Friday, May 12, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I am so happy to be home! Catching up with my Chapel Hill friends has been nothing short of spectacular, although since they've celebrated graduation for the last few months, this past weekend may not qualify as spectacular for them. For me, however, it was wonderful. Follies on Thursday entertained everyone for a few hours. Although, I was a complete jet lag loser and went to bed at 10:00. I heart my bed.
Friday night led to the "Everybody Loves Bacon" party, honoring DB and yours truly. The title comes from the bbq dinner and the last name of the honorary attendant. The party was wonderful, however, everyone was dragging a bit from the follies festivities.
Everyone's energy returned on Saturday with a little cooking expedition by me and my STs. SO good to see them! I made my first Tom Yum soup, ala Thai vacation. I'm still honing my spicing techniques. I could kill someone with the amount of chilis I put in Saturday's soup.
Here's my taxing schedule for the next few days (pre-Wrightsville vaca):
- Find a place to live - half done since I am going to rent an apartment at this awesome complex in downtown Raleigh. Think 5th and Poplar, but not quite that nice.
- Buy clothes for graduation and beach week - coming along bit by bit
- Hire movers
How on earth will I survive? Kids, I highly recommend B school. It's a great gig if you can get it! Keeping it is the problem. Someone always wants their money back eventually.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
April 25th, 2006
Of all the things that I expected to feel today, sadness was not one of them. I guess I thought I would be so excited to go home and to see everyone that I wouldn’t even mind my trip ending. In reality, I’m very sad about this phase of my life drawing to a close. It didn’t hit me until I walked through the gates to customs and approached the Hong Kong Resident’s line for the last time. I almost burst into tears in front of the customs guy. So sad. I managed to make it to the security gates before I teared up. I’m not really a crier, so this kind of shocked me.
I feel strange because I’m sad about leaving, but so excited for the summer.
I’ve thought a bit about what I would classify as the best part of my life so far. It’s not an easy question, and honestly, I don’t think it has an answer. While junior high school and senior high school brought me Stephanie and Amber, college brought me… well, that period certainly isn’t going to win, so I won’t even bother with that one. My time in
Ok, I am the biggest sap that I know. I’m writing this in the Hong Kong airport and listening to
I know that parts of this trip sucked, but it changed me forever. The end was nothing like the middle in that I found a home with friends and getting through the tough part in the middle taught me so much about what I can accomplish and who I really am. I wanted to back down so many times and something wouldn’t let me. I knew I would regret it, and as much as I wanted to take the easy route, I knew I didn’t belong on that path. I think that making a success out of the second term of my stay showed me that I am the only person setting any limitations on my life. I know, that sounds cheesy and entirely too philosophical, but it’s true and I promised to write the truth. Sometimes I feel a bit exposed when I write such things.
I’ve never run a marathon, but I would imagine that running across the finish line must feel a bit like how I feel today. I’m so proud of my accomplishment, I’ve enjoyed the journey, I’m happy to never relive the painful parts, and I’m sad to see it end. I don’t think either I or the marathon runner is sad to see the finish line, but more sad about the end of the journey to get to the finish, anxious about starting a new race, and concerned that the new race won’t quite live up to the current race. I look forward to meeting my new running partners, whoever they may be!
Monday, April 24, 2006
April 24, 2006
I never did like that song very much. However, it is time to head home! I think the blog will likely end here, although it may pick up in some format while I am in
I really can’t wait to see everyone! This has been an unbelievable journey, but it’s always good to go home.
P.S. I just finished my last MBA paper and exam today. I’m going to treat myself to dessert and coffee for now, but I will treat myself to a true celebration on Thursday and Friday night. EVERYBODY loves BACON!
April 19th, 2006
I’m done with
Even after rushing through
We enjoyed Japanese Tapas for dinner, although they certainly don’t call them that. Dinner was excellent and the wine was greatly improved over the previous night. We went back to our hole in the wall, 6 seat, pub and met a crazy Hawaiian guy named Chris. He read us the poetry he wrote in the previous bar. I really liked one of his lines, though. It was about unsuspecting promises – I take it to mean that you expect certain things to happen, but you never know exactly what those things will be or how they will happen. In my case, reality exceeds anything I could have suspected independently.
