Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 2 in HCMC - Culture and Language Are Not Necessarily A Barrier

I think, I haven't mentioned the name of my internship program yet. So, before going further to the story of the second day, I want to tell a bit about my internship program. This internship program is called South East Asian Networking Initiative in Geo-information and Ocean Sciences (SEA I GO). Shortly, SEA I GO is the annual program (which was initiated from 2012 and held from 2013) held by Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Department, Institute of Technology Bandung, to support their students in improving their mobility and academic standards, and giving the exposure as the establishment of the links between academic and industrial spheres in ASEAN regional. Until this time, this program has already corresponded with some higher education institutions and industries. Higher education, such as Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), Universiti Teknologi MARA (Shah Alam, Malaysia), Ho Chi Minh University of Technology (HCMC, Vietnam), University of Technology Malaysia (Johor Bahru, Malaysia). While, industries already include Mercator (Bangkok), Portcoast (Vietnam), and Saigon Envigreen (Vietnam). Please kindly click on the link to know more about it --> SEA I GO.

Now, back to the story of the second-day experiences. The agenda for the day is "Attending Thesis Defense of Environmental Geology Engineering Students at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology". There were eight students that presented their final project or undergraduate thesis. Unfortunately, they presented it in Vietnamese which makes me, Gio, and Alex hard to understand their presentations. Luckily, there was a kind-hearted Huy, who translated the content of each presentation for us, so we could still catch up what's the topic about.

Our friend, Han, when presenting his final project about the identifying of coastline changing using satellite imagery and GIS
The presentation was divided into two sessions and in every session, there will be presentations followed by Q&A session for each student. At 11 a.m., we had time to take a break until 2 p.m. So, we're going to canteen to had a lunch with all of the thesis students, they are Han, Dung, Dat, and others (I'm sorry, I cannot remember all of their names). And finally, we found rice there! Han told us that actually, we can find rice easily in every restaurant and kiosk because Vietnamese eat rice as their lunch and dinner while noodle is for their breakfast. After full, we took a selfie at the university garden and had a short walk until went back to the 2nd session of thesis defense at 14 p.m.

Huy and Hoa when explaining us the content of the presentation (credit: Gio)
Let we take a selfie (credit: Gio)
After all of the students presented their thesis, the reviewer team from the lecturers deliberated the score then announce the result. Happily, all of the students passed it and graduated.

After the announcement. we're all going to a restaurant to have a dinner as a celebration. I was fascinated by the culture of the department that after thesis defense, they will always celebrate it, not only the students but together with the lecturers and the dean. The atmosphere was really warm and friendly. We had a dinner at Hoa Binh restaurant, around 500m from my hotel.

Having a celebration with the lecturer and dean
The custom in kind of the celebration here is drinking beer. Since I don't drink beer, I only ask for mineral water, haha. While, Alex and Gio drank for the first time. This is my first time surrounded by real drunk people, hoho. But, I didn't feel insecure at all since all of them really appreciate and tolerate me and I'm so touched when knowing that they specially requested for not serving any food which contains pork because I am prohibited to eat it. It means that even I am a minority, they still respect the diversities lie within us.

Mineral water is much healthier anyway, haha
See you in the next post!

Day 1 in HCMC - The Arrival and Culinary Day

We arrived in Tan Son Nhat International Airport, HCMC at 08.40 a.m. After immigration checked and brought back our luggage, we met Phùng Thanh Huy -- our new friend, a student of HCMC University of Technology -- and went to our hotel by taxi. That taxi we used was really expensive, we spend 400.000 VND (about 18 USD or 250.000 IDR) to get from airport to the hotel which is only about 7 km. I think we've been cheated by the taxi in that time, even Huy maybe can't haggle down the price anymore. So, tips for you who will go travel to HCMC, make sure the range of price from the first time before you use the taxi or you can use the applications, such as GrabTaxi, so you won't be cheated by the driver (But, I think GrabTaxi will be hard to use when you are at the airport (?)).

After checked in to the hotel, we went to the HCMC University of Technology and had a breakfast near the campus. We ate Phở Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) for the breakfast and the taste was really delectable. I think, the taste of the spices is almost the same with Indonesian cuisine. Based on my taste, the broth is composed of the spices such as cilantro, garlic, ginger, and onion. What makes it special is the noodles - you rarely find in Indonesia. The noodles are made of the rice, so it is called rice noodles. Phở Gà is served not only as chicken soup with noodles, it also is served with the chili, lime, herbs, and vegetables. The vegetables contain spring onion, bean sprout, basil, water spinach, and 'jantung pisang' or heart of banana or edible banana flower. The overall appearance of Phở Gà is quite similar to Mie Kocok (Mixed Noodles) from Indonesia, but of course with different ingredients and type of noodles. 

