Sunday, 19 February 2012

Binh Duong New City, Vietnam

It is very bizarre to be living in a city under construction, a city which will ultimately be home to some one million people, but where, currently, you are one of only about 40 permanent residents!  That's the situation I find myself in having accepted a teaching position at Eastern International University in Binh Duong province, Vietnam. 

As I wrote about in my earlier post, I had researched my new employer online before coming to Vietnam and had found a promotional YouTube video about the university.  At the same time, I found a similar one about the new city:


It looked good and we were excited about the prospect of living in a brand-new city.

Dragon Dancers at the Opening
When we first arrived, back in September, we were accommodated in hotels in Thu Dau Mot, a provincial town about a 20 minute drive away from the university.  After about three weeks, though, the first of four blocks of apartments in the Aroma complex in the new city was completed and the majority of the foreign teachers were moved in.  Some of us were invited to attend the grand opening where we were given symbolic 'keys' and envelopes of lucky money.  The event was covered on national TV and one of our number was interviewed about the apartments and how she felt about the prospect of living in a sparkling new city.  Obviously, the purpose of the event was to sell some units and to attract investment for further development, but it was all very exciting!  You can see more photos of the event here.
Wide, empty roads!

So, now we have been living here for four months, how is the reality of daily life?  Well, pretty good actually!!  Obviously, there are inconveniences.  There is nowhere locally to shop, so a supermarket trip has to be planned in advance and undertaken in a taxi.  There is a mini-mart in the foyer of our block, but with so few potential customers, as you can imagine, the choice is very limited!  Similarly, if you want to eat out, you need to go into town.  Again, there is a cafe in our block, but the quality of the food is rather dubious and the drinks are very expensive by local standards.  Some of my colleagues have now acquired motorbikes so that they are able to escape the peace and quiet to the bright lights and noise of the local town.

Landscaped gardens in front of our apartment block
I said that we are living in a city under construction.  This is true, but it's not as terrible as it sounds.  When laying out the new city, the architects and planners paid particular attention to the open spaces and leisure areas and these parts of the project were completed first.  So, the city is landscaped already.  There is a large park with a lake and lots of beautiful trees and shrubs which are kept immaculately by an army of gardeners.  It's lovely to be able to go for a walk in pleasant surroundings after a day at work.

Water park illuminated at night
Lucky Square convention centre is also complete.  It is already being used as a venue for corporate events and parties.  Behind it is an attractive water park which is lit with different coloured lights at night.  It provides an ideal backdrop for wedding photos!

Also open for business is the sports centre complete with tennis courts and a large outdoor pool.

The roads are all laid out, too, even though there is very little traffic!

In and amongst the finished infrastructure, the building work continues apace.  We already have the shells of numerous individual villas plus a couple more apartment blocks as well as lots of retail units.  The end date, however, is many years hence.  I probably won't be here long enough to see it anywhere near finished, but, for now, I'm enjoying the novelty of being one of the first residents of Binh Duong New City!

If you are interested, you can read more about the project here and see more of my photos here or here.

22 comments:

  1. I would love to visit this town one Tuesday when I'm in Thu Dau Mot teaching. It sounds fascinating!!!

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    1. You'd be very welcome!! I'd be happy to show you round!

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  2. Hi Andrea, I was smiling when I was reading your blog. Aroma cafe is exactly what you described. I am working in VSIP 2, very near to Aroma. We are on the way setting up a new company so no kitchen yet. Every.day.Aroma.!
    I have a group called Binh Duong Expats on LinkedIn.Com. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Binh-Duong-Expats-4324501?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr
    It would be great if you want to join and networking with expats who live and work in Binh Duong.
    Cheers,
    Mina Vu.

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  3. Hi - thanks for the comment - it's always great to meet new people via my blog! I've just requested to join your LinkedIn group & look forward to meeting you soon!

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  4. I read your blog with great interest. I am retiring soon and hope to find a teaching job in the Cu Chi or Binh Duong area. My wife's family lives near Cu Chi. New City is obviously isolated from hustle and bustle of the city. What attracted you to the teaching position at the university?