The trip back to HK was uneventful, but it required two taxis, two trains, one airplane, one bus. I’m not sure when that level of complicated travel stopped intimidating me, but I ain’t scared!
April 18th, 2006
This might be one of my favorite days of the trip. Well, the first part anyway. We started the day with a train to
April 17th, 2006
Today we headed to
We succeeded in that we spotted one on her way to an engagement and another on her way from a convenience store. We enjoyed suki-yaki for dinner, which is basically grilled food that is dipped in raw egg before being eaten. It was delicious! We ended the night with a drink at Hub, which is another Western bar. I want to get into the Japanese culture, but they don’t want me there, so I’m having some trouble.
This actually happened on the night of the 16th, but I feel
Our first full day in
I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of very cute boys in the lobby of my hostel on the way back. Wouldn’t you know it - they were German! I temporarily decided to life my ban on flirting with German boys due to their adorability. Sometimes you just have to accept your affliction and hope that it does not always end poorly.
IT and I grabbed sushi for dinner and talked to the self-proclaimed sushi papa. He’s not fond of Americans, but he’ll take our money just the same. He didn’t say it, but he didn’t have to! After walking around Gion trying to get into several bars, we finally spotted an Irish pub. They couldn’t deny me from there, right? Well, thankfully they did not and we spent some time hanging out with the other Westerners. Our last stop of the night was back in downtown where we met more Westerners and a cutie from
April 14th – 15th, 2006
Thankfully we slept in on the 14th. Even though the girls went back at the early hour of 3 am, we were still exhausted. NT and I opted for a lunch of soba noodles rather than eating at a Western Restaurant. Where ARE we people?!? Thankfully, NT is an adventurous eater and doesn’t feel the obligations that some others feel. We dropped by an arcade in the afternoon and took some funny photos. Dinner was really the interesting part of the day.
We went to Ninja Times, which is a theme restaurant where the waiter is a real-life Ninja. OK, so yes, it was completely cheesy, but it was a blast! The food was excellent. I especially enjoyed the Escargot (4) (my first time) and frog shaped cheesecake. I could have left the lobster tofu off (2), but I’m not sure anyone really enjoys tofu. We then headed back to the hotel to change and enjoy a trip to the vending machine bar in our lobby. We headed to Rappongi that night to experience the real
Our last day in
April 12 – 13th, 2006
Our second day picked up a bit, but let me tell you how difficult it can be to move with a crowd of 6 people. Exhausting. We started out at the famous Tsukji Fish Market, where we enjoyed a breakfast of the freshest sushi possible. The area is basically chaos and I think they aim to run over whiteys like me with their forklifts. Don’t worry, I’m quick on my feet when necessary. We then walked around a park and stopped for a traditional tea ceremony. I prefer Chinese tea and will never eat the sweet whatever that they serve with Japanese tea. It’s just gross. Beans are not supposed to be sweet, people! I don’t care what you put around it, I do not want beans for dessert. Ever.
We walked around a temple, which IT named the biggest red light district ever and then eenjoyed a lunch of traditional Shabu Shabu – excellent. We then ventured over to a park where we rode kiddie rides for a while. I really am regressing. My first proper meal in
Friday, April 21, 2006
The second casualty is my lap top power cord. I have to fidget with the damn thing for at least two minutes everytime I plug it in and it is making a strange hissing noise. The hissing noise stops when I put my finger over its orgination point. You think that might be a fire hazzard? Well, I can get a free one at school, so there's not a chance that I am buying one here. Dear God, PLEASE let it keep working until Monday afternoon. That is all I ask.
The third and fourth casualties are my brown and black boots. Truth be told, they were meant to die a long time ago and I really extended their agony for several months longer than necessary. I couldn't have been happier to throw the worn out old tatters away, so this one isn't really a complaint.
The fourth casualty is my hair dryer. It still works, mind you. Unfortunately, it only works for a short time until the hair stuck inside of it (that it continuously pulls out of my head) starts to burn which overheats it. Seriously, do you think 4 months is a long product life? I could probably make one that would last for a good 6 months on my own. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating.
