Houston Update

February 8, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So I’ve been in Houston for almost three weeks now. I found a really cute place to sublet, but I’m still jobless! It would really help if 1) I know what kind of job I wanted to do and 2) if I can keep my big, fat mouth shut and stop letting it slip that I will only be working for a couple of months. Oh well, something will work out, right? I’m not too stressed out about it, just a little bored and restless at times.

Life is good. Nothing new or exciting, but I kind of like it. I like being back in Houston. If anyone is ever in Houston, let me know and we can totally hang out. And better yet, if you have a fun job for me, I would love you forever. Well, maybe not forever, but at least for the moment.

Anyways, nothing much to update so I’ll leave it at that. Hope everyone is having an awesome week!

Concluding First Semester

November 27, 2006 at 4:14 am | Posted in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Yes, I still think of my life in terms of semesters. It’s a hard habit to break, but technically, I am still a student.

I leave for Memphis in 3 days! How crazy is that? There have been times these past couple of months when I would count down the hours until the day was over, but now, with what seems like just a blink of an eye, I’m yet again packing up and moving out. This first segment of the whole self-discovering journey was a bit tough, more so than I expected, but looking back, I’m glad that I took the risk to come to Vietnam. In this past semester, I discovered some crazy emotions that I didn’t know I had, met some really awesome people, learned a new language (that I should have known), and got to travel a country that I knew almost nothing about even though it’s my “mother land,” as a friend would say. For a while, I questioned my purpose in being here. I had moments when I freaked out because I had so many insecurities about everything around me because nothing was planned, nothing was set, nothing seemed right. I didn’t even realize that I could be this insecure about anything! I was out of my comfort zone (way out of it!) and now that I’m finally used to everything, I’m beginning to see that that may have been the whole point of me coming here–to figure out my limits, to live outside of my comfort level, to adapt and adjust. Haha, I sound like I’m writing yet another personal statement, but it’s true! Now that I’ve survived this first semester in Vietnam by myself, I do feel a little bit wiser, about what, I’m not sure, but still, it’s a nice feeling.

Though I’m super excited about going home and seeing everyone (and eating non-Viet food), I am a bit sad to be leaving the comfort that took me, what seems like forever, to establish. At least I know that it’ll be a little bit easier when I do return since I will have more of a foundation to start off on. I will miss my new friends, especially the ones who won’t be here when I return. Thank goodness for the internet and thefacebook! 😉

As for packing, I’m beginning to worry that my luggages might be overweight. I came with one overstuffed suitcase, and I’m leaving with two overstuffed luggages. I’m not sure how I accumulated so much stuff. Where did everything come from? AND this is AFTER the fact that I’m leaving behind two small duffel bags of things that I will need next semester!!! Sigh…the trouble with being in a country where the USD is so strong.

And lastly, a special thank you to all those who put up with my all my complaining, pouting, and homesickness during my “moments”. I think I would have gone crazy if I didn’t have the support network that I do!

Đà Lạt

November 10, 2006 at 6:00 am | Posted in Ramblings | 5 Comments

Update

November 4, 2006 at 8:22 am | Posted in Ramblings | 7 Comments

It’s been a while! Apart from my bittersweet birthday here (bitter because I was so far away from family and friends, super sweet because of a certain someone and some very sweet friends here), things have been okay. It was kind of hard when my parents left me , but I think I am finally settling into something. Jean-Marc from Rice came and visited for a weekend, and though I know he experienced some major culture shock, I think he enjoyed his visit. I hope so! HCM is definitely not your typical vacation hot spot, but that’s what traveling is all about.

I’m finally back in school, and I’m taking some really good classes. Four hours of Vietnamese a day should help me establish some sort of foundation for my reading and writing. Hopefully. It’s nice to be in classes with other people in similiar situations.

For a while, I was having doubts about my purpose in being here because I felt so unproductive. Seriously, I’ve been here for almost three months and I’ve only been taking classes for three of those weeks. The rest of the time was spent traveling with my parents, which, don’t get me wrong, was fabulous, but those weeks were so…relaxing and unclasslike. People do often say that the best way to learn is just to do, or in my case, to travel.

Nonetheless, I’ll be coming home for a little while in December to take care of some stuff for next year and of course, just to visit the people that I miss terribly. I’m really excited, but I am going to make the rest of this month as meaningful and productive as possible. Have a great day!

Cab Drivers

October 17, 2006 at 1:00 am | Posted in Ramblings | 5 Comments

One of my many rules here is that I will not get in a cab unless it’s with a company I’m familiar with. For some reason I broke that rule today and by the time I got back to my street, I was ready to strangle the driver. Usually there is a starting fee for the first 2 km, around 12,000 to 15, 000 đồng, and then an additional 1,000 to 2,000 đồng for every 0.1 km. Within two minutes, literally, from when I got into the cab, the meter started jumping. I think that he assumed that I didn’t know where I was going because I waved him down in the Backpacking district where all the foreigners live, but oh, was he wrong! When we were “negotiating” the real cost of the ride down from the 40,000 đồng that appeared on the meter, the dude had the nerves to ask for 35,000 đồng when I knew for a fact that we did not go much beyond the first set 2 km. So frustrating! I ended up giving him too much, but I didn’t want to deal with it. He took it without a word.

