You can create the feeling. It's lunch time, a crazy day with no down moment, and it's finally time to eat and sit for just a few moments. I had had that kind of day and was running a little late. I grabbed a tray, and looked up at the placards announcing the day's fare...
or skewed beef.
Which would you have chosen? (I am pretty sure they meant sloppy joes and skewered beef.) I appreciate the reminders that am still in a foreign land, but I did opt for a sandwhich instead!
Other reminders I live in Vietnam? The
offered on the local spa sign. Typo or no typo?
The Sunning of the Babies (Every morning the nannies take babies down to the courtyard under our window to let babies be naked in the sun.)
I had a glimpse of the Vietnam to come.... the other day a 1990 Honda Accord passed by with no less than 8 people in it. OK, you may be thinking, how is that any different than the hoards of motobikes with whole families on them? Here are the differences - it is a car. And even more significantly, it is a used car. It is one of the first used cars that I have seen on the streets - it would be fun to learn about where that car came from. Up to this point, cars have been only new, expensive, and available to only the very rich. I can only imagine what roads will look like here a year from now.
It has been an eventful few months since my last post. (OK 4+ months!) I am happiest to report that we now have awesome plans for next year. After a couple of tense months, we found out that we will be living and learning in Hong Kong! I accepted a 5th grade position at Hong Kong International School and couldn't be happier about it. The last two years I had the opportunity to be there for the Literacy Coach Asia Institute, and I am pretty sure it is the fact that I was a known entity that helped me get hired along with my whole wonderful family. With my work visa comes a visa for Charles. There are an incredible number of international schools in Hong Kong so we are hoping that Charles will find a great first teaching job too. (He is finished with course work and has only the Praxis left.) Save your pennies friends. Hong Kong is the place you want to visit us! It is quite an amazing, vibrant, East meets West city. We will probably be downsizing our living space, but will be sure to incorporate places for our friends to sleep. I am dreaming about book stores and museums and so many cultural events you have to choose. It has been so much fun to explore the internet for all there is to do and see...
International Day Beauties! Ready to represent the good ol' USA at school.
Maeve Waugh is 8! How lucky she was that Grandma was here to celebrate it with us. She looks cool with her rad new skate board, and I can't believe how big she is getting. We also hosted a small party at the local play place and at home. Our Wii system was a hit.
Happy Birthday Maeve! Beautiful new duds - thanks Grandma!
Friday afternoon birthday party.
Glimpses of teenager...
Ice cream cake in it's most purest form.
Grandma was here to celebrate with us.
Visits from Grandma are magical no matter where you are in the world. When Mom came, we went to an uber fancy place in Danang to relax, swim, and get a few spa treatments. A surprise treat was a morning excursion to Hoi An. It is a Unesco World Heritage site that they have simply gotten right. It's a small, old village that is beautifully maintained. It is the first time I have walked into a house in Vietnam that you can tell is 100s of years old. Beautiful shops and restaurants cater to the steady stream of tourists. It was lovely.
Our ride from the airport in Danang to Fusion Maia, the resort we enjoyed, was quite the adventure. After we got in with our bags (Mom, Maeve, Sophie, and I) the driver very deliberately chose a song to play for us. The windows were rolled all of the way down. (We were sucking in the cool Danang air.) Wind Beneath My Wings was blasting so loud from the stereo that my fillings were vibrating. I looked back to see Maeve and Sophie quite unphased (explained by being used to living here). Mom and shot looks at each other, laughing a nervous "Should we ask him to turn it down?" laugh. I wasn't sure how this guy would respond if I asked him to turn it down. He seemed so proud of his music choice for us but also a little belligerent and volatile too. Thankfully his cell phone ringing made the choice for us. We were quite relieved to arrive at our destination.
I also got to take my 5th graders on an overnight trip to Cat Tien National Park. I love how familiar these trips feel to me (I am not sure I can even count how many I have been on.), even in an international setting. And I love the fact that on this overnight school trip I saw amazing, exotic things - gibbons calling in the wild and a hornbill along the river. We visited Dao Tien animal rescue center, who rescues and rehabilitates golden cheeked gibbons, silver langurs, black shanked douks, and pygmy loris. (Me too! I didn't know about any of these besides the gibbons until I learned about them from the center. They are all primates.)
Wild Ginger on the forest floor.
Looking closely at microecosystems.
Giant trees o f the tropical rainforest.
On a visit to Dao Tien we got to see Da, Lat, and their baby Hang. (Cleverly named because he holds on to his Mom from the knees down most of the time.) Da and Lat are gibbons that were rescued from a tourist attraction where they were kept in small cages and fed only milk. They mated, and had Hang soon after. (Gibbons mate for life. It is the females who have interesting "wandering" habits that keep the men in "check".) It is amazing that they are on their way to being rereleased into the wild. It was interesting to learn about the process Dao Tien goes through to rescue and rerelease primates into the wild. Because they are working to release these animals in the wild, you aren't aloud to get close to them. It is quite a different experience from zoos or other rescue centers I have been to. I was also fortunate enough to see a wild gibbon call in the early morning. Gibbons have an amazing, unique call that is unmistakeable. He was a single male, and his call was a little mournful..
If you can zoom in, you can see Hang and Lat. Hang was venturing further away from Lat than he even had before.
We also got to feed the rescued sun and moon bears at WAR, another animal rescue site. Students were invited into the play enclosure (sans bears) to hide and spread fruit and peanut butter all around the area. Then we all got to watch as the bears came and found the goods. (After we left the area and the electric fence was turned back on.) Very fun.
Moon bear finding the hidden yummies.
The student led campfire was one of those moments I treasure working in an international school. It started with a student singing a beautiful little song in Israeli, then translating it for us (a very touching song that about Moms) and continued with songs, stories, and jokes in Korean, English, and Chinese. My colleague gave a great "Toasting a marshmallow 101" lesson. Later one students walked up to another colleague after carefully roasting a marshmallow and asked "What do I do with this?" It was the first time that more than half of my students had ever roasted a marshmallow. As a matter of fact, it was the first time many of my students had hiked in the woods, been outside at night in the dark, and been away from home by themselves. It was definitely memory making in action.
If I am being realistic, I will admit that this is the last entry to Vietnam Days. Sorting, selling, packing, and the end of school will soon make my days busier than I would like. I am so interested to see what sticks about this place, what our memories will be flooded with when we think about Vietnam.
We are so excited about our move to Hong Kong. Vietnam will forever be a part of our lives, a part of our beings. It has been an interesting country to live in, and I know we are different because of our three years here.
Tam Biet Vietnam.