Saturday, February 28, 2009

Highlights of Hanoi

This was our day to see more of Hanoi. 5 members of the team that had already arrived set off for an excursion. We saw the Temple of Literature, Ho chi Minh Mausoleum and the One pillar Pagoda. We walked across town and back to the Old Quarters. During our walk, we took opportunity to get to know each other better.
One of the highlights for me today was the Water Puppet Theater. This traditional Vietnamese art form consists of wooden puppets manipulated by puppeteers whose stage is a pool of water. Both puppets and puppeteers are in the water. Musicians performed tradition style music with drums, flutes, stringed instruments and vocalist set with puppets depicting stories rich in Vietnamese folklore. Imagery included fiery dragons with seas boiling around them, to scenes depicting water buffalo and daily life in the rice paddies, and legends such as Legend of the Restored Sword and a giant golden turtle. Even though performed in Vietnamese, the humor and challenges of life revealed in a very unique manner.
I also visited a market. The colors / smells associated with the flowers / fruits & vegetables / fresh meat / live seafood are rich. As Gosia and I walked along, a catfish jumped out of its take bowl onto the sidewalk. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to visit local markets and try a few new delicacies.
The evening concluded with a kick off dinner of the whole team. We experimented and tried out a variety of dishes. The dinner afforded us with another opportunity to connect with each other.

Good Morning Vietnam!

After breakfast, I went in search of Thap Rau, the Tortoise Tower. The tower is located in the middle of a lake surrounded by walkways and benches. This was my initiation into the sights and sounds of Hanoi, At the other end of the lake was the Huc Bridge, crossing over to the Ngoc Son Temple. It was very relaxing, walking and sitting in a bench watching people go by. The change to the Old Quarter was dramatic. Here there were many motorbikes and shops if many kinds. The first thing I had to do was to learn to cross the street. I got help from a couple I met from Melbourne. (Thanks again & was great to meet you) – much better to have someone more experienced to take cues from.
For dinner, after getting things somewhat under control, I had dinner at the sky bar at the Golden Lotus and had my first bowl of Pho in Vietnam. I even ended back upstairs after meeting several members of the team.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The journey begins

Hi - My name is Debbie Perry and this is my first blog entry for Vietnam Team 3. (or Haiphong Blue Team). At the moment, I’m on a plane flying to Hanoi. I can hardly believe this day has arrived. I’ll briefly share how I got to this point. It started back when I noticed a w3 entry discussing opportunities with IBM’s new Corporate Service Corp, and I decided to apply. I knew competition would be difficult – but somebody has to win the lottery!
On November 18, I got an email informing me that I had been selected for the CSC. On Dec 11 I learned that I would be going to Vietnam. On Dec 18, I joined the first conference call with my new team members.
Since that point, we have all been busy with our ‘day’ jobs, as well as getting to know each other and completing 3 months worth of material to help us prepare. We’ve learned more about cultural differences around the world, issues related to economic development, leadership skills, team building and a variety of other topics. Not only will we be in Vietnam, but the team is made up of IBMers from England, India, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and I’m from the US.
I think its really beginning to sink in how much of an eye opening experience this will be. As I boarded the shuttle bus for the plane to Hanoi from Hong Kong, I heard no one speaking English. And saw only a couple of ‘Westerners’. I’m going to be a significant minority. There have been instances where I was in minority pop – but only for very short periods of time. I realize that it may be this way for the next couple of months, That will take some getting used to. It may mean I actually will keep a journal to share my impressions.