I almost forgot the worst tragedy of all - my SUNGLASSES! I took extremely good care of this pair of sunglasses so their explosion at a Temple in Kyoto is simply undeserved.
Well, my crumpled mess of broken products and tattered clothes will arrive on American soil on the 26th. Yippie!!!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
On a totally random note - if anyone is looking for a good song about girls with green eyes, I highly recommend Green Eyes by Cold Play. I think Chris Martin wrote it just for yours truly. Ok, so maybe I justwish that he wrote it for me!
A funny sign for you: (I took this picture myself, so I promise it is real.)
Monday, April 10, 2006
Sunday, April 09, 2006
April 9, 2006
Fortunately, I don’t stay in a bad mood for very long. I spent most of yesterday hiding out in my room far away from anything that could annoy me and by 7:30, I was feeling much more civil. On the walk to the train, it occurred to me that I am actually only in
Booking my return ticket caused me to reflect a bit on this experience. I’m sure I will reflect much more as the time gets closer. I think I’ll look at it from the perspective of what I would repeat and what I would avoid today. I foresee a lessons learned report coming along in the future, but I’d like to learn all of the lessons first.
Brilliant Decisions (if I do say so myself)
- Coming to
Hong Kongfor exchange
- Experiencing this craziness with two wonderful friends
- Traveling to
Australia, Thailand, Beijing, Fiji, Vietnam, Shanghai, and (assuming the trip goes well, of course) Japan
- Dating my FGL
- Staying in
Hong Kongfor an extended term
- Building friendships with people from around the world. I can say I have friends in
Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Pittsburgh, another TBD U.S. city, and Hong Kong
- Forcing myself to stay and face my fears
Less than Brilliant Decisions (some of these I would repeat)
- Living off campus with my STs. I would do this again because I loved every minute of it, although it did make my transition more difficult for the second term. I think I needed to go through that extra challenge.
- Not opting for a longer exchange at the beginning of the process so that I could have rented my apartment in
Chapel Hillout. Do you know how many cute outfits I could have purchased with $3200 USD? Oh well, how could I have known, right?
- Not extending myself to the other exchange students earlier in the process. I didn’t know what I was missing, honestly.
- Spending so much time with my FGL. I would have still dated him, but maybe on a more casual level. I guess I’m just not a casual dating kind of girl
What was I thinking?
- My pity party on the way to and from
. Let’s be honest, I threw it for two more days once I was back. Thankfully, I took a break from it for most of my time in Fiji . As a friend put it, I had white people problems. How could I possibly have fun living as a student in Fiji Hong Kongfor an extra six weeks? I do see the silliness of it – I just didn’t see it at the time so much.
- Rather than dating one boy in
Hong Kong, I should have dated boys from as many countries as possible. This trip is about cultural exposure, right?
- Not staying in better touch with my friends at home. I’ve tried to stay in touch via email, but I really feel like I have no clue what is going on in anyone’s lives. I promise not to be so self-centered when I get home.
- There is a rumor that HS is canceling one of our stupid class projects. This means I just have to pass two tests and I’m free and clear!
- Presumptuous German Boy from Friday night apologized for his behavior. At least I don’t have to remember him as such a jerk!
- In an EXCELLENT turn of events, I am going to live with Cowboy for the first three weeks in June. Get ready for lunch and happy hour, kids. I will need entertaining!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
April 8, 2006
Let's talk about yesterday. The day started out wonderfully with me getting a haircut and highlights. I also snuck in a mani and pedi, which took a bit longer than expected. I was running late for the end of term party with the exchange students from other programs (mostly undergrads). I rushed home and made it only slightly late. Lucky for me, I was seated next to a very cute boy. The day seems to be going well. I could use a few hours of flirting. Oh, if only I knew what the rest of the night held:
First sign that something is amiss – The cute boy is German, which violates my no Germans rule. I overlooked this, however, because he was quite cute and about 6’8” tall.
