Local cafe – it’s not so easy when you don’t speak Vietnamese
I went for a walk to explore my neighbourhood and discovered how difficult it is going to be to communicate here. The main street nearby is wide with the occasional trees and, noise and traffic aside, is relatively pleasant. I wandered down the street in the direction of my school and passed a few potential breakfast places with outdoor seating.
I went into one and they presented me with a menu. I knew enough to order a ca phe sua da but the menu had me stumped. No one spoke English … not even a little bit. Now as a sydneysider I’ve had my fair share of Pho back home but resisted the temptation to go the easy route and order what I knew and tried to order from what was on the menu. I took out my phone to try to translate a few things but all the accents on the Vietnamese letters had my phone stumped.
Eventually the sympathetic waiters, who must’ve thought I was a bit slow as I was making weird noises and sign language brought out a menu from next door that had some corresponding words in English next to Vietnamese dishes. From this I managed to puzzle out a Chinese noodle with beef dish. Delicious – spicy, brothy and all this while I watched the world of South Saigon go by – scooters with families, old ladies with conical hats, bleating trucks and buses with conductors hanging out the side. I think I’ll come again. Not sure how I’m gonna order next time though.