- Shampoo salons. You can find these all over the city. You can go there and have your hair washed. What’s funny is that there’s a bunch of girls, wearing the same outfit, usually short, tight and skimpy. Now I shouldn’t assume anything untoward is going on, but it’s hard not to think that.
- Restaurants. Toothpicks are available at all restaurants. I guess that’s a good thing for tight teeth from braces like mine. Vietnamese are also big on moist towel-ettes, but you have to pay for them if you use them (usually 1000 dong). Sometimes, you get a moist and cool facecloth instead.
- Laundry. Laundry here is charged by weight. We’ve paid between 7,000 to 15,000 dong per kilo. A good load of laundry probably weighs about 4-5 kg. This includes washing, drying and half-ass folding. Dry cleaning (which I think might just be regular washing and ironing) is 7000 dong per item. Which means our laundry bill doesn’t get close the 50 USD per month our landlady wanted to charge us, thank you very much!
- Recycling. I made a comment about there being no recycling. I rescind my comment. There is recycling; it’s just done after the fact by the garbage/recycling person, who sifts through the garbage. It’s an unfortunate job, but it is a paying one.
- Plastic containers and cardboards are separated for recycling.
- Energy efficiency. I don’t think energy efficiency is an environmental concern here like it is back home. However, there is a high degree of energy efficiency; I’m not sure if it’s by necessity or to keep costs low. All light bulbs are fluorescent light bulbs. Our toilet uses a very small amount of water. At home it’s about 13L for toilets built after 1985 and new ultra low models use 6L (Freshwater website).
Here, our toilet even gives the option of using 3L!
- Homeless people. I had not really thought about people on the streets being homeless. I think it’s not unusual for people to spend a whole day on the street: doing business, selling food, cigarettes or drinks. I just assumed they were relaxing, maybe taking a nap. It wasn’t until The Boyfriend pointed it out that I realized that these people actually live there. They set up their hammocks (if they’re lucky) and go to sleep. After inquiring with my teacher, I was told that a lot of rural people come here because money is easier to come by in the city, but they don’t have enough money for rent, let alone owning a house.
- Bed. Most mattresses here are on the hard side, which means I wake up every morning with a back ache and The Boyfriend’s back has never felt better. It was the opposite back home. Our landlady actually has a bed, but no mattress. She just sleeps on the hard wood of the bed. Yikes.
- Time Zone Difference. I’ve enjoyed waking up in the morning and finding out the Canadiens’ playoff game score. Especially when they’ve won. Go Habs go!