and fit as many activities in as possible. Take this mentality back home and live each day to it’s fullest. Is there somewhere nearby your hometown where you’ve never explored? Is there a museum exhibit on display nearby? Is there a coffee shop with great cake that you’ve not eaten in a while? Even though it may not be as exciting as living abroad in a brand-new environment, you can still find hidden gems in your own back garden, so go out and explore!
Plan the future!
From my personal experience, the best way to combat reverse culture shock is to plan something exciting in the near future. For me, this is usually a short trip away from home. I’m lucky to live in Europe where travel prices are relatively low, especially in winter, so planning spontaneous trips doesn’t need to break the bank. However, if travel prices are too high, plan a day trip instead! Or a party, a picnic, a sports game, a bike ride… anything that you can look forward to and focus energy on planning, so you can look forward to new adventures rather than becoming sad reminiscing over memories of the past.
Hopefully this blog has helped you to learn about the reality of reverse culture shock and will help you to prepare for your return back home.
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Every year we host a large number of interns on our InternVietnam programme in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – all of whom are keen to find their way around as quickly as possible.
We have come up with a handy FAQ list to let you know what’s what and save you from the perils of a forgotten phone charger or lipstick, some advice on navigating public transport, and an inside scoop on where to get a cracking coffee fix!
If you have any to add to the list just let us know. Comment, Tweet us, chat to us on Facebook or yell at us in the street.
Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Kitsh, The House of Saigon etcTry to negotiate if you think you can and it depends on how much you think the product is worth, if it’s too pricey walk away. We always recommend starting at 50% of the original price.Depends on some places (like hotels) but we mainly use VND here. You shouldn’t really be paying in USD.Starts from 6pm till late.Vung Tau beach is 2 hours away by bus, Mui Ne beach is 5-6 hours by bus, Dalat is 8-9 hours bus. There are also lots of places you can reach by short domestic flights.Try Futa Bus Line or Ve Xe Re.Yes, it’s compulsory. You will need to have your passport to check in to your hotel even if you travel by bus and not by plane.It will take around 45 mins – 1 hour depending on the traffic. If it is rush hour on a weekday always give yourself extra time to book a Grab and get there.There are drivers working overnight. It can sometimes take a little longer to confirm yourself a booking, so allow yourself 5-10 minutes extra just in case.- Domestic flight: 2 hours
– International flight: 3 hoursThere are 4, Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, Vietjet Air (cheapest), Bamboo Airway (new)- Vietnam Airlines: the most expensive one, normally on time and the best service
– Jetstar: budget airline, cheaper than Vietnam Airlines, sometimes delayed
– Vietjet: budget airline, frequent delays for flights, usually on time for international flights
– Bamboo Airways: newest and similar price to Vietjet. Sometimes there are delays an limited availability in cities in Vietnam and overseas.Nha Trang, Dalat, Danang etcVietnam RailwayAny convenience store: Family Mart, Circle K, 7 Eleven etc.Depending on your data package, about 100,000 VND should be enough.Central Post Office– Monday – Friday: 7:00 – 19:00
– Saturday – Sunday: 8:00 – 18:00Musulman Mosque, Al Rahim Mosque, Jamiul Islamiyah Mosque etcCoconut coffee at Cong Café (chains), egg coffee at Little Hanoi Egg Coffee, Highland Coffee (chains)Guardian which is a chain storeSupermarkets, Dien May Xanh (chain store), The Gioi Di Dong (chain store), MinisoBen Thanh Market, Vincom B Center etcAny supermarket (Big C, Coop Mart, Vinmart), Trung Nguyen Coffee etc
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China is one of the biggest countries in the world, with the highest population in the world. For this reason, it is not surprising that many accents, dialects, and languages exist within this area of the world. When people think of China, they often relate it to Mandarin, the official language of the country. What many people do not realise is that China actually contains several hundred languages and dialects. This is a brief introduction to some of the dialects and languages you may hear around our internship locations!