Four portions of Phở Gà

A serving of Phở Gà
The price of that serving of Phở Gà is cheap enough that is 28.000 VND. With that price, we'd all already full so we skip our lunch and took a rest until afternoon. After taking some rest, we went to the nearest supermarket and searched some food stalls that allow us to buy rice-only. You must be thinking, "What's on earth is buying rice-only?" Well, for some Indonesian, especially for the students who want to save their money, this is one of a common thing to do. I, Gio, and Alex were bringing side dishes from Indonesia to spare our money in buying food. LOL. However, it's quite difficult to communicate with the people there, they do not understand English well, even we finally decided to communicate by using the picture, haha. For example, when we're asking whether a food contains pork or not, we show the picture of a pig and cross the hands to indicate "no pork (?)". 

In short, in the evening, Huy and his friend, Hoa, treat us to enjoy some street foods, beverages exactly. We tried a kind of dessert, called Chè. It is a traditional Vietnamese beverage, made of blended mung beans and 'santan' or coconut milk which is separated into two layers. We have to stir it first, to enjoy the taste. The taste is sweet and dense. 

A glass of sweet Chè
Huy also ordered Rau Câu, a Vietnamese jelly cake which is made of agar and coconut milk. It is combined with coffee and ice which enrich the taste of this dessert.  

Rau Câu, Vietnamese jelly cake with coffee and ice
While enjoying the dessert, we learned some basic words in Vietnamese, such as how to say 'thank you', the greetings, what is 'rice' in Vietnamese, and 'pork' also so it makes us easier to buy food in Vietnam. Alex and Hoa had a serious yet interesting topic about the ethnic and urban planning of HCMC. 

In the middle of the conversation, Huy offered us with another beverage named Mủ Trôm. It is a Sterculia foetida processed beverage which is packed in a bottle and served as a cool drink.

Mủ Trôm
I thought, the taste of Mủ Trôm and Aloe Vera drink were very much alike. I heard that this drink is also nutritious and savory.

In the end of the night, we made a plan to visit some destination for the new year's holiday which can make us know more about the culture and history of Vietnam, especially we're really interested in the history of Vietnam War. Then, we went back to the hotel and took a rest. That's all about the first day in HCMC. Write to you later for the second day about attending thesis defenses of Environmental Geology Engineering Department at HCMC University of Technology.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

HCMC, First Adventure of A Lifetime

Long time no post. Now, I'm going back to write on this blog to share my story in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. This is my first time going overseas and I thought it would be a really nice if I could share it in my blog. By today, I've already spent two days in HCMC with my partner-in-crime, Giovanni; and my "skip"-yet-brilliant friend, Alexander. Our purpose of going to HCMC is actually to have an internship in one of the environmental company in Saigon and help our Professor's colleague in HCMC University of Technology, Dr.Bui. However, we will also have a field trip to Da Lat and use the free time in HCMC to explore the local treasures.

View of Mekong River from above (credit: Gio)
Me, Alex, and Gio when just arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport of HCMC (credit: Gio)
So, hope you'll enjoy my adventure story in this two weeks!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Please, Stop Make Others Waiting and Think You're More Important

Living in Indonesia, you will often experience this kind of situation, when people waiting for other people to begin the activities, even the arranged time has passed. For example, you arrange a meeting to be started at 10. While, at 10, people who had come not even a half of total people should have come, then they have to wait for the people-who-thinks-her/himself-the-most-important-person-to-be-waited to be able to begin the activities.

I really disappointed yesterday, my patience -- as a waiting person -- had reached its limit. The arrangement was set to be at 19.00. Hesitate, I asked one of the organizers that whether it'd be punctual at 19.00 or at 19.00 people were just 'going to go' to the place. He said at 19.00, people will have gathered and the activities might be started. I arrived at 18.45 and waited until 19.15 with some of the others -- whom I really appreciate due to their punctuality -- but the activities had still not started. It was not my first experience waiting for those people, it made me think, "Okay, this is not OK. I'm weary." Then, I went away to another arrangement I had with disappointment filled my heart. 

I have been trying to manage my time better by putting a big effort to be punctual in every activity I follow. I too have not always been perfect. Sometimes, when I have more than one same-prioritized-activities in consequence (even exactly same) time, I have to permit for the other(s) arrangement to come late. This always makes me feel bad not only for the people that (maybe) waiting for me but especially myself. 

Dear my friends, 
No, I'm not that busy kind of girl like you guys always think me is. I'm not that hurried kind of people like you guys always see me as. I'm just trying to appreciate your time as well mine. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"What's Your Name?" Rural Birth Registration Van

Me and my friends are joining Unicef Challenge and this is our project

The project is called “What’s Your Name?”. It is a project of sending vans to rural areas to provide easy access and an incentive for birth registration by directly approaching mothers and giving mini celebrations for the newborns and the new name on the block.

Our concern is how to connect with people that might as well be far from internet and awareness of the government’s need for child registration.

If you're excited to know more about the project and be kindly to help us to develop the idea, just click the link above and submit any comments to it.