Second sign – He was supposed to go with his friends, but instead decided to follow me and my friends to LKF. His friends would meet up with him later. This shouldn’t be such a bad thing, and could even be a good thing if he didn’t keep staring at me like he was going to rip my clothes off.
Third sign – He constantly stands between my friends and me and completely monopolizes my attention. I couldn’t even move without this guys hands all over me. I was definitely flirting with him, but he was over the top. Why I didn’t walk away at this point, I don’t know.
Fourth sign – Dancing at Lux – again, he is completely over the top with his affection and I’m really feeling uncomfortable at this point. Flirting with a cute boy is one thing, but feeling like I’m in high school fighting off some 16 year old guy is entirely something else. At this point, I’m distancing myself, but he’s not making it easy. I am entirely too old for this.
Final sign – He asks me to go home with him. I immediately decline and tell him that I enjoyed meeting him and I hope he enjoys the rest of his exchange. He then flips out and says, “its not like I was asking you to have sex or something. If you want to, then we can, but we don’t have to.” At this point, I freak out and decide it is time to go home. Either with my friends or without.
Fortunately, two of my guy friends decided to leave with me. I spend a lot of time with guys here, so while the earlier situation was creepy, I wasn’t worried about my safety at all. But, the night doesn’t end there. If only I was that lucky!
Right now, I just want everyone to leave me alone!
April 8, 2006
Let me tell you what I heart. I heart honesty. I heart morals. I heart contributors.
Let me tell you what I do NOT heart. I do NOT heart cheaters. I do NOT heart plagerizers. I do NOT heart laziness. Finally, I do NOT heart complete stupidity.
Guys, I am at an absolute breaking point with one of my teams. I would love to call one of you to throw a tantrum over this, but it’s almost 11:00 your time, so I don’t think you would appreciate it. For that matter, it’s Friday night your time so you’re probably not even home.
I know that my school in
Thursday, April 06, 2006
April 2, 2006
I started Sunday off like I would like to start every Sunday, or every day for that matter – at Starbucks. I know that many people think of Starbucks as the McDonald’s of coffee houses, but quite honestly, I heart it. You might already know that, though.
After breakfast, FG and I headed over to Yuyaan Bazaar to do a little shopping. I am collecting the booties that Chinese women were forced to wear as children to bind their feet. Normally you can find these at any antique shop in the area, but not today. Fortunately, one of the
Remember how I said boys like trains? Well, FG was incredibly excited about taking the Malgev train from
So, I said goodbye to Mainland
After a brief stop-over back in Hong Kong, I’m off to
Then folks, I begin my James Taylor impersonation. I played “Going to
April 1, 2006
I apologize for not always including the best photos. I have a rule against blogging about people who don't know that I'm blogging about them, or who aren't familiar with some portion of the people who may read the blog. So, if sometimes I seem to be leaving things out, I am doing it out of respect for the unknowing. Back to the blog...
I love finding cool stuff outside of a major city. I believe firmly that if you stick inside of a city the entire time, you miss so much of the area that you are visiting. The rest of the exchange students don’t arrive in Shanghai until later on Saturday afternoon, so (thanks to the best concierge ever at the Peace Hotel), FG and I took off for Zhouzhuang which is a water town. A water town is a town built around canals. I have a video to share if you’re interested. I should also mention why I keep bringing up the Peace Hotel. Remember my evil professor from Doing Business in
Back to Zhouzhuang. The ride out there was a bit touch and go since I my stomach doesn’t really like swerving buses. Once there though, the trip was wonderful. We walked through the town and the shops to where we loaded onto long boats and drifted through the canals of the city. I probably shouldn’t say drifted since the guy in the back was working really hard to make us drift. Some of the ladies sang as they crewed their boats. It was so nice. I wish we could have stopped to do a little shopping, but that wasn’t on the tour guide’s agenda. I miss Huong from
We enjoyed a traditional Chinese lunch of whole fish, peking duck, and… hold the presses…. Vegetables! Someone probably got fired for letting a vegetable hit a table in
After lunch we headed to some famous gardens. That was fun for about two minutes. Then, I came up with my quote. “It’s not that the Chinese are too fast, or even that they are too slow, but they are ALWAYS in my way.” I know, it’s probably not a very culturally aware thing to say. However, I speak only truth.
