Sunday, May 31, 2009

Goodnight America

On my last full day in the U.S. I got a going away present of two ticks on the back of either leg. If I'm lucky neither of them gave me lyme disease. I've been in VA the last week with family, mostly taking it easy. We went to the Zoo on Memorial Day. It rained. We went hiking in Leesburg. It rained. We went on a picnic. It rained and I got bit by ticks. I think you get the general theme. All in all, though, I've been in good humor. I got to spend time with my nephew, who I barely get to see, and say goodbye to my family. My mom already took a flight back to Cincinnati yesterday because she had to get back to work.
Tomorrow's agenda, pack and fly. Yes, I haven't packed yet. I'm not a procrastinator, I'm just a minimalist about using my time;) I don't fly out until 6pm and when I get to LAX I have to wait until 1AM coastal time until my plane for Tapei leaves. Technically that means I still have another full day in America left, but anyone who's ever traveled through airports knows that they are their own country.
Since it will probably be a few before I can update again, here's what's up: Flying into Hanoi, finding a bus to Cat Ba Island, finding a hotel, sleeeeeeeeping, and then rock climbing! Can't wait to share.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amma's Kitchen

All my friends and coworkers are on a mission to make it as hard as possible for me to leave. Kind words, nice presents and big dinners. It's going to be a difficult exodus. Sometimes I wonder if I'm shedding layers faster than I can grow new ones.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Plan

June 1st I will be flying farther than I've ever gone before, Viet Nam. After taking a one month CELTA language certification course at ILA Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, I'll begin a year of teaching. After I've completed my contract I will...well, I don't know yet. I'm certainly not short on ambitions, but I've yet to find my path, so for now I'm taking it one step at a time. Maybe I'll stay in Viet Nam and teach longer, maybe I'll stay and do something else, I could go teach somewhere else if I so desire. Or perhaps, after a year of fresh experience that will be unequal to anything I've done so far, I will have new ideas and new dreams to pursue.

Before I get ahead of myself, Ho Chi Minh City won't be my port of entry when I arrive in Vietnam on the 3rd. In fact, the program doesn't start until the 22nd, giving me almost three weeks. The way I see it, I'm not going to have much free time the first couple of months between getting certified and adjusting to my role as a teacher. That's why I'm taking the first week for leisurely pursuits in beautiful Ha Long Bay.

I'll be staying on Cat Ba Island and doing some rock climbing, kayaking and relaxing on the beach. And no, I'm not going with a fully organized tour that tells you where to eat, where to sleep and where to buy your souvenirs. I'm freestyling the whole operation! Well, not everything. To start out I'm going to climb with SloPony, a rock climbing troupe that basically set all the climbing routes in the Bay. I'm hoping to make connections from there and plan climbs with other visitors.

After about a week on the Island it'll be back to Hanoi where I will catch a train/plain/bus[not sure yet] to Ho Chi Minh City. Where I will be staying at **** Hotel[I don't know this either yet:)] until I can find my own place. Two weeks should be enough for me to adjust to Saigon before courses begin. In my past travels, by the time I've stayed in a place for almost two weeks it begins to feel familiar and comfortable. But the differences between those times and now are huge. This won't be with family, or friends or an organized group, this will be entirely by myself. I'm going through independence boot camp.


I'll try to make this first post short. Its 2am, and instead of working on one of my higher priorities [like finishing the 1040X, studying Vietnamese, or editing] I've been the past few hours online and decided to top it off with starting this blog I'd been meaning to. So I guess, this is the most productive I'll get.
This will be my first blog, I'll admit I'm skeptical if I can keep it up. My ambition is that I can keep it updated daily[once in 'nam] and treat it as a journal. This will not be easy for me as even my past attempts at keeping a journal have been met with inconsistency. Maybe going public will help, my angry 'fans' can guilt me if I go too long without posting.

I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. When people ask me generic greeting questions like, 'how are things?' or 'what's new?' most of the stories worth telling don't surface in time to share. I don't know if this is a common experience, but my mind doesn't cluster the events of my life into these vague categories. So, with me going to Vietnam to teach English for a year or more, I wanted to be able to offer more than just saying, 'things are good' over the phone[my least favorite form communication]. With a blog I can take everybody with me, in a way, and it will make the questions more specific[e.g.'what's the deal with that landlord you wrote about?'].
Also, keeping a daily blog will be good writing practice. Something I'll need in a my post-graduate life if I want my skills[what little] to remain sharp.
So there, not as short as I'd hoped and yet so much more to say. Let's just leave it for another day.

Next time: where, why, when, what...the basics. Probably should get into those :)