This small city is found in the very south of Guangdong province. Cantonese is widely spoken in this province, as well as in neighbouring Macau and Hong Kong. Almost everyone you meet in Zhuhai will be able to speak Mandarin, however, it’s not uncommon to hear local people converse in Cantonese (Guangdong hua, in Mandarin), especially if you venture out to more rural areas. Cantonese has nine tones, compared to Mandarin’s four, so it often sounds more fast flowing and expressive. Some useful phrases to note may be:
Hello: nei5 hou2
Good morning: zou2 san4
Sorry: deoi3 m4 zyu6
Thank you: m4 goi1
You’re welcome: m4 sai2 haak3 hei3
My previous blog outlined some of the environmental challenges that China faces, the aspects in which it is becoming more sustainable and what you can do during your internship to make a difference. In this blog, I am turning to the companies that InternChina work with and what they are doing to help the environment and community in and around Chengdu. I spoke to three companies that offer internships with InternChina in Chengdu: Chengdu Urban Rivers Association, Swild and Dragon Yunhe. They outlined their aims, how environmental protection has improved in China in recent years, challenges to their work and what the future holds for them.
Chengdu Urban Rivers Association (CURA) 成都城市河流研究会
CURA is an NGO focussed on river conservation and sustainable development, specifically tackling the problem of water pollution in and around Chengdu. Since their establishment in 2003, their main focus has been on long-term projects in two villages, Anlong Village in Pidu District and Lingshi Village in Tangyuan Town which are located near streams and rivers that are the main source of drinking water for Chengdu.
CURA aims to build safe areas near rivers to reduce water pollution and develop facilities to help villagers reduce pollution in their daily life, including building toilets and pipes which separate waste. They organise workshops and training for villagers about eco-agriculture and the harms of using pesticides and chemical fertilisers, as well as garbage classification and how to discard of toxic waste. They also hold activities in urban areas to highlight the problems of water pollution, the importance of eco-products and living in a sustainable way.
An education session hosted by CURA with the local community (credit: CURA)
Both the villages that CURA work with have developed a better understanding of eco-agriculture and one villager who adopted eco-agricultural methods now has over 85 customers that he delivers to twice a week. Villagers have also started to organise activities to clean garbage from nearby rivers and streams. CURA’s work has had knock-on effects: people from Yongan Village have seen the work of the neighbouring Lingshi Village and have set up a team of 30 people to help clean their local stream. Furthermore, after learning from CURA about a government policy which exchanges the deposit of toxic waste for a small financial return, villagers have started to collect and separate toxic waste from other rubbish. This has benefitted local wildlife, soil quality and water sources, as well as resulting in a more beautiful natural environment due to the reduction of visible garbage.
One of the main challenges for CURA is sourcing funding. As CURA is a NGO, it is unable to raise money itself and, therefore, has to rely on donations and partnerships with organisations. Foundations are the main source of funding for many NGOs but CURA has found that it is often difficult to align the goals of CURA with foundations’ own missions. While some foundations are keen to focus on cleaning urban rivers, there are fewer who are willing to concentrate on the sources of drinking water. Due to CURA’s nature as a small organisation, it lacks a strong mandate to force action on a wider scale and struggles to get its agenda adopted by larger organisations and the government.
A litter-picking activity with a school (credit: CURA)Future
CURA want to use the knowledge gained from their experience in Anlong and Lingshi villages to make proposals more quickly for other villages in the future. They aim to develop a model which can be extended throughout Sichuan and sell it to organisations to implement. The revenue will be used to fund further research and investment into the problem of water pollution and solutions, and improve their marketing strategy.
Mingming is hopeful about progress in terms of the environment in China as more NGOs and individuals are trying to push environmental laws and changes.
Swild uses photographs, videos, articles and documentaries as a means to educate about biodiversity within southwest China which they promote through their wide social media following on both Western and Chinese channels. Their aim is to show people the beauty of nature and by doing so encourage people to conserve and protect the environment. Their photography and documentaries show footage of a vast variety of animals, birds, plants and land types, as well as rare wild species and protected areas within Southwest China. They also cooperate with other conservation organisations within China to promote sustainability.
