Saturday, September 12, 2009

How can I forget?

Everybody felt very strange because of the first meeting but then that sensation was disappeared. We became more friendly. Did you think so?
We had 1 month, it was not long and not short but it voiced all things. It was honest sentiment that we shared!
- Xuan, Tom, Angie, Sonny and me came to Duc Son orphanage with 4 weeks. We taught English to childrens. We had a highly valuable lesson: that was affection!
- We (Xuan, Tom, Jan, Diem, Nhan, Albert, Jeannea) had a good time together.
I will remember a good time when we spent together! I really didn't want to say goodbye! I miss all of you so much!
Thank you David!
Thank you Co Hong Anh!
Thank you Xuan, Tom, Jan, Albert!
Thank you everybody!
I hope we will have chances to meet again!
I want to say: "Nice to meet you!" and "good luck to you!"
I love all of you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Until Next Time

I've said a few words outside airport gates and beside taxi doors in Hue and in Saigon. I've sent some messages through email and facebook to people in Asia and America. Now, I want to leave one unified message to all the people I met this summer.

You all mean more to me than words could express. I will cherish my experiences this past summer for all my life. I've never felt such pain in a goodbye. I wasn't prepared to be hit by the numbing realization of seeing it all come to an end as I sat on an airport bench in Saigon. I wouldn't give up any of these feelings, though, because it was the price of having so much fun with everyone for 5 great weeks. I don't have any regrets. I'd pay the price a hundred times over to relive one minute of our time together.

Some of you, I'll see around campus. Others, I might see again on a return trip to Vietnam. For everyone else, through effort of our own or happy circumstance, I'm sure we'll meet up again somewhere down the road. I look forward to the day we can again say hello and goodbye. Until know how to find me online or leave a comment if you really don't.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hen Gap Lai, Hue!

