Sorry if this blog is poorly written and with grammar mistakes and run on sentences, I am quite ill at the moment of writing and publishing and want to get back to sleep.
At the end of the last blog post, I made a commitment to holding my head high and triumphantly spending my final days in Hanoi exploring the city and enjoying my time abroad. I did so for almost a full week, again being joined by another great friend from home and several others for a trip out into the Vietnamese countryside. I learned how to ride a semi-automatic motorbike, and rode one for over fifteen hours without crashing. I watched Inception for the first time ever, and everybody in 2010 was right, the movie’s great. I then got really, really sick. My triumphant conquering of my final weeks in Hanoi has taken a pause as a stomach bug which had been going around my house hit me particularly hard these past two days, so hard that I am just now finding the strength to hopefully quickly jot down some highlights and passing thoughts from the past week before taking an early bedtime so I can (hopefully) wake up at midnight to watch the Patriots game.
Wednesday before last, two kids who I knew but didn’t know at Tulane arrived in Hanoi, Cooper Pillot with whom I had taken some classes and was on a casual-conversation basis with his friend Adam Levine, who’s name I recognized but couldn’t honestly pick him out of a lineup. We spent a couple days hanging out in Hanoi, as they are both on grander journeys around Southeast Asia and the world. On Monday, a good friend of mine Zach “Farm” Jaffe showed up, along with a friend from his youth Brogan “Blue” whom I had met before – at Mardi Gras, so not the best time to meet someone and remember them. Blue’s friend Warren also joined. Thus the six of us rented bikes and hit the road, seven and a half hours out into the Vietnamese countryside to a place called Phu Luong.
It was a gorgeous but treacherous ride there, my butt falling asleep by hour two and being in intense pain by hour five. What would’ve been some of the most gorgeous views in Vietnam were blocked by heavy dense clouds as we ascended into the mountains. There were times when you couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead of you. Coming down the mountain, we wound through tight turns past rockslides that looked like they could’ve happened yesterday, or even fifteen minutes ago. Somehow, by the grace of God, we all pulled into the Phu Luong Retreat after almost 200 km of driving just after sunset on the evening of October 16. We ate and drank and played cards and hung out and it was great. The beds were the softest I’ve yet to encounter in the countryside, where you’re usually lucky to sleep on anything more than the floor.
Wednesday began slowly, as the clouds from the day before had made no advance nor any retreat, rather parked themselves heavy over the mountains. We rode down into the small town which was about 7 kilometers away, and ended up doing Karaoke at a gas station with some locals. You can’t make this stuff up.
Afterwards, we drove around until we found a little place which had these bamboo rafts. An old man emerged from the house connected to the rafts and offered us tea, and after we were able to communicate to him we wished to take the rafts out he beckoned two men from the rice fields to escort us along the river for a scenic albeit cloudy cruise. It was a helluva time.
Once we returned to our hostel, It was getting dark and we were all exhausted from a long day of Karaoke and boating. After a nice dinner and some more cards, I fell asleep one of the earliest times in Vietnam for me so far – about 11pm.
The next day we woke up and drove the seven hours back to Hanoi. Taking a different route, we avoided the winding narrow steep paths of the mountains and traded them in for the long sweeping pavement of the Ho Chi Minh Peace Highway. The view was fantastic throughout, though obstructed at times by clouds and the like. Again, somehow none of the six of us crashed during the journey and we made it back to Hanoi collectively in one piece.
Farm left Friday morning, it was a very quick visit from a very good friend. I was sad to see him go but no where near as much as in the departure of other visitors, perhaps because he was here for such a quick time and we made the most of it but maybe because I’ve trained myself in a way and learned from the lows after other departures. Though a low has certainly hit during this illness.
I was hoping to get a lot of footage during our trip to Phu Luong and mix It all to “Back in Black” by AC/DC creating the most epic rock music video ever seen, but GoPro is a terrible company which makes unreliable products which malfunction out of nowhere. Thus, I leave you with the pictures above and the stylings of AC/DC below, you will have to imagine them mashed up with high quality footage of all of us driving around.
I want to again apologize if this blog isn’t up to snuff with my normal blogs, but my mind is mush as my stomach descends further into chaos. I thought I was over the worst of it last night, but that apparently was hubristic thinking.
I have just one week of work left, but only two days of actual work. Tuesday and then two final classes Friday, and then the time will come for “Goodbye Teacher”. I will be sad to end my time but I am also ready to move on. I am not a destined to be a teacher of young children, that is the main thing I realized while teaching. While I love the kids, feigning enthusiasm for the letter “F” has been getting more and more difficult with each passing day.
I hope to get better, healthier this week, hopefully make It back to the gym to begin doing at least some elliptical work while my wrist keeps me off the yoga mats and away from other exercises. I hope to watch the Red Sox topple “los Doyers” in what is sure to be a fiercely fought fall classic. Two weeks from today, I will be in Hong Kong with my mother, departing back to Hanoi for a final time the next day and launching into my final adventure. I will then arrive home on Christmas Eve, which naturally makes Christmas Eve the real Christmas this year.
More updates and musings to come once my stomach gets right. Go Pats Go Sox.