Monday, December 15, 2008

First Hike in Vietnam

Last Saturday, a few students came to take me and Caleb up the hill near the school. They came at 7:30 in the morning, and we walked to the hill and hiked up to the peak. It was a very pleasant morning and a nice little hike. We had nice chats along the way and got to know the students a little better. On the way back down, we stopped by a cute little pine grove on the hillside. It was carpeted with pine needles, and the air was filled with the pine scent, and I felt for a brief moment as if I was in Yosemite. Caleb enjoyed picking pine cones and playing with the students.

Crazy Mike

I have a friend.
His name is Mike.
He has a bike.
Mike and his bike
are now on their way
to Vietnam for a 1000 mile ride along the coast of Vietnam.
He'll be spending his Christmas and New Year with his bike somewhere
in a country totally foreign to him.
Please remember him in your thoughts and prayers.
I hope to see him on Jan 5th here in HP, in one piece.
You can check out his US coast-to-coast trip last year here

Monday, December 8, 2008

December is here


It's been getting cooler here, and I actually had to wear a jacket to class this week for the first time. First time wearing a jacket in VN. The students almost didn't recognize me with a jacket. All this time, they have been bundling themselves up in the classroom with scarfs and gloves and wondering why their teacher is still in his short sleeve shirt! This week, they finally saw a jacket on me, and so some were taking pictures of this rare sighting.

I have actually been enjoying the cool air, treasuring it because I know when spring and summer come, I will be suffering in the sweltering heat again. I am trying to savor and suck up all the cold air now, saving it for the hot summer days.

Not only has the weather turned cooler, the air has also become a lot dryer. It can get so incredibly dry here in the winter, in contrast to the 100% humidity of the summer. The skin now is trying to cope with the extremely dry air. It would be nice some rain now!

Teaching has been busy as usual. I just gave the students their 2nd listening midterm last week. This coming Wednesday will be their 2nd speaking midterm. They're all busy preparing for the speaking test this week. They say speaking is the hardest of the 4 skills. The test is very simple. Each student comes into the classroom when it's his/her turn and sits down in front of me and speaks for 2 minutes on a topic that I choose. I have given them seven possible topics to prepare for, and I will pick one in random during the test. Grammar and pronunciation will be the main things for which I will be listening.

Electricity and water have been quite flaky these days. We just don't know when power gets cut off and for how long. When there's no power, then the pump doesn't work and we also run out of water. On Friday, I woke up to no water and had to use drinking water to brush my teeth to get ready for my 6:30am class. I also used the stored water in the barrel in the bathroom to wash my face, wondering whether it was clean enough to use. This morning, there was no electricity in the classroom, so a student needed to run outside to buy batteries so we could use the CD player for our listening lesson.

On a positive note, the school gave us a driver and a van to take Grace and Caleb to the airport in Hanoi. We had planned to take the bus and taxi with our luggage, leaving HP at 5am to make it to the airport in time. But at the last minute, the school said they could provide a driver to pick us up right outside our room at 6:30am. We felt like VIPs. We hope that they will come through for us again this coming Thursday when Grace and Caleb need to be picked up at the airport in Hanoi.

The past two weeks, Manny and Ruth have been taking good care of me. They cooked and invited me over for dinner almost every day. They are a kind couple. Some students also brought over snacks like chestnuts, dried lychees, and "banh bot loc". I have been provided for. I am grateful.

Just got news yesterday from a good friend and ex-coworker in San Jose that she is getting married in January. Too bad I won't be there for their wedding. Wishing them joy and many blessings in their life together!