Good Morning Viet Nam

Sunday, December 26, 2004

No Worries! I'm Alive

Morning! Just wanted to let you all know that your favorite English teacher is alive and was not affected in the least by the tidal wave, fortunately. Had a smooth flight to Ko Samui this morning and have been chilling on the beach all afternoon. Just woke up from a nap on the beach and am off to get a massage. Tonight we are going to a full moon party on another island. We were planning on going to Krabi, close to Phuket, for a New Years party but will most likely rethink that seeing how water came up to the 4th floor of buildings there. In Phuket, we heard a bridge connecting the island to the mainland, was taken out and right now the death toll is up to 700. Don't know if this story is getting too much coverage over there, but the reading on the Richter scale was 8. something. So yes, I am very very very thankful to be alive this holiday season. Enjoy your new toys! Ciao.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Thailand

Merry Merry one and all! Hope everyone is enjoying the egg nog and football! Just wanted to let you all know that I am thoroughly digging Bangkok. Such a refreshing change of pace to Vietnam. Don't think I will be returning anytime soon. Love it there, but love my freedom more. Talk about complete 180. Thank God. For a minute, thought I might be home a hell of a lot sooner than I had planned. Lots of good memories and friends, and that is all one can ask for. So off to the beach tomorrow. Can't wait. Then after New Years plan on travelling up north to Chiang Mai and Pai and maybe I'll even be inspired to look for a job. Keep those fingers crossed! Bangkok is great, but don't really think the big city scene, anywhere, is really my scene. But stay tuned. Who knows, maybe in 2005 I will actually have a temporary-permanent address! Here's hoping. Hope you all are well and are enjoying the warmth of your cozy sweaters! I'll be thinking of you as the perspiration beads appear on my upper lip and I reach for my beer to cool me down! Over and out.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence

All right, the story you all have been waiting for and the one I have been avoiding desperately to write is finally here. Not my best piece, by any means, but still gives you a very small slice of my truly amazing experience for which I cannot find words to capture. Enjoy....

My journey. 2 days prior to my departure from Saigon, my guesthouse decided to give me a surprise and have my ipod be "missing" from my room. Perfect timing for it to get snagged. There is something to be said about travelling lighter. Took the bus to Dalat, which is a nice town but much colder than Saigon. A welcome change. We also found the inhabitants of Dalat to have the best English of any Vietnamese towns we visited. The collective "we" I am using refers to Cindy and I. Cindy is a cool cat from D.C. and is formerly known as a pharmacist. Dalat is known for its night market. We took a day motorbike tour of the city and liked it so much that we decided to bag part of our bus ticket to Nha Trang and hop on the bikes with Thai and Tao. Enter music: "Born to be Wild". Have never felt so alive. The landscape along the Ho Chi Minh trail was absolutely stunning. It is so lush and green and reminded me so much of Costa Rica. I really wonder how they fought a war in that stuff. Talk about homefield advantage! We drove through countless hill tribe towns and everyone rushed out to say hello to us as though we were celebrities. I was amazed though,that nearly every bamboo house we drove by had a tv. According to Western standards these people have nothing, and the thought of having a tv over a car or running water was a little different for me at first. But yet they have everything they need and are so happy. The highlight of the trip was when we shared a meal with a hill tribe family. Again, they had nothing, but yet were so generous to us and happy. I was truly touched. Ahh, the meaning of life.
Our bike trip ended in Hoi An, and luckily we didn'tdo the bike trip in reverse order, meaning from Hoi An to Dalat. I had so many beautiful clothes made in HoiAn that I had to get another mongo backpack. Have already shipped some stuff home and plan on shipping some more tomorrow. Hoi An, by far, is my favorite town in Vietnam. Not only is it home to 200 tailors, but it is so charming and quaint and is the only town to still have that French flair. Somehow it got spared from all the bombs.
Have spent the last 2 weeks here in Hanoi. So much more livable and more pleasant here than in Saigon! There are loads of lakes and parks, it's cleaner, quieter, and the traffic is less hectic. Just got back from a trip to Ha Long Bay. That's up there with Hoi An as one of my fave places. So pristine and QUIET. Stayed one night on a "junk" boat, kayaked, hiked, and biked around the islands, and even karaoked the final night. So much fun.
Met some new friends on the Bay tour and am meeting them in Thailand for Christmas/New Years. Always an adventure. Have a great holiday one and all!

Monday, December 13, 2004


Don't say you didn't start singing along! Digits, I got 'em, who wants 'em? My mobile number is: (084) 0909696104. Brackets indicate country code. 13 hours ahead. Would love to chat, but know it will cost you all an arm and a leg to call. But I do have text messaging, for those of you who are hip,cool, and so with the times. The only thing is that my phone requires extreme fine motor coordination, of which I don't possess, and thus my replies tend to be rather short. Damn phone. But it is so small and cute, how could I possibly say no? Oh yeah, one more thing, no voicemail. So email is still the easiest and fastest way to communicate, but if you want to say hi I would love to hear your voice!

Stay Tuned....

Unfortunately, my inspiration for this evening has run out. Bummer. But stay tuned for more exciting adventures, such as:

"Minty's Motorcycle Maintenance"
"Minty Does Retail Therapy" and
"Minty Actually Gets a Job!"
as well as countless others that I can't think of right now! Good Night.

Bottomless Pit

Yeah, that's me. For some reason I am shocking Asians left and right with the amount of food I eat. Even Cindy is amazed. The food is excellent here and I just can't get enough. Luckily I haven't lost my bionic metabolism and think I look relatively the same. My clothes still fit, at least. Typical evening, Cindy and I order dinner. My "entree" is fine for a starter. Cindy is finished eating. I order another entree. The waiter sends me looks of shock and awe as I attempt to finish it. Waiter clears plates and I send Cindy the signal letting her know that I am too embarassed to ask for the dessert menu myself, but really want something sweet. Cindy asks about dessert. I finish my dessert, and the other half of Cindy's that Cindy didn't order. Case closed. I walk away hoping that I won't get severe hunger pangs before bed, but half the time usually do.

Ho Ho Hanoi

I know it is a little early for Santa, but it makes a great title. So yes, I'm back on the blog and inspired to write about my adventures! Have been hanging out in Hanoi for a week wondering how to go about the daunting task of actually putting my experience into words. We'll see how it goes. Think I will have a lot of posts as opposed to one ginormous one. Don't want to put any of you to sleep on this Monday morning. And I can't promise that these are going to be in chronological order, I usually am not inspired that way. So don't bother trying to keep it all straight. Just enjoy....

Um right, so Hanoi is a nice change from Saigon. But oddly enough I found myself truly missing the chaos and vibrant life of the Southerners. Sure there are lots of beautiful parks and lakes here and it's cleaner, quieter, and overall more livable here, but I miss the cyclo drivers camping out on the sidewalk! I also miss smiling and laughing. The people are more reserved here and don't burst into smiles when I flash them my pearly whites. But I think I might be warming up to them, or them to me. The natives are probably not used to some quasi-blonde (yes, my highlights are growing out and I look like a frosted cupcake, but colleagues have told me that it looks natural) Western woman who always seems to be smiling for some reason.

But I think I can hack it here in Hanoi. The first couple of days I wasn't too sure, but now that I am unpacked, I can see settling in Hanoi for a month or two.