Friday, February 17, 2012

jumping into the year of the dragon

Obviously already broke my resolution of trying to blog once every week, but it was a nice thought. I recently read that it was easier to do something everyday than to do it every once in a while. It is an interesting thought and I have never tried to do something everyday without getting burned out. But maybe when my "happiness project" is implemented, things can change and my approach to doing yoga will take a turn for the better.

Ongoings in my life right now:
  • I have over 20 mosquito bites on my feet and toes alone. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, my birthday is in three days and am celebrating with my friends this weekend by eating snails and drinking large amounts of bia Saigon. It's going to be a little weird celebrating my birthday in another country, especially when nearly all of my friends are Vietnamese. Birthdays here don't seem to be as big of a deal as in America (or at least as big of deal as I always make mine to be in America), but the chances of me not celebrating my 23rd birthday are nonexistent. So get ready to get down. 
  • Due to the amazing fact that I won free Vietnamese classes by doing a Vietnamese crossword puzzle on my school's website, I am starting Vietnamese class next week again (weeee!) which should put some structure back in my day. I am getting really good at understanding people, but I totally freak out and get nervous when I  actually want to say my own creative sentence. And my pronunciation is getting pretttty rusty. 
I should probably go on to explain my trip to Nha Trang before I forget everything that happened. I'll try to keep it brief upon receiving the feedback from my brother Scott ("No offense Laurel, but your blog is a little hard to keep up with...I mean I usually just look at the pictures"). Yes, I know the posts can be wordy but if the world is going to end up as Fahrenheit 451 predicted in which people only read the headlines for their news, I urge you savor the knowledge as it is presented to you.

Nha Trang is one of the most popular tourist cities in Vietnam. It lies right along the beach and I had heard that it had some of the most beautiful beaches in the country so I was excited for some total R&R (rest and relaxation). If the name of the town sounds familiar and you can't put your finger on it, its probably because it is the town in the opening battle scene of Apocalypse Now (when the go "surfing"). Needless to say, it looks nothing like that now. It is no longer a little peewee village with a bunch of natives living in huts. It is a thriving and beautiful little beach town that looks very similar to those you would see in FL.

Nha Trang is about 8 hours away by bus so I took an overnight "sleeper bus" where there are a bunch of bunk beds that are very similar to dentist chairs in the reclined position. It actually was not that bad and much better than an airplane. However, I wouldn't exactly call the journey smooth though because it was basically trying like sleeping through a small earthquake the entire ride--so bumpy. Also, the AC was blasted to the extreme and when I tried to move the vents away from me the lady next to me kept yelling at me that I was making her cold :(

I was warmly greeted by Tho (a girl at work who has become my BFF over here) and her father at 5AM. I didn't sleep a wink on the bus and immediately collapsed in the hammock at her house. However, without a moment to lose we were off to the local market to get a bunch of food for the holiday meal. Tet is basically a day to stuff yourself with as much food as humanly possible, digest, and do it again. As a guest, the Vietnamese do this thing I like to call "force-feeding" in which they just continuously keep putting food in your bowl. If you say "no thank you" I think it makes them do it even more. So even when you are so full that you need to be rolled out of the house, you are still forced to continue to eat.  The food was delectable (for the most part). I skipped out on the ostrich heart and other related items.
ready to feast
Tet is also a day to drink as much beer as you please. There is a semi-hilarious Vietnamese saying "không say, không về" (pronounced CONG SIGH, CONG VAY) that means you cannot return home until you are drunk. If you want to make Vietnamese to think you are the most adorable person ever, you should say that while you are drinking beer. Tho's family spoke no English so they of course got a huge kick out of anything that I said. I cannot tell you how many times the following conversation went down:

Tho's mother or father: "Ngon không?" (Is it delicious)
Me: "Ngon"(Yes, it is delicious)
**Cue hooting and hollering and squealing with delight**

becoming a member of the family 
...along with max
Like HCMC, Nha Trang was also decked out with decorations for the holiday
After a day and a half of what I like to call "snake digestion time" in which you do virtually nothing but lay and digest your food, we toured around the city a little bit. It is so breathtakingly gorgeous I could hardly stand it. I felt like I was in Hawaii (or what I think Hawaii should look like) because of the super blue water and the mountains all along the coast. I was expecting the tourism to be outrageous but the beaches were actually fairly empty and it was extremely relaxing. It was a bit chilly though. However, this had no affect on our post-beer drinking swim.

We visited an old ruin that used to be Cambodian when way long ago the south part of Vietnam belonged to Cambodia. It was really crowded though because a lot was going on for the holiday. I FINALLY came across a Vietnamese calligrapher and of course had my name written out. I get the biggest kick out of the Vietnamese saying my name. What would be "Laurel Ryan Yohe", you have "LauRELLE REEE-an Yo-HAY". Adorbs.

being asian
Another great moment of the trip was the moment that Tho's parents insisted that I call them "mother" and "father" and I was basically adopted into the family. To the point where I am now in the most recent family portrait that has been blown up to a 30x36 and will be framed for their wall. I wish I was kidding. But alas, see the photo below:

The last day of the trip involved a trip to Vinpearl, which is basically like a mini-amusement park. The only way to get there is to take the world's longest cable car.

There were all sorts of interesting rides. Although no Kings Island or Cedar Point, it exceeded my expectations. It also had a phenomenal water park and beautiful beach. It felt like some sort of dream.

My favorite food in Nha Trang was hands down bún cá. YUMMMMYYYY. And of course--you can't leave out the snails.

Started the year of the dragon with a bang.

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