I’ve struggled the past few days deciding what to blog about for the week. Unlike last week, there has not been a giant moment of inspiration, but rather small exciting moments that continue to be washed away by the rain. The word rain should be taken loosely, as the term more appropriate for the current climate in Hoi An is torrential downpour. Alright, I suppose that is a bit of a hyperbole for this situation, but I’m sure the term will be all the more fitting in the coming months.
Just as I felt the slight possibility of getting used to the blistering, constantly sweating, frizzy hair heat that is Vietnam, it cools down and opens the skies to rain which can only be compared to that shown in Jim Carrey’s film, The Truman Show. You know the scene – as Truman runs frantically around the beach to escape the man-made downpour that targets solely him. I’ve never before seriously considered and respected the glasses with built in wind-shield wipers, but I am thinking of venturing into manufacturing and sales for those alone.
Of course, the rain is not that bad. It only seems to rain exactly when you need to go outside, or hop on your bike to venture to and from work. But don’t worry, because it is guaranteed to be blue skies while you are in the office, or for the brief moments you allow yourself to sleep in. Okay, enough complaining – I promise. How can I possibly be upset by where I am? For every rainy day or major storm, you get the beautiful clear skies that we experienced this past Sunday.
The girls (aka my roommates) and I ventured to Cham Island, with a group of couch surfers and Hoi An/ Da Nang Expats. It was a great weekend away, as we stayed at homestays on the less travelled side of the island. The families that we stayed with gathered to make us the most delicious (and large) meals, took us snorkeling and built a bonfire. While it rained our first day, it was clear skies for the second – which promptly lead to sun-burned shoulders and the ever-glorious flip-flop tan. One of the travellers in our group brought a bag of balloons and a hand pump along with him, and as we left he began to make creatures for the children on the island. For most, if not all, this was the first experience seeing a balloon giraffe, or sword, and the excitement was contagious. Children from all over the island literally ran, biked and skipped from all directions to have their turn at a creature of their own. There was something both adorable and sad (not to mention the kind of funny that makes you feel a bit like a horrible person) about watching the kids go through the process of being given a balloon animal, loving it too quickly and too hard, and watching it pop right from under them. But, alas, these are the balloon lessons that we all must learn, and they teach us the gentle kind of love and adoration that is reserved only for balloon animals and small hamsters.
The first weekend in September was a long weekend throughout Vietnam, as the Monday celebrates the nation’s independence from France many moons ago. We decided to take advantage of the Monday off, and travelled to Hanoi to meet up with the other CIDA interns, and travel out to Halong Bay. Seeing the busy city of Hanoi was just what we needed, a refreshing glimpse at a faster-paced life, and a million little reminders of why we love living in Hoi An so much. The amount of motorbikes was startling, scary, and entertaining- as they all swerve around one another much like a threaded needle. You clutch your knuckles in terror of anticipated accidents, but somehow, they make it work. It must come with the experience of riding with your extended family on a motorbike from a very young age.
Halong Bay was beautiful, but the effects of the tourist boom in recent years could be clearly seen. The water – not quite clear but rather a lake Ontario shade of green, with equally Lake Ontario garbage floating about -was not exactly ideal for swimming. The world famous caves were beautiful, but it is rather hard to truly take in the beauty, when there are at least 100 other tourists exploring alongside you. Tourism throughout Vietnam is essential to economic growth and development, and provides so many jobs that may otherwise be for not, but it’s always hard. Instinctively, we all want to experience beautiful parts of this world alone, or see untouched natural works of art. Still, the food, the scenery, and the company was fantastic. We met a group of Aussies, including 2 sisters that were traveling Vietnam while visiting their brother who works outside of Ho Chi Minh City. The girls just arrived in Hoi An, and we were able to grab a bite to eat with them on Sunday, and will hopefully be seeing them again before their trip is finished. That’s the best part about backpacking: that even though a country can be so large, you always seem to run into the people you’ve seen before.
Alright, that seems to be quite the large tangent for tonight. Next blog I will venture into a bit about the work I’m doing at Lifestart Foundation (knowing my mind, this could also quickly transform into a long tangent about the life choices that lead me to it, the people that have helped me to do it, and maybe (just maybe) if you’re lucky, a detailed comparison of my current situation to a selected movie or song of my choice).
Keep it real, kids. ‘Til next time,
To the moon and back,