Sometimes I think that everyone (in my family and all the Vietnamese people I know) have a misconception of Vietnam. It’s a developing country, and though it’s not perfect, it has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. Corruption still exist, of course, but so far, I haven’t really had to deal with it that often. Then sometimes, I think that I’m the one with the misconception. Am I giving this place too much credit? Why are some Vietnamese people so devious and dishonest? It’s sooo frustrating when I do run into these people. The hardest part is for me to hold my tongue. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m in a foreign place with foreign laws and policies, and if I speak my mind, I may end up in the hospital for all I know (and I DO NOT want to go to the public hospitals here–it’s more like a factory than a hospital, at least in my opinion.)

Just wanted to share my very annoying and frustrating experience. Apart from that, my life is back on track with classes and whatnot. I do miss my parents though, but I’m glad to be “learning” again.

Đà Lạt

October 8, 2006 at 7:45 am | Posted in Ramblings | 8 Comments

The city of a thousand flowers…

The city of dreams…

The city of love…

The mountain city…

MY CITY! This is the city that I could have grown up in. Just being there sort of made me nostalgic for something that could have been. Do you ever wonder how your life would have been if just one thing was done differently? On this visit to Đà Lạt, without even going up to my old house or visiting people that my family knew, there was still some sort of longing, some sort of connection to the city. Everything was familiar, though that is probably because I’ve been there before on several visits. I don’t know. I’m being all sentimental, but I couldn’t help but feel like I belonged there somehow. Haha, even the people there are small in stature like me!

Out of all the places that my parents and I have visited, I adore this city. The people are sooooooo friendly! The weather was gorgeous–mild temperature, sunny skies, light wind. It was definitely sweater weather, and I loved it. Located about 1700 meters above sea level and surrounded by gorgeous pine forests and green mountains and hills, it is just so pretty and tranquil and lovely. The French architecture is absolutely gorgeous. (FYI: The city was founded by the French as a getaway from the hussle and bussle of the big, congested cities a little over a hundred years ago.) And it’s walkable, even with the hills and slopes! Oh, and the flowers! OH THE FLOWERS! They were everywhere! Really, everywhere! All types. It was flower heaven! Soooo pretty! Year around. I bought a dozen roses and two dozens of bông giấy for less than a dollar! If I really did live in this city, I would buy flowers three times a day for every room in the house! I just love flowers!

Hopefully I will post pictures up soon. I think it’s one of those places you just have to see to really understand. But maybe I have some prior attachments since it was my city for the first 4 years of my life after all. It was a good visit. The atmosphere definitely helped me let go, at least for a moment, some of the stuff I was preoccupied with. But I’m back, ready for whatever is next.

Sapa

September 24, 2006 at 8:20 am | Posted in Ramblings | 3 Comments

The indigenous H’mong and Dao villages outside of Sapa are as intacted and untouched as can be, even with the tourists. The atmosphere was so peaceful, so fresh. The people were absolutely gorgeous and gracious, though they were really insistent on selling you their handmade crafts. I bought a handful even though I have no use for them. Oh, the children were adorable! I wanted to just take them home with me! The city of Sapa was kind of neat too. It’s a small city located in the mountains, near the Vietnam/China border. It had a different, more wholesome feel than the other cities visited in the north. However, like the rest of Vietnam, it’s becoming more and more touristy. I guess it’s a good thing overall.



Halong Bay

September 24, 2006 at 8:01 am | Posted in Ramblings | 15 Comments

Absolutely gorgeous
 

Hà Nội vs. Hồ Chí Minh

September 20, 2006 at 8:20 am | Posted in Ramblings | 15 Comments

I sure hope that I put the right tones on those words…

My parents and I just got back from a short visit to Northern Việt Nam where we got to see a little of Halong Bay, Sapa and Hà Nội. It was so much fun! This is the first time that I’ve gotten to travel with my parents, and they’re really chilled, most of the time! Everything was really neat and EVERYONE was really nice. I was a little sick for a few days, but no worries because I’m on twenty different Eastern medicine pills…and I kid you not!

I wanted to make a quick comparison between the two biggest cities in Việt Nam, Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City. Hà Nội was definitely much greener, with lots more lakes and ponds and trees, and it was by far less crowded and congested. However, it was also more…political since it’s the capital and all, and this was definitely noticeable, if you know what I mean. Also, the economy there seems a little weaker than in the south. Houses were smaller and people seemed just a little less well-to-do, generally speaking. It was also more touristy since it is more historic. Everything semed to be made for tourists, which is nice for tourists I guess. The accent there is also very different. All three regions of Việtnam have different accents, with the Central area being the most difficult for me to understand. I’ve been told in the past that my Southern Vietnamese is improper and slanglike, but on several occasions on the tour, I was complimented on how cute my accent was. I was told that Northern boys really like Southern girls’ voice and accent. Maybe I should move up there??

HCM, on the other hand, is super crowded, congested, loud and very cement oriented. However, from what I learned and just my general observations, it’s more of a modern city with modern living and modern rules and regulations. It’s just easier to live here, I think. Maybe my southern biases are kicking in? Maybe, but nonetheless, I like traveling all around, but I think if I had to pick a city to live in, I would much rather live in this crowded city. I like the constant hustling and bustling of HCM.

As for now, we’re preparing for another trip to the southern most tip of Việtnam. My parents are really getting the hang of this traveling nonstop ordeal. I just hope that they’re having fun!

I have sooo many pictures!  I will post some later, maybe.

Many Faces of Ho Chi Minh

September 11, 2006 at 8:58 am | Posted in Ramblings | 2 Comments

French. Communism. Modernization.

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