So it is my third week here and I think I have finally adjusted to my perma-sticky state. Thank god for deodorant…don’t get me wrong the Mekong Delta region has some serious perks but the heat is not one of them. Jules and I feel fairly settled in our new house, although it took a fair bit of getting used to. The row of houses we live in are gray and concrete, we call it dystopia. However, we have done our best to make it feel like a home. Thankfully we discovered a store called Big C, which is basically like a Vietnamese Walmart, and have made a few major hauls to liven up the grayness of our space. Mainly, we reside on the floor of our living room amid our fan sanctuary. A major bummer of the house is that there are slats in the upper parts of the ceiling in the entry way, as well as, in the doors leading outside, one of which is right next to my bedroom. Joy.
A couple of days ago I watched a snake slither into my bedroom via the lovely slatted door near my bedroom. At which point, I realized that my grit level was at an all new high. It only took three screaming girls, one heroic guy, and a dirty old mop to trap and kill the snake. The fun never stops in Nam. Aside from the minor snake hiccup, life is good. When I first arrived, I thought life in Can Tho seemed extremely fast paced. But once your eyes adjust and blur out the traffic hum of the streets, you start to realize that there is a lot of chilling to be done here.
I just started teaching my first class this past week, so I have a feeling the open hours of my day will start to become few and far between. My first class was a success although the process of assimilating into the classroom flow was a little rocky. This was mainly due to the fact that I took over the class from a teacher who had been teaching the course for the past two weeks. The initial transition had me a little anxious because I was not given any sort of syllabus or rubric for the course. I am teaching fourth year university students in a Listening and Speaking class, so most of them are around my age (also a factor that is extremely intimidating). All I have been given is a textbook and other than that it is up to me. I know, deep breaths. I’m doing my best to go with the flow and take advantage of the autonomy that I have been granted. The good news is, I am feeling much more comfortable after some planning and meeting with my class a second time. I am thrilled by the potential for this semester and I am excited to share my upcoming plans for my students. My hope is to utilize their interests about American culture and shape the class into something that is unconventional and worthwhile to their education beyond just the English language.
Before our school year began, Jules and I set off on one last adventure with two of the Princeton In Asia (PIA) boys who live a few houses down from us. Their plan was to hit two places in Vietnam, Đà Lạt and Nha Trang, and we were more than willing to tag along. I am so happy that we did because it was amazing!! Our first stop was in Đà Lạt. We flew out of Ho Chi Minh City last Thursday on a short 45 minute flight and arrived in the early afternoon. Đà Lạt was exactly what the doctor ordered: temperature at brisk 70 degrees and breezes that actually felt like breezes, ah it was heavenly. Our first day there we palled around on some motorbikes (Jules and I’s first time…woot woot we survived) and explored the city. We visited the Hằng Nga Guesthouse, also called the “Crazy House”, which is an unconventional series of buildings by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga. I can best describe it as the Vietnamese Gaudí meets zen nature garden vibes, aka where you want to be. It was so magnificent and breathtaking. We had a ball.
The following day was one for the books. It was day two of Julia and I riding motorbikes, so naturally we decided we could handle biking 150 km in the Vietnam Countryside (sorry mom & dad). BUT WE DID IT. That day was the most life affirming day of my life AND the wildest. Jules and I kept remarking on the overwhelming sense of immensity that came over us on our bikes, riding on the back of mother nature, totally at her will. If you ever have the opportunity to do something similar, take it, you won’t regret it! As for the waterfalls we visited, I am going to let the pictures do all the talking because I don’t think I can do them justice.
After our jungle adventure we boarded a bus to Nha Trang, the boys opted for motorbike, but Julia and I didn’t feel like testing our livelihood any further. The drive over was incredibly gorgeous and took about four hours. Along the way, we winded our way down the mountainside in a sea of green and caught glimpses of small waterfalls in the cracks of the hillside. Our first night in the new city we went to dinner per the recommendation of our hotel keeper. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were instructed to go over and select our desired meal, all of which was alive and swimming in about 25 different tanks. We chose crab, oysters (sorry Bailey I had to let them take my oyster virginity), and some sort of white fish. It was a mad luxurious moment and I loved it. The next day we spent solely at the beach with four fresh coconuts and a bottle of rum. As you can imagine, we had a terrible time. Ha. But for now its back to reality, sort of, as we begin our year! Cheers!