But I Keep Cruising

Don’t care what the haters say, I love Taylor Swift too much. FINALLY A NEW SONG! 

No man can handle her because she’s too strong for them. Your guy will come one day, don’t worry Taylor. Keep bringing that talent to the world! 

Your songs make my drive to work worthwhile. #fangirling #donthate #queen 

#dontsettleforless

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Have You Heard of Long Xuyên?

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That’s the adorable waffle lady I befriended at the market! One day I stopped by her waffle stand and we ended up having a pretty fun conversation. From then on she would always remember me and I’d also stop by when I have time to say hello. The last time I saw her I told her I was going to leave soon. She asked about America, my sisters, how I could speak Vietnamese so fluently, etc. I found out she’s actually only 26, but she looks older than her actual years. 

Almost every morning and afternoon I would walk through the market with my coworkers to grab breakfast and/or lunch. The market is walking distance from the office and I loved walking through all the fresh produce stands. They sold fish, rice, eggs, and just anything you can imagine, including mice (maybe you didn’t imagine that). Yes, mice. The mice is freshly skinned and cut, as if they were fish. Supposedly their meat is really good, but don’t count on me to try that. 

I always tend to buy fruits, sữa đậu nành (soymilk) and chè (traditional sweet Vietnamese dessert, beverage, or soup like pudding). Chè can be made with a variety of ingredients, including mung beans, jelly, aloe vera, lotus seeds, seaweed, pandan leaf extract, etc. I tried grapefruit chè (I don’t think they have that in California because I’ve never heard of it) for the first time and it’s pretty delicious. 

If you asked me to share one of my favorite memories from Vietnam, it’d definitely have to be grabbing breakfast and/or lunch with the staff and then walking through the market to digest all of our food. Those times were always fun and filled with laughter. It was easy to grab food with everyone because we always stayed in the vicinity and live in the area. We spend so much time together but seriously everyday was a fun day with them.

If the PALS office was not located in Long Xuyên, I don’t think I would’ve ever pinned it on the map as a “go-to” destination because it’s not known as a tourist attraction. It’s the capital city of An Giang province, which is located in the Mekong Delta. I’m so glad I got to live and work in Long Xuyên because it’s less crowded than Saigon and definitely quieter. I wasn’t used to it at first and thought of it as a boring city, but then I began to enjoy the calmness and it was a nice escape from bustling Saigon and the crazy drivers. Long Xuyên is such a cute city and definitely has a very special place in my heart. 

Vietnam I Love You!

Love is in the air. I love these notes and gifts from my amazing campers. Trying to sort through each one. At least this will allow me to practice reading in Vietnamese. <3

Love is in the air. I love these notes and gifts from my amazing campers. Trying to sort through each one. At least this will allow me to practice reading in Vietnamese. ❤

Last night in Vietnam… just read the notes that the staff at Long Xuyen put together for me and I want to cry. I also went through the notes from all the campers, and those made me want to cry too. I’m going to miss everyone so much. Every single one of them left a footprint and a huge impact on my life and my future endeavors.  I seriously adore and love the staff that I had the pleasure of working with, the university volunteers that helped out at camp, and the amazing young campers and scholarship recipients. Vietnam has been nothing but amazing to me: the food is cheap and delicious, the people are friendly and cute (minus that one trickster who lied about boat tickets), the culture is booming and bountiful, the city thrives with the working class and continuous economical development, and the countryside is gorgeous and fruitful.

I probably can’t survive too long in the countryside though. The mosquitoes will feed on me until I rot and I don’t enjoy the fob squat too much. All that adds to the experience though, and that’s what I enjoy about being in different areas and experiencing different living conditions. I appreciate and respect the environment and people here a lot. The Vietnamese people are hardworking and persistent: they will bombard you with questions and try to ask if you want this and that. People may ignore and yell, but I usually just respectfully decline because really, they’re just normal people trying to make a living. No need for me to get aggressive. It doesn’t resolve any situation and treating others the way I want to be treated has brought upon plenty of good relationships and karma. I’ve met many friendly and helpful people while travelling alone or with others here.

I still have so many adventures that I need to post but regrettably never had the time. Therefore I will continue to use this blog to post about my trip and relive some pretty great memories that I never had the chance to share yet!

Oh, I also got a bacterial eye infection. Of course everything would go smoothly until my last few days here. It’s as if Vietnam wanted to leave a scar for me because it’s been too good otherwise. As for  the eye infection,  I noticed the white spot last night. I knew it had to be bacteria colonizing my eye, so first thing today I went to the eye doctor at the American Eye Center. I was right about the infection, and the doctor said that luckily I got it looked at right away or it could’ve resulted in vision damage. Oh lord, thank goodness for sterilizing drops and hopefully my eye will get better!

Troi oi – Boonies

Ahhh can’t believe how quickly the two summer camps came and ended. I seriously wish I had the energy and brainpower to blog about it while it was happening, but it was too difficult. I was up at 5:30am and got back to the hotel at about 9-9:30pm or 10 the latest everyday for 8 days straight. By the time I got back, all I wanted to do was shower and knock out. So please forgive my lack of updates. It was seriously the highlight of my trip so I will do a post on it shortly.

Right now I am supposed to be on an island called Nam Du. But a series of unfortunate events happened so we did not make it out to any island. We seriously spent 3 days just travelling… on all forms of transportation – from motorbikes to boats to buses – but ended no where really worthwhile. My coworker’s friend said he’s been to Nam Du and tickets shouldn’t be a problem. However, when we got there this morning, there no more tickets to the island (WHAT…). We then walked out of there and passed by some restaurants that claimed to have tickets to a different island. We asked one of the lady if she had enough for 3 and she said “yes, yes, we have plenty for the ride at 10am! Just take a seat and eat something.” We didn’t eat right away because we were pretty disappointed that there were no tickets to Nam Du. We traveled by boat from Ca Mau to Kien Giang all of yesterday just so we can catch the boat to Nam Du today and spend our weekend there since staff gets a break from the summer camps. We also split with the other half of our group yesterday just so we could go to this island.

So we sat around at that street restaurant from 8am – 9am. Ate something, at 9am the guy there said he didn’t have tickets yet, and he said to wait until 9:30am. I seriously already had a hunch that they were lying because they just wanted us to sit and eat at their stupid restaurant. At 9:20 he said we may have to wait until 9:45 and I was like wtheck, if you keep pushing it back you are lying and I’m definitely not giving you any money first to buy any ticket.

When my friend and I went to a nearby market, we got a call from our third friend saying that the guy said there were no tickets left, only ones for 1PM. OMG. We waited from 8AM to 10AM, and now this stupid guy wants us to wait until 1PM? I swear, they lured us in just so we would eat. Complete BS. We didn’t want to waste anymore time sitting around so we left and took a bus back to Saigon, which was another 5.5 hours. 

Last Minute Luxurious Ride. Always trust Phuong Tran buses.

Last Minute Luxurious Ride. Always trust Phuong Tran buses.

So on the bright side, we will try for Vung Tau tomorrow, bus ride wasn’t too bad, and I had my delicious flattened banana goodness (I don’t know what else to call it haha) to munch on. 

Ngon qua (so good!)

Ngon qua (so good!)

P.S. Troi oi = oh my gosh 🙂