I am being a bit hard on the gardens. They were very pretty. It’s just kind of like a temple. Once you’ve seen it, there’s not much else to see - especially not if people keep stepping on your toes and walking directly in front of you. They were pretty, though.
On the way back, we got suckered into going to silk factory. Do you know how they make silk? Well, I’ll tell ya... the poor little silk worm works his butt off growing for 25 days. He builds up all of this protein inside of him and then he spits it out as a cocoon so that he can become a moth or something. The poor guy just wants to fly. Little does he know, that those people who keep feeding him are then going to stick his new home that he worked so hard to build into an oven and kill him. Then, they boil his house (with him still inside) and unravel all of his hard work. All of this so that we can have nice silk things. Don’t worry though, he doesn’t die in vain. Once they finish destroying his house, they pull him out of the last little section around him and throw him in a bowl. Then, they cook him in a soup for pregnant ladies. I promise I’m not kidding. Fear Factor has nothing on
Later on Saturday, the rest of the gang joined us. Until now, there were two of us, but we added 6 more this evening. Nothing too crazy to tell other than my classmates (who were in
On yeah, we stopped for street meat at the end of the night. I fed six of us for $2 USD. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went back the next day.
March 30, 2006
What a busy day! After breakfast in our rather crap hotel (I am quite spoiled sometimes), FG and I left for the Bund. A precious little homeless girl followed us around for a good five minutes, which was sad. Especially since her Mom followed a few steps behind. I guess that is better than letting her walk along alone, but it’s not better by a lot. Maybe they really don’t have alternatives though. I guess I haven’t really put much thought into what it would be like to be incredibly poor in a communist country – especially
After walking around the Bund (which is a historic area along the river), we decided to go through the tourist tunnel to Padong (aka Batmanville). No, Batman wasn’t filmed there, it’s just what comes to my mind. Well, the Tourist Tunnel is certainly aptly named. Think of Willy Wonka’s elevator, only this one travels horizontally and goes under a river. The path is filled with a big fancy light show. It’s cheesier than I can describe, but I still liked it. It’s just one of those things you have to do.
Sometimes traveling with boys means you get to do things that you might not ordinarily rank highly on your list of things to see and do. For me, that was going into the TV Tower. It’s the 3rd largest Tower in the World. FG really wanted to get tickets up to the top. I had already figured out that I would get the same view while having drinks at the Grand Hyatt next door, but boys like tall buildings and fast trains. The second will come up again later.
After a brief walk around the French Concession, which isn’t particularly interesting or French for that matter, FG and I headed to People’s Square which is the city center. This is where I think I was swindled, but I really enjoyed it, so I can’t really complain. FG and I were approached by three Chinese people who wanted to practice their English with us. That isn’t uncommon. They then invited us to join them for tea. We did join them and we had a very nice time. We took some fun photos, tried some interesting teas. It ended up being more expensive than I expected and I heard later that this is a bit of a con game. The people who bring you in get a cut of the purchase basically. Whatever. I enjoyed it and I prefer to remember it that way rather than taint it with a con.
After tea, it was time to head back to the less than Magnificent “Magnificent International.” My bed was comfy, but since I live on an extra long twin most nights, I’m really pretty easy to please when it comes to bedding at the moment.
But, I’m not off to bed yet. FG and I went for drinks at a place on one side of the River, then headed over to dinner at M on the Bund. Dinner was nice. I enjoyed a Bellini and a Tropical Champagne cocktail in honor of Kath. Kath, you would have complained about the
March 29, 2006
So, I’m back in
I traveled to
Not much to tell on the first night other than we ended up at a German bar and listening to what might be the worst Asian cover band ever. What they lack in talent, they certainly make up for in enthusiasm. If only I had video taped their version of Love Shack! Here's a tidbit, although the quality is a bit crap.
