Friday, November 23, 2007

Getting Antsy

I am starting to get very impatient with my wait for Thailand. I shuffle to work everyday and teach classes I have grown to hate, just biding my time until we leave for Thailand. 30 glorious days with no work, I begin shaking all over in anticipation at the mere mention of it. I had a conversation with Karen last night about teaching. I made an offhand remark about how much I hate it. She responded with " See I told you it would get to you after a while" or something like that, and then I clarified my statement a little further. Teaching is the best job I have ever had, I just hate anything I have to do for someone else, regardless of how rewarding or pleasant I may find it. I will only ever be truly satisfied working for myself. It actually physically disturbs me to make money for other people. Maybe I will open my own school and then I would immediately love teaching again.
The only thing getting me through these classes is closing my eyes and thinking about the beaches of Phuket and how much I am going to love spending my days on the beach with a good book, soaking up the sunshine and taking dips in the cool green waters. Ice cold Singha resting on my chest as I sway from the ocean breeze in a ratty old hammock, the only worry on my mind being how long the hammock will actually support my weight, before crashing down into the sand below.
Seventeen more sleeps people. Seventeen more sleeps.
Bye for now,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday afternoon blabberings

I’m sitting in a cafĂ© right now writing on my laptop and enjoying the warm mid-November weather in Hanoi. The windows are all open to the busy street noise of Hoan Kiem District’s Cathedral square and a throng of school children are playing noisily in the parking lot of St. Josephs Cathedral. It is Quarter past five and the traffic and constant honking of motorbikes and taxi’s is barely perceptible to me now after fourteen months in Hanoi.
I have never felt about anything the way I feel about Hanoi. I hate it so much some days that I want to explode venom and fury over all who surround me like Chuck Norris in “Braddock- Missing in Action part 1” Then there are days like today, where the simple beauty of this confounded place is almost more than I can stand. Things are very simple here, and I know no matter how I feel about this place on any given day, I will miss it for the rest of my life when I leave.
Taiwan was also a beautiful place full of wonder and excitement, but it didn’t hold a candle to Hanoi for the sheer mystique and comfortable confusion that is offered by Hanoi. It is so loud that it is like a frantic emotion that blankets the whole place. The people scream and yell in to their cell phones and at each other on the street, not out of anger but because that is just how it is here. The constant horn blasting by every vehicle on the road in the maddening irony of the uselessness of the horn, by way of it’s intended purpose, being used in this manner.
The people, so brash, rude and abrasive, yet in a completely innocent way, simply don’t know any better or are incapable of behaving any other way. They are so childlike in their comments and exclaimed noises as a big Westerner walks by, so annoying to me before, simply makes me smile now. Vietnam is their country and I am just a visitor here. These people in the North have sweat, bled, died and suffered for their beloved homeland. They fought off the American invasion in the 60’s and 70’s and claimed somewhat of a victory over the most powerful country in the world. This empty victory left them in a state of such destruction and absolute poverty that they would spend the next thirty years trying to recover. Now that they are just finally starting to stand on their own feet after the American War, as they call it, are submitting of their own free will to the force of the West on what they believe to be their terms.
To be here in Hanoi as they celebrate the 1000 anniversary of this city is truly something to behold and experience. The students that I teach are hungry for education outside of the system in Vietnam that spends the first two years of their university education focusing on Marxist and Leninist philosophy. I can see the change the future holds for Vietnam in their faces and wish I could be here to see it happen. But, I will leave before anything really significant happens here, looking on fondly from wherever I find myself, at this place that I will always consider a second home. I must say that living in Vietnam right now feels like truly living, and not just wiling away the days in the comfort of my Nova Scotia, succumbing to age and indifference. These are truly the days that I will look back upon from behind the cloudy eyes of an old man, and remember the time in my life when I felt the most alive.
I always had a distaste for the people that find religion or spiritual guidance in any form and then try and force it upon other people as though it would be as beneficial for all as it was for them. I would just like to say to anyone still reading this, that if you have not done it yet, get out of your home and move around this planet a little. Stretch your legs and experience something brand new. It will change you to your very core. I miss my friends and family more than I can adequately express here on this blog, but I feel like I belong here, right now. I have my good days and bad days in this country and today is definitely a good day. I will always be grateful to Hanoi for what it has done to change me.

Sorry if I got a little spirited, I am a little drunk. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My First Vietnamese Wedding

Unfortunately Karen could not get out of work, but I was able to attend my first ever Vietnamese wedding. The lovely Hai Yen was to be married to Ngoc Hoang on Monday, Oct 05 at 9am. Hai Yen was a Student Services employee of Cleverlearn who Karen and I had both worked with over the past year. The location was Thai Binh villiage about 100km's outside of Hanoi city. I left my house at 5:30am and made my way to work where there was a small bus waiting to take us all to the wedding. My small group consisted of Western teachers, Bret, Kate & Andrew and myself along with Beverly our Phillipino Acedemic Head and of course Chi our interpreter and guide. (Also an SS employee)
I will start by saying 100km's in Vietnam is not like 100km's in Canada. The road was so rough and bumpy it was like travelling in a stagecoach. It took us almost three hours to reach the little villiage and my internal organs were shaken not stirred.
The wedding began at an unthinkable 9am with a banquet and copious amounts of beer and Vietnamese rice whiskey bing knocked back by most. As the only westerners in the visinity we were a odd and curious sight to behold for most of the guests. I felt a little guilty about stealing some of the spotlight away from the dashing couple as we were certainly the center of attention frequently throughout the wedding.
With my stomach full and my head spinning from the rice whiskey, we observed a simple ceremony involving the exchange of rings and a few songs provided by guests. The wedding was finished as abruptly as it had started and to my utmost shock and surprise I found myself pushed in to the reception line and spent 10 minutes shaking hands with strangers, directly beside the bride and groom. With that task finished I found myself back in the van to endure the bumpy ride back to Hanoi with a stomach full of food and whiskey, to become upset by the horrific road conditions.
All and all it was a fantastic morning, and I wish Yen and Hoang the best of fortune in all of thier future endeavors.

Stay tuned for a video of the wedding to be posted within the week.