Saturday, February 14, 2009

Putting things into perspective

So I had lunch together with my colleagues today in a very fancy, beautiful restaurant in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  The food was really great, and I was nervous by the time the bill came.  I had been warned that food bills could add up pretty quickly, so I was prepared for the worst.  I'm also not very good at the exchange yet.  So the bill came, and it was 560,000 Dong.  That's pretty much around $28 for an amazing lunch for 3 people.  Wow - I thought it was a pretty good deal.

Then we had dinner with a total of 5 people.  The bill came back at 524,000 Dong.  Again, about $23 for a huge dinner that back home would easily be around $150.  So, while I was mulling over the cheapness of it all, we heard that Vietnamese teacher's salaries are around US$50 - 200 per month.  This is so hard to understand and put into perspective.  So our dinner, so cheap at $23, could have been 1/2 someone's monthly salary.  How can people live on that?  That does explain why people here need to use every resource they can to make ends meet.  I am enjoying my exploration of the culture in Vietnam.  I am sure I will bring home more insight into living simply, and more appreciation for the way of life that I have.

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