Oh yeah, some woman basically sat in my lap. I'm not sure why, but I was very uncomfortable and I nearly had to knock her over with my knee to get her to move. Creepy.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
April 6, 2006
I apologize in advance, but this is going to be another total rant on my classes. This one is on Decision Making with Computer, which in no way involves the use of a computer. In fact, that would be helpful and would assist me in my future career. Instead, I am staring at a board with something called the f-ing Simplex Method. It’s the most complex freaking process I’ve ever seen and since the professor thinks it’s simple, he’s talking to the rest of us like complete idiots. The functions don’t even relate to real-life situations, so I can’t imagine how I am supposed to use any of this in the future. I HATE it.
For those who know excel pretty well, we are learning how to run the algorithm that Excel runs in the Solver program. We are learning to do this on PAPER using the stupid Simplex method. It involves about 100 iterations of 8th grade algebra and a bunch of steps that make no sense, but you just do it. This is a complete waste of two things. First, my tuition dollars are entirely wasted on this as I don’t understand it now and I certainly won’t retain whatever I begin to understand. Second, even attempting to understand such calculations is a complete waste of time since I’m pretty damn sure that every computer in the world that can run excel is not going to shut down simultaneously. If that happens, I’ll have bigger issues to worry about that the f-ing Simplex method. If you read on the news about a silly American tossing her entire computer at a professor in
Anyway, the video is wonderful!
Monday, April 03, 2006
An update on Shanghai will follow, but not tonight....
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Thai Boxing with Meg and Kevin (Bangkok)
My hut in Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Just listen to the fear in my voice!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
March 26th, 2006
Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly situations can turn around. One minute you feel like someone threw you on the ground and stomped on your head, and the next minute you feel like everything in the world is absolutely lovely and perfect. I really started feeling better about being in Hong Kong a little over a week ago, but going to
The return flight was also wonderful. I sat next to an awesome American guy – who lives in
Not much else to report about on Sunday as I have to focus on schoolwork on Sunday – Wednesday so that I can travel on Thursday – Sunday. My classes are much more difficult this mod. I am supposed to coast along like my friends at home, but I don’t get that option. I’m not really complaining, though, because last mod was an insult to my intelligence. HS (The evil German Prof) seems to think that my life purpose is to prepare for his class and that his life purpose is to torture students like me while demeaning them at every possible opportunity. Unless he really pisses me off, he will not make this journal again. He doesn’t deserve the air time. He does remind me of my 7th and 8th grade English teacher. I couldn’t stand him either.
I want to preface this entire post by saying that one of my first thoughts this morning was that I’ve never been a celebrity and that it must be a cool experience. I don’t know where I come up with this stuff, but my head is full of such silly thoughts.
I arranged to tour the Mekong Delta through my hotel. I heart concierge. The tour group was small, with only three other people on the tour. Interestingly enough, one guy is Japanese, but lives in
Our first stop was at a coconut candy manufacturer. More accurately, four people make coconut candy in a hut by the river. The candy was delicious and the people were wonderful. We then moved on to the honey factory, where maybe 6 people work (also in a hut). They served us honey tea (excellent), which included added pollen. Glad I’m not allergic. The guide let us hold the bees, which I don’t plan to do again. Why tempt them? Next, we listened to a local band who sang, “If you’re Happy and you Know it,” in Vietnamese. We then headed back to the boat via a village canal. I think my favorite part was that they asked us to wear the traditional Vietnamese hat. So cute. I kind of wish I was allowed to row the boat, but they don’t let whitey do such things. We enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese lunch at our final stop and then headed back to
Everything up to this point was super interesting and thoroughly entertaining, but I could never have imagined what was to happen next. I called my tour guide from the previous day because she invited me to go out to dinner that night. She is wonderful. She’s 30 years old, single, and the oldest of three kids. Sound like anyone you know? We immediately hit it off on our trip the day before, so I was thrilled to spend the evening with such a cool person. She picked me up on her motor bike and took me to her house to meet her family. I was prepared for this and really excited about it. What I didn’t know is that she lives with her Aunt and a bunch of other people who were absolutely thrilled to meet me. Her Aunt was so thrilled that she asked if I would like to join them for dinner rather than going out! How could I refuse a real home-cooked Vietnamese dinner? I don’t have any pictures of our dinner because I didn’t want to make this a tourist moment. These people treated me as a friend, not a visitor. They totally rolled out the red carpet by constantly serving me fresh fruit and tea. They even created a special avocado drink for me with avocado, milk, and sugar. It was wonderful. Dinner was also wonderful, but I didn’t dare to ask what I was eating. I think it was sausage, but I can’t be sure. Over the next three hours, Hong introduced me to her Aunt, her cousin, her Aunt’s boyfriend, her brother, and another girl who I didn’t catch how she fit into the family. Hong was the only person who spoke English at a conversational level, so you can imagine what we talked about when Hong left the room. Even without words, Ann (the Aunt) was clearly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I can’t really describe it, but she had the kindest eyes and the most cheerful smile.
