Sunday, October 18, 2015

apartment hunting

So the other day whilst milling around the busy streets of Saigon, I walked past a seafood restaurant that had these critters swimming around in large aquarium cases.  I put an APB out on Facebook and Instagram, asking if anyone knew what they were - as far as I knew, they were a hybrid shrimp-lobster-preying mantis maybe? and Toby from Plate Fodder said they were in fact called Mantis Shrimp.

you will be assimilated




If you're not familiar with mantis shrimp (and I wasn't), I advise you to check this link out.. and it's FRIGHTENING.  Why the Mantis Shrimp is my New Favorite Animal.

As I was doing a round of show-and-tell the other day at Pasteur Street Brewing Company, my friend Oanh (who works there) peered over my shoulder and exclaimed, "Oh, tôm tít!". She says her family steams them and serves them au naturel with dishes of salt and pepper to dip them into.

We have to be out of this apartment by I think the 27th, so we're actively looking for a new place.  As previously stated, I will probably miss the view at this Airbnb. But I will not miss the massive dusty fake orchid arrangements that are supposed to liven up the living area, since the landlord can't seem to keep anything alive in the eight large planter boxes of dead stubs out on the balcony.



I always thought that when I finally move into a more permanent place here in Saigon that i'd get an orchid or two - the florist here sell them like crazy.  But I think i'm over that, and now I just want a bunch of potted cacti.

Apartment hunting can be an adventure. We found a broker on the internet, who met us in front of one available apartment, then took us around to see others. The first one we saw was fine, just a bit small... then it went downhill from there. The last place he showed us, after we'd been following his motorbike in a taxi all afternoon, looked like a dorm room complete with dorm-sized fridge and a small electric hotplate. So when a new buddy of mine I met on the twitterverse (hi Michael!) reached out and suggested I use one of his real estate people, I jumped on it.

Dan is Vietnamese but speaks English really, really well (in fact, he was featured on a 2012 episode of House Hunters International - a show that for some inexplicable reason was always playing on the waiting room TV every time I went in for a doctor's appointment back in the States).  Dan took us around to visit a few places that expats generally like - nice places, high rise buildings, nice views, usually a lot of Western-type shopping in the building itself or nearby. I finally realized I had to be frank and tell him I wanted a decently sized "Western-style" kitchen. A lot of these high rises have small kitchens, most without an oven - in fact, all of the traditional Vietnamese apartments i've been in don't have an oven at all, maybe a small toaster oven. I'm not planning on cooking massive roasts (or maybe... I am?) but I wouldn't mind something a bit more substantial than a toaster oven. Or I can just go buy one myself if the apartment has enough counter space for it.  The last place Dan showed us was ideal. I don't want to talk too much about it should the deal fall through and the landlord decides not to let us have it; but I really want this apartment and I feel as though I could be happy there, pottering about in the kitchen.

And even if i don't feel like cooking much - which will probably be the first few days since pots and pans need to be purchased - the surrounding neighborhood is littered with cafés, beer gardens, restaurants, street vendors with tiny tables and chairs to perch yourself on, so I won't go hungry. And the best part? the closest restaurant to the apartment is a seafood place, complete with aquariums lining the walls... lobster, fish of all kinds, and my old friend, the mantis shrimp.  Now to get some salt and pepper.

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