When you can’t pay your power bill (and other cultural differences)

I have to pay my power bill at the mini-mart across the street and I’ve tried three times now with no luck. The first time I went in and the girl typed in my information and just shook her head at me. I had a friend tell me the date on the bill is not the due date but the first day you can pay it, so I waited and went back. The second guy typed in the information and said ” no, not working.” Ugh, okay…. I texted my landlord with a picture of the bill. No answer. So I texted Linh, the agent I went through. She doubled checked that yes, it is a current bill. I only have to pay a portion of it because I didn’t live in the apartment the whole month. (My portion is the equivalent of USD $2.80. I sleep with my AC on!! Everything here makes me feel like I was getting ripped on in the States). To make things easier, I’m paying the whole bill and the land lord is taking the rest off my rent. She advised me to pay it at the mini-mart. I went back. Third times a charm, right? Nope! This clerk told me the information wasn’t correct. 😳 Back to Linh I went. I am now going to try to pay it via a bank transfer. Hopefully that will work.

Other things that have been different….

Sidewalks. They are hit or miss. Sometimes there is one and sometimes there isn’t and most if the time when there is one it’s bad. Which means I stub my toes often and I wash my feet a lot! I don’t care where you live, muddle puddles can be gross.

Crosswalks. They mean nothing. You have to commit when you cross a street. You just slowly start walking, try to make eye contact with the drivers (I also like to put my arm out), and know that they will stop or swerve around you.


Horns. Just people letting you know they are behind you. No malice intended. (I’m still getting used to this).

Markets. There is a market for everything.

Fabric market- my quilting heart loved this place!


Uniform/hardware/antique market (click on the pictures to enlarge)

Food markets (click on the pictures to enlarge)

Cold showers. Okay, this one is my fault and not so much a cultural thing. There is a switch in my hallway outside my guest bathroom that I have to switch on to get hot water in my shower. Nine times out of ten I forget and by the time I realize it it’s not worth getting my floors all wet to go turn it on.

Taxis. I think I mentioned this before. I don’t have a car (nor do I want one here), so anytime I want to do something outside of D2 (my little area of town) it involves a taxi. But, they are super cheap.

Personal space. This has been hard for me. I have a bubble and it’s quite large (Jessica do you remember our CPI training?) sales clerks here follow you around. I almost elbowed one the other day because I didn’t realize how close she was to me. They don’t think you’re stealing, they are just there to help. Once you buy something they take it to a register, where someone else takes your money, someone else gives you a receipt, and if it’s electric, someone else tests it. I can’t go shopping when I’m tired. I get overwhelmed with all the people.

Bottled water. I miss being able to use tap water. Hardest thing so far.

Plastic bags for drinks.


I get why they do this. There are no cup holders on motorbikes. But, really don’t like plastic.

Chai tea. Yes, I went to Coffee Bean! They are the only place around that has a good chai tea. Everywhere else (even Starbucks), I have tried just taste like watered down chai milk. Not a fan.

AQI. What’s AQI you ask? Air Quality Index. My school monitors the air pollution. IMG_3168

Green is what you want. Yellow is okay. Red mean you can’t be outside. I was told that companies around here can only release things into the air at night. The sun will burn off the bad pollution throughout the day. We’ve only had one red day so far. I wish I would have taken a picture because as I looked out my apartment window it looked like a heavy fog had settled over the city.

Checks. I kinda love this one. Most of the places I’ve eaten at wait to bring the check until you ask. Why do I love this? Restaurants aren’t in a hurry for you to leave. It’s nice to be able to sit at chat with friends and not be rushed out when you’re done eating.

Spellings of my name. So far I’ve gotten Smith (this is typical), Shunshine Smith, and Sunshin. I’m sure this list will grow. Ha ha!

Then there are just your normal language barriers. People here are nice though and try to help you when they can.

Please don’t read this as a list of negatives. It’s not. Just differences.

Positive of the week. The dirt road patch between my work and apartment was fully paved last night! Woop wood! No more muddy puddles or trying to ride my bike through pot holes!

Also, the last couple of nights I’ve been able to watch so amazing thunder and lightening out of my windows! It’s been awesome!

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉

One thought on “When you can’t pay your power bill (and other cultural differences)”

  1. Hi, I had someone tell me about the air pollution, and that it’s pretty bad! You should take a few pictures of the lightning/thunder storms. Travis would love it!

    Sent from my iPhone



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