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  5. Hi - good to hear from you! As I explained in my other post - http://worldteacher-andrea.blogspot.com/2012/02/eastern-international-university-eiu.html - I was drawn to the job at EIU because I wanted to be part of something new. As a senior teacher here, I am involved in course design and syllabus writing, as well as teaching. Every day is interesting and challenging as we all adapt to the new environment. We are all learning as we go along as we have no model to work to. There are minor gripes, but, overall, it's a good place to work!

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  6. I have been reading about Project 2020, MOET's attempt to have all graduating secondary school and university students fluent in English by the year 2020. Do you think this is a realistic goal?

    I guess the key word here is "fluent." My nieces (high school students) do relatively advanced exercises in grammar and appear to have a decent vocabulary. They simply can't make themselves understood when they speak and they are unable to respond to me when I speak.

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    1. Hi - I'm afraid I don't! As you say, the key word is 'fluent'. Our experience here is exactly the same as yours. Our students have had up to 11 years of English tuition when they come to us. Their knowledge of grammar is generally good, but they are neither able to produce the language, nor are they able to understand when they listen. Much of the problem is that they have had no exposure to native English speakers, either in real life or on recordings. The only time they've heard English spoken has been by their Vietnamese teachers. Many of the errors they make in pronunciation are so fossilised that it's almost impossible to correct them.

      As part of the MOET project, we run a 'teach the teachers' programme here. We are teaching the local primary and secondary teachers, the goal being to get all of them to a good IELTS level by 2016. From the low level they are starting with, this is also a very tall order!

      However, I have to say that the intention is good and Vietnam is taking steps in the right direction with programmes such as ours where we now have 36 native English teachers.

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    2. Hi Andrea,
      I am an English teacher working in Ho Chi Minh City.
      I have a BS Degree and a TEFL Certificate earned here in HCMC.
      I have over two years experience teaching English here and would be interested in applying for a position with your school.
      How would I go about applying for a position there?
      Thanks,
      Don Snowdon
      snowdondondon@yahoo.com
      cell phone 01226725304

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    3. Dear Don,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - the long weekend was great, but my feet haven't touched the ground since!!

      We are recruiting teachers at the moment, both for the university and for a new language school project being set up by the company in Thu Dau Mot. I've tried to send you the details you need, but your e-mail address doesn't appear to be accepting mail. Send me a message: wade.andrea@eiu.edu.vn and I'll tell you who you need to apply to.

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  7. Hi Andrea, I'm an American working in Binh Duong and would love to meet up with you sometimes. What's a good way to reach you?

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  8. Hi - where in Binh Duong do you work? You can contact me via this blog or via my Twitter account - @worldteacher.

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  9. Hi Andrea,
    GREAT to find your blog! I just submitted my resume for a job at EIU - sounds like a very happening place. I am a teacher too, currently in Thailand. I have been in a number of countries - hope I get the job! It sounds perfect....Julia

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  10. Hi Julia - thanks for reading my blog and for posting a comment. Good luck with the application!

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  11. Are you still a senior teacher there or have you moved on in this fast moving industry? I've sent an email to the address you gave above.

    Rgds,
    Dave

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  12. Hi Julia, my name is Chuck. I was wondering what's the cost of living there and what's an average salary?

    Thanks!

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    2. wellcome to binh duong.the cost of living is cheaper than Ho Chi Minh city.full facilities,entertainment,bars,cafe,restaurent...local ppl here are very friendly.hope u get a job here soon.

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  13. hi ms Andrea! my name's Lien student in Ho Chi Minh city, now i live in Thu Dau Mot_ Binh Duong, sometimes you feel sad and want go somewhere wellcome to Thu Dau Mot. i can become free guides for you
    p/s: you can contact me with this email: nguyenlien.land@gmail.com

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    1. Hai Toan Toan Tong, Hi Ms. Andrea, my name is Sari, I'm Indonesian. I will follow my husband move to Industrial park of Dong an, Thuan an Town, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam for work on April 2014. I know nothing about the city, culture, living cost, language, or others. My english also not really good. May you give me some information, share, advice, etc. Please help me. my email address : kharismacandrasari@yahoo.co.id thank you so much for your kindly help :)

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  15. Hi Sailiwei and others,

    Zaky here, an expat! I gonna move to BDNC very soon (jan 2014). I'm looking for a share apartment with one or to people. more specifically furnished room. any information would be highly appreciated :)

    email: amity.du@gmail.com, skype:uyencandy

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