A leopard in the wild captured by a Swild photographer (credit: Swild)
Since Swild registered as a company in 2015, they have noticed more and more people paying attention to environmental issues within China, including those with no previous interest in, or knowledge of, the environment attending their events. There have been more events held in Chengdu to raise awareness about environmental conservation and protection, such as a recent talk from primatologist Dr Jane Goodall and a ‘zero-waste’ event organised by Roots and Shoots which included a clothes swap, documentary screening and information about reducing individual’s ecological footprint.
Shuting and Yu Dengli think that the most effective recent change in China has been the introduction of recycling classifications which was piloted in Shanghai and has spread across China, including to Chengdu. They believe that the use of government sanctions can make environmental protection more effective; this is gradually being rolled out for those who don’t recycle or recycle incorrectly.
Swild noted three main challenges to the environment that they experience while documenting wildlife: pollution, waste and a loss of natural habitats due to population and urban expansion. Shuting and Yu Dengli think that to make environmental conservation more effective in China, further education is needed in all sectors of society.
Swild are continuing to expand their resources that document the natural environments and wildlife in southwest China, including into more remote areas. At the beginning of 2020, they are launching two new documentaries, Kula Riwo Life and The Secret World of Wanglang.
Some of the resources Swild produces
Dragon Yunhe 登龍雲和
Dragon Yunhe is a social enterprise that promotes community and environmental sustainability through a business model approach. It focuses on the environment in remote areas, especially in conservation areas where ecosystems are fragile.
Their initial project in 2015 was establishing the Yunhe Centre located in Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Region. Since then, Dragon Yunhe has adopted a multifaceted approach to building an eco-tourist model in the village which involves: developing local industry; community training about eco-agricultural skills and techniques, food safety and local crafts; and establishing education programs about local culture, traditions and nature. It also runs community projects and outdoor expeditions for domestic and international partners, especially schools and universities.
The Yunhe Centre has provided a livelihood for many people who live nearby and has given the local community the resources to find a solution to the problems that rural areas face and to manage natural resources themselves. In addition, Dragon Yunhe has collaborated with specialists to develop cultural and environmental education programs which over 500 participants have taken part in.
Within China more generally, Xiaomei has seen improvements in the conservation of national parks as authorities are acknowledging and taking the responsibility to improve environmental protection within these areas.
Xiaomei believes that the current understanding of eco-tourism within China is one of the biggest challenges to increasing the scale of eco-tourism nationally. In China, eco-tourism is often understood as under-developed areas which lack services and so Dragon Yunhe is promoted in China as an educational tourism or responsible tourism company. She believes that, for the eco-tourism industry to develop, people need to understand the core principles behind eco-tourism. The difficulty of gaining sufficient funds for rural communities also inhibits the development of this type of project on a wider scale.
The Yunhe centre has been rented for 30 years with the hope that within this timeframe the centre will be 100% self-financed and self-run by local people. Many rural areas face, or will soon face, a situation where there is nobody to look after natural resources because of depopulation due to urban migration and overdevelopment. Dragon Yunhe believe that working with the local community to find a sustainable livelihood for them is the key to the protection of these rural environments.
Dragon Yunhe plan to develop a model for eco-tourism based on their experience at the Yunhe Centre. Their aim is to gather more resources so that they can link different stakeholders including the private sector and decision-makers and encourage this model to be implemented by investors and the government on a larger-scale. They also plan to continue to educate about the importance of responsible tourism.
An intern at the Yunhe Centre (credit: Dragon Yunhe)
CURA, Swild and Dragon Yunhe are three of the many organisations in Chengdu taking positive steps to tackle environmental problems and support local communities. For many environmental organisations, continuing and expanding their work in the future relies on the availability of funding which is restricted by China’s NGO laws.
A huge thank you to Mingming from CURA, Shuting and Yu Dengli from Swild and Xiaomei from Dragon Yunhe for taking the time to talk to me and sharing their experiences.