It seemed to me that the morning we left Hue was the most beautiful one. As if though every color on the earth had been magnified, every hue sharp and clear as the clouds that stood out from the sky. Starting around 5 AM, the hallway in Thanh Noi hotel slowly woke up to a quiet buzz of activity. Strolling down between the rooms, perhaps the passing stranger heard the noises of suitcases being squeezed shut, zippers being pulled, things being tossed aside, and soft sobs as reality came with the dawn. I sat on the edge of my bed, staring at my now empty room. Somehow, I felt sad to be leaving this hotel room, phuong so 40, that had been my home for the past five weeks. After weekend trips I'd rushed back to this room and thrown myself on the mattress, glad to be back. My two suitcases sat upright, stuffed to the brim with dirty laundry and souvenirs, quiet mementos of Hue. I paced up and and down between beds, searching with my eyes to make sure I'd left nothing behind. A bag with hotel donations sat on a nearby chair. Outside my room, I could hear the voices of other students as they knocked on doors to request back rented items. I opened the door to my room, palming the mushroom shaped key in one hand; pushing the door back into place with one last, final jerk. Students nodded to each other as we passed by in the hallways, still dressed in bed clothes. I heaved my luggage into the front lobby, a heavy finality settling down in my chest. Slowly, the sleek wooden chairs in front of the front desk filled up with luggage: duffle bags filled with clothing, suitcases with wheels, non la hats balanced as if it were an identifying marker on luggage.
We gathered together to say our last goodbyes; too soon the van was in the driveway. Secret and open tears were wiped away on shirt sleeves, hugs were exchanged. Goodbyes were whispered in ears, low voices murmured consolations. We would be together again, soon, one day. We believed with all our hearts. A month seemed too short. A month brought all of us together, bonded us the way things do when you eat together, learn together, travel together.
Luggage was handed up and packed in uneven piles in the van. We waved, cried our goodbyes one more time.
Hue seemed to know we were leaving. The sky was never bluer, the clouds white in bass relief. I watched the passing scenery closely as we made our way to the airport, trying to memorize Hue. The bridge that we'd often passed on many a evening, wind whistling through our hair as we laughed on motorbikes. The familiar, sleek shape of Big C, with its green and yellow colors. The daily whiz and rush of the locals on their commutes to market, to work, to family. The women, hefting loads of fruit, bread, and anything else, on shoulder poles, trotting down dusty streets. If I could, I would have rolled down the window to hear the now familiar Hue-accented Vietnamese, as familiar (although not as understandable) as English. Were we leaving? It seemed too soon.
Hue Phubai Airport rolled up, and soon we were in the mad airport rush to check in, get through security, and line up to board the plane. Before we knew it, the rickety plane was rushing down the runway, and we were soaring in the air. Hue now lay like a small green jewel beneath us, becoming smaller and smaller, until it was now an indistinguishable emerald mass bordered by a long strip of white coastline.
Tam biet, Hue. Thank you for having us for a wonderful 5 weeks. I will never forget everyone I met there--the teachers, the hotel staff, our Hue friends from the college. Thank you for opening our eyes to a new and different culture, of realizing the joys and simple pleasures of living in another country. Coming back to San Francisco, I was shocked by how large everything seemed: the airport seemed too big, the long highways with its mass of shiny cars, the rows of multi-storied houses. I started to miss Hue, to realize how appreciative I had come of Vietnam. For a month, I'd started to forget the comforts of home and realized the material luxuries I have at home--things that I didn't need. I found myself wanting to ride a motorbike through streets lined with green trees, lily-pad covered moat on one side, a wide shining river on the other. The sights of Hue filtered through my mind: children and adults flying neon-hued kites against an evening sky, streets of yellow lights strung between a canopy of trees, a man waving to us from his restaurant--his only voice the smile on his face, a gesture with hands. The old crumbling walls of the citadel, a red flag with a proud gold star waving against piles of white clouds, a pagoda with eaves like bird's wings. People squatting on the sidewalk or on miniature red chairs in the morning, gathered together around glass cups of golden tea and sugarcane juice. Sun-dappled leaves sliding against my helmet, the wind plucking at my sleeves. The noisy hum of the marketplace, the tiny corners covered with people and merchandise, women waving their hands at us, apologetic smiles and nods. The flash of a camera. A pile of leaves and trash burning in the night, a pillow of gray smoke filtering through the air. Squabbling over a restaurant bill. Laughing and poking fun at each other on a crowded morning bus ride to a school by a hillside graveyard. Woven reed sampans bobbing in the canal, framed by an arching bridge on which men and women zipped by on bikes. Stray dogs sniffing a lone bicycle wheel, lifting a leg. A trail of ants reclaiming a dead cockroach. A bridge at night, reflected in purple, blue, white, yellow, on the mirror calm surface of the river. A man dragging a bike with a stereo recording: fresh pork buns, banh bao. Tiny birds flitting in cages, birdsong like the call of a bamboo flute. The giggle of a baby boy, the excited chatter of a little girl. A bodhi tree with gnarled roots, lit up at night by white lanterns. The song of guitar strings, strummed to murmured singing.
Hue, and so much more.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cám ơn

First of all, I want to send my special thanks to Mr. Biggs and Ms Hong Anh for bringing us a chance to know and understand each others. We- both US and VN students- are really good friends. You are very considerate towards all of us.

Thank Dennis for your first talking with me. You are an awesome man and always understand me. I've not eaten your chocolate yet.... Thank you.

Angie, you're sooooo crazy and cool girl. Haha. You know, people think you are so strange in the first look. But I'm sure they will regret after that, because you are extremely warm. Thank you so much Angie. See you next summer.

Hey Sonny, thank you for teaching me a lot of badddddd things. You are so funny. I like the way you joke people. I can't imitate.

Thank Charles for teaching me the "bad word ever". You always wanted me to practice in any situation. You are well-done in guitar. Thank you for the pills, black mask and the Okinawa ribbon. When I wear both of mask and ribbon, I look like a dying H1N1 patient. Sorry man. I couldn't go to the DVD shop with you.