After dinner, Ann and Hong wanted to take me to a dance club. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was a little apprehensive (not that I ever let them know that). As it turns out, the dance club is a huge room with rows of seats facing the dance floor. The dancers are all really talented (except for me, of course). The men walk over to the women and ask them to dance. They don’t have to know each other and its not necessarily a pick-up line. Many of the men are older. I couldn’t help but thinking of what they experienced during the war. Within seconds of the music starting, a nice gentleman approached me to dance. I really preferred to sit out for a bit, but I thought that would be rude, so I accepted his offer. I am not a good dancer. Especially not if I have to put my feet in particular places at particular times. Amber = uncoordinated (but you already know that).
Over the next three hours, I got my chance to experience celebrity status. The rules of politeness are that a guy should keep his partner on the dance floor for one dance at a time. He is welcome to ask her to dance again, but he shouldn’t monopolize his partner’s time. Every time that I sat down between songs, someone else was asking me to dance. I probably would have enjoyed this a bit more, but they all wanted to teach me the moves and not only can I not understand their English, I can only hear about 15% of what they are saying. You see my trouble.
After the formal dancing ends, the club turns into a disco. If I was a busy girl up to this point, I’m not sure what you would call me after this point. The most adorable Vietnamese men surrounded me on the dance floor. One was not adorable at all, but I’ll come back to that. When just dancing around didn’t seem interesting enough, they decided to pull me into the middle of the circle and hold a dance-off in my honor. I promise I am not lying! I couldn’t make up something this good. One by one, they walked to the middle of the circle to take their turn dancing with me. Picture me standing in the middle looking completely shocked and not knowing what to do. With the exception of a couple of touchy feely boys, most of the guys were wonderful. The primary exception from this was the guy who I will call Spaz. Spaz danced like his entire body was convulsing. Picture break dancing without laying on the ground. I swear he was on something. Ann and Hong are just taking all of this in, even when Spaz picked me up with both hands and started spinning me around. Ann finally stepped in when Spaz dragged me to the other side of the dance club to do God knows what. I’d venture that he intended to kidnap me, but I’d prefer to not think about such things. We left soon after that because the near kidnapping put a damper on my little stint as a celebrity. I do have a video that I will try to post at some point.
On the way home, Hong decided that I needed to eat since my flight was so early in the morning. She and Ann took me to a Pho stand right by my hotel before dropping me safely off at my hotel. 3:30 came very early the next morning.
March 24th, 2006
So, I just had one of the best experiences of my life. I know, I say that a lot, but I’m actually just really fortunate that my life is so full of surprises. I’m not sure if you can tell from my post about
’m thrilled to tell you that any apprehension that I held about going rapidly dissipated on my arrival in
First, as soon as I walked through customs, a hotel representative met me to cart me to the hotel. I stayed in a five star hotel (for safety purposes, of course). I think if I landed in
elt a bit overwhelmed. The two places are very similar in that the people drive like maniacs and most of the drivers are really moped-ers. I think I just created that word, but I like it.
I slept in a bit late the next morning since I got in so late and because I needed to recuperate from my Tuesday night escapades. I wandered around the city a bit and rode on a cyclo, which is a bicycle driven by an older man. I felt bad for making him drive me around, so I paid a little extra and only made him go a short distance.
