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My plane ticket lolol

I’m sitting on the bus back to the city I’m teaching in.  It’s 10:20 in the morning. I’ve been up since 3:15. I’m exhausted and trying to reflect on this past weekend, though I can’t get past the thought of how much bacteria I have on my feet from the puke of a baby in front of me on another bus this morning. Yum.  I’m on my way back from a weekend in Nha Trang, a popular beach resort area here.  I left early Thursday, and almost didn’t make my first bus. It’s quite a lot of travel because of where my home base is.  I usually have to take a van to the bus station, then about a 4 and a half hour bus to Ho Chi Minh City. And finally, a short 30 minute flight to Nha Trang.  My van didn’t show up on time, so I had to call a Xe Om, basically a motorbike taxi, to drive me.  I made it to each destination on time, but was cutting it pretty close.  You really have to figure things out and go with the flow here.  People arrive late; sometimes people don’t even show up at all.  So, patience and flexibility are a must.  It does get incredibly annoying, but it is what it is. And it only makes ME want to be more punctual, because if y’all know me, you know I like to take my sweet, sweet time. Lolol.

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Anyway, I went to Nha Trang not really knowing what I was going to do, but I met another girl from my program and figured we’d plan as we went along. I was hoping for at least one beach day, but that was a total fail. It rained like heck the entire trip.  Only a few pockets of sunshine here and there.  I was not disappointed though.  It was wonderful and interesting and bizarre and exhausting and so much fun.

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So many temples

As soon as I got to Ho Chi Minh City, I felt so weird. Seeing sooo many foreigners at the airport was bizarre after almost three months of being the only young, blonde, white girl in the city I’m living in with very, very few foreigners.  And then getting off the plane was even more bizarre. There were signs in Russian EVERYWHERE.  And I could read them. And understand them.  The city was a whole different story.  It felt like 75-80% of the foreign/tourist population was Russian.  So much of the tourism industry there is catered to Russians.  I honestly felt like I was on a different planet.  My brain was so confused.  I could understand signs in Russian and in English, and there were so many white people, but things were still very Vietnamese, (and then of course there was the rain).  Coming from a place where I was slowly starting to communicate a little bit with people, and where I look totally different than everyone else, it was pretty much reverse culture shock plus culture shock in some twisted way.  It was fascinating though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience because it made me think more about my place here. I felt like a tourist a little, but at the same time, not at all. Very strange.

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We arrived at our hotel, and then went to find some food, which was faaaaabulous. The vegan food here never fails.  The things they do with noodles and veg and tofu, I don’t even know.  We ended up going back there the next two nights because it was so good!  Friday morning, I woke up early for a run along the beach which was cut short because there was just way too much rain and too many puddles.  Felt like I was doing some parkour type stuff the whole run. Breakfast consisted of us attempting to eat coconut flesh with broken spoons and trying to figure out where people were from.  Can you guess what the majority of our guesses were? Lol. We were right (we thought) for the most part. As much as we wanted the beach that day, it wasn’t gonna happen, so we booked a car to the mud baths and spa, which apparently is one of the things to do in Nha Trang.  Mud bath, a foot massage, and hanging out by the pool.  Definitely a good day.  And that was when people actually started talking to me in Russian.  During the whole trip, I probably got more Russian spoken to me from strangers than English. Bizarre, but so cool because I could understand, for the most part.  One guy in a small pharmacy shop catered to Russians didn’t even believe I was American.  Another was surprised when I told him where I was from because he said I had no accent when I spoke Russian. My fascination with this place didn’t stop. The entire trip I was really just amazed- the views, the people, the languages, the food, everything.

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Saturday, I attempted my run again along the beach and boy was it worth it.  I’ve been training for a half-marathon, and it was about time for a bit longer run.  Wasn’t sure how long would feel good, but I ended up doing 9.  It was just so beautiful running along the beach.  I really missed the smell of the sea and being by the water.  So I kept going.  And going. And going. Running really is a wonderful way to explore a new place, and I’m so grateful for these legs to be able to take me where I want to go.  For the rest of the day, we booked a car to take us around to various sights around the area, and since it was basically torrential downpour the entire time, I was very glad we did.  The views along the coast were incredible, and I even popped into the water for a dip at a smaller secluded beach area called Doc Let.  Our driver was also adorable and so nice and bought us some fried bananas which were bomb dot com.  And, for dinner we ended our trip at the place we started- Com Chay Bo De.  Veg food for the winnnnn.  We walked around a bit more, in the rain of course, and headed back because we had an early wake up call.

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Andddd, we’re back to this morning.  A 4:00 am taxi to the airport, and then a flight at 6:30 to Ho Chi Minh City.  We arrived and got into a cab, trying to explain to the driver that we wanted to go to the bus station.  He did not get it.  We ended up at the wrong bus station, and had to get on a local bus that literally stopped at every single stop along the way to the other big bus station.  Lots of different modes of transportation this morning. And I’m still not done yet!  I had a wonderful weekend though. It was pretty surreal.  It also reinforced how much I love interacting with many different people of different cultures and countries.  And how much I love languages.  And also just made me even more grateful for this opportunity that I have to experience a part of the world that is so new to me. It’s hard not to take things for granted sometimes, and being here has definitely put that into perspective again.  There are so many little things we don’t even think about, like clean water or a roof over our heads.  Seeing so much flooding here and how it destroys and even injures or kills people is heartbreaking.  So, I’m thankful.  Always thankful. For all of you beautiful readers, all of you wonderful people in my life I love so much.  For this beautiful earth. For life. For everything.  And on that note, thank you, thank you for reading.❤

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And one last food pic

Xoxo

Mia