Kitty, thank you for the big hug. You're amazing. I dont like Kitty cat because it's fragile and just for the girls. Haha. Just kidding.

Hey Chris, I really like your laugh-out-loud. You are 35 years old? What? Wait wait. It's time to find the real happiness.

Katrina, your Vietnamese are good. You are a so friendly girl.

Hey Albert, I want to express my apology to you because although I were your partner, I could not do anything for you, could not help you to finish your work. You are a good student. Hope the best for you.

Amanda, your Hue accent is so surprised. I like hearing your voice. You are a cute girl in the group. How was the Kings Cup you drank when you took the last King?

Thank Jeanie for the good things. I know that word is really bad. I know how to use it.

Thank Sharon for your amicability. You are so nice and always smile. I really like your presentation.

Jan, you are a really good dancer. Try to practice more the "Nobody" dance moves.

Tom, I dont have too much time to talk with you but I know you are a good guy because you rarely hanged out with us. Hehe.

Hey Johnny, I felt sorry for you because you were the person who had to drink the "Kings Cup" punished beer? Try to achieve what you wish.

Thank you all,

Take care.

Hieu Le (bad guy from Hue College of Foreign Languages)


I just want to thank everyone for , allowing me the oppurtunity, within these last (short) 5 weeks, to befriend and trust every single one of you;

Charles, for being such a great friend in such a short period of time...I am gonna miss you dude, good luck in Okinawa! Good times we had dude...
Angie, with your smile and care for everyone (especially me:-), I grew to love you more and more everyday (although it was hard, because of the fighting throughout the trip)!...

Dennis, for being like an older brother to Charles and I, and for being such a selfless you too dude!
Katrina, for being our rock, friend, and translator; you're beautiful girl!...Love you girl!
Chris, for being the 35 year old man trapped in a 20 year old kids body...
Xuan (Sorry if i mispelled it), for being our den mother and our emotional support...
Amanda, for ALWAYS smiling and being a great friend and person...NEVER CHANGE...
Albert, who was an anchor to all of the little groups we formed throughout this trip...
Jan, for being our professional photographer and one of the most genuinely honest people I've ever met...
Jeanie, for being someone who always was there for me...
Tom, for being the dude who was missing all of the time (you are a great dude!)...
Sharon, for ALWAYS SMILING and keeping me in a good mood all of the time we were around...
Julian, for being the ECONOMIST (we will smoke one day!)...
AND Johnny, for trusting me with stories that touched my heart, you grew a lot throughout this trip, and I am proud of you...

I also want to thank Dr. Biggs, Co Hom Ang (SORRY IF I MISPELLED IT!!!) and your beautiful children (don't want to attempt to spell their names, because i will butcher them)...I appreciate you letting us in your family for the 5 weeks we were here, if there were more people like you guys in the world it would surely be a better place...

As for me, introspection and retrospection await me in Malaysia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines...

This trip had a profound influence on this surfer/gamer guy from Southern California...All of you have a special place in my heart. The experiences we shared are ones that will be with my forever...

until we meet again,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

make the effort to stay in touch

Is there anything else that needs to be said besides that?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I am desperate for some FAT!

During this whole program, I have been upset with one thing. I CANNOT SEEM TO GAIN ANY WEIGHT! Before I came to Vietnam, my mother told me to eat a lot because I was too skinny. I told her do not worry because food is cheap and I will eat large portions. I did. But I still look skinny. Co Anh said that the food in Vietnam and especially Hue have barley any fat and low on carbs. Maybe that's why. But still, whenever I see people who cannot finish their foods, I offer my stomach to finish the rest. People are more than happy to see me devour their foods. Is it just me or is it the food?! Hopefully my problem will be solved once I land in Ca Mau, where I will stay for the rest of my journey in Vietnam.