My attempt at our self portrait failed miserably. Next, things get really interesting. As it turns out, I can’t just take a cab. Since I am a tourist, a tour guide must accompany me when I’m in a car. Well, sign me up! For $35 USD, I enjoyed a private tour with my own driver. We checked out all of the fun stuff in the city – a market (sick of these), a pagoda (temple),
I am pretty ignorant about the Vietnam war, or most wars for that matter. I should probably find history more intriguing but quite honestly it bores me to tears. My Dad would be so ashamed. However, walking the streets of a city whose past obviously affects every aspect of its present day existence, made me quite curious. The pictures that I saw during my hour in the museum dramatically affected me. The photos were more graphic than anything I’ve ever witnessed (fortunately). The pictures depicted scenes a thousand times worse than anything that came to light in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal. I debated about whether to post one of the pictures. I decided to post it, but if you don't want to see it, don't look too closely.
The picture that sticks with me is an American Soldier carrying half of a Vietnamese soldier while looking at him and smiling. I’m not making a political statement here because I’ve never fought in a war and I am absolutely supportive of the people who risk their lives to keep my pansy-ass safe and free. All I will say is that I was moved by the picture and it made me realize how tragic war is – both for the person doing the killing who is reduced to celebrating another human’s death as well as for the person who died fighting for something he may or may not support. Either way, it’s sad and I pray that my brother (who is in the Army) never faces a situation like the one in the photo. Ok, that is enough of that discussion. Back to the fun.
I went to dinner at Cool Restaurant. I promise that is the name. The food was delicious, but much more expensive ($15) that the 50 cents that I paid for my Pho lunch. I then returned to my king sized bed to rest up for my trip to the Mekong Delta.
Monday, March 27, 2006
I'm going to give this one more shot, but if someone steals my yogurt out of the communal fridge again, its replacement will include a lot of laxatives. I cannot live without my yogurt and granola in the morning. I promise retaliation.
You probably don't care, but I thought you might like to revel in the fact that you only share a refrigerator with your family.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Another random tidbit of info - you can actually play the radio through iTunes. Maybe everyone else already knew this, but I just discovered it. It's a God-send as my dorm room is now All Country, All the Time!
As it turns out, I’m actually quite popular with the expats in the area. Several of us went out for a while last night and I was being tossed around from one expat to another. If they were better dancers, I might have been a bit more flattered. As it was, my toes were crushed a few times and a shorter guy hit me in the head when he was trying to spin me. One guy seemed to be imitating Riverdance, but I don’t think he realized it. I felt like I was dancing with the Swedish Exchange students from last semester all over again!
I am going to Vietnam this weekend. I will be in Ho Chi Minh City this weekend. I’m not sure what I’m going to see, but I want to be able to say that I went to Vietnam, so I’m going. The rest of the exchange students are going to Cambodia, but I can’t miss my Thursday class, so I’m off on my own this weekend. Don’t worry though, I think Vietnam is pretty safe. I’m only really worried about thieves. I just don’t want them to get my passport so that I can’t get out of there! I’m a little concerned about the kids touching me too. My book says that they dare each other to touch whiteys. I can tell you already that I am not a fan of anything close to strangers coming in contact with my skin. Especially not if their goal is to steal things from me.
One last comment about Germans – I think they are the only Europeans that visit Hong Kong. The Brits may have ruled HK, but the Germans have certainly taken over. I think God is just having a good laugh at my expense.
I am very happy to report that I am making fantastic improvements on my attitude about being in HK right now. First, I feel so much more comfortable with the other exchange students. Everyone is very nice and absolutely fascinating. They come from such different places, but we're all quite similar in some way. I especially get along with the Texas guys. I think our schools attract very similar students.
I’m also getting much more comfortable hanging out on my own. I'm not much fun to talk to, but I never have to get agreement on anything either. I honestly don't have much free time right now because school is so freaking busy. Don't they know I am graduating and should be coasting right now?
Things are much less strained between my FGL and me and I don’t see him as much as I thought I would. As it turns out, he is so busy with school that he spends all of his time studying and meeting with study groups. First years!!!