Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back in 'Nam

Vietnam went by so quickly! It’s hard to believe that I’m already half way done with my trip and I feel like I’m just getting started. But let me just say, living in Hanoi Vietnam was such an awesome experience.  It’s so busy and fast paced. There are a zillion motorbikes, usually with four people on them. It was always terrifying when you saw a little two year old just sitting between mom and dad. The traffic is just amazing there- everybody just zooming in and out but the amazing this is- everyone just keeps moving and it works. It was really polluted there and the smog covered the sky most of the time. I stayed in Vietnam for a month, while there I took an international business class. I actually learned a lot and thought it was all pretty interesting. At the end of the class we had to propose a business idea-  a business you  wanted to start up and run in Vietnam. There was a prize of $25 and this little lady won! I pitched the idea of teaching theater classes. My professor said that I was most likely to get hired! Boo-yeah, another opportunity to add to my list. 
Roomie, Roomie, and third Roomie!
While in Vietnam we celebrated Halloween- it was fun to see all the interesting costumes us pac rimmers were able to create using our limited resources. I managed a flower child and gypsy. We went to this big Halloween party put on by the Vietnamese business school we were attending. All our Vietnamese program assistants were there and we were able to start a huge dance circle! One of the things I liked most about our time in Vietnam was becoming such good friends with the program assistants and getting to know them. On the actual 31th a group of us ventured out to our new hang out the Bucket bar! I’m pretty sure I don’t even need to explain the name to you :) Many adventure were had at this bucket bar- new friends and lots of dancing! Anywho the exciting part of Halloween was when we got invited to a 5 star hotel for a huge Halloween party by this guy from Dubai. Now I know what you’re thinking- this sounds dangerous…but it really wasn’t, there was a huge group of us, so it was fine. We headed to this hotel, entered into the ballroom and found that it was decked out to the extreme! However, no one was there, everybody had left!!! That, however, did not stop us from dancing and doing model walks down the stage with fog machines. The Vietnamese cops hanging out there found us extremely amusing. Everyone made it back safely but it was quite the night. 

Sarah and I riding in the Vietnamese rickshaw on her birthday!
Besides, Hanoi we visited Halong Bay- which was beautiful and stayed in really fancy hotels. We also went on field trips visiting, the Ho Chi Minh monument, an Ikea factory, a print making village, and attractions around Hoan Kiem Lake. This included riding around in these fun Vietnamese rickshaw type things! We also had a fine dinner at the North Korean restaurant and were sung propaganda songs. 

Halong Bay

Ridin' the boat with The Hangnail aka Monica at Halong Bay
Ho Chi Minh
The fierce fashion group!
Well those were just some of my many adventures from Vietnam. I will now leave you with the blog I wrote for my University’s webpage. If you’re curious you can follow our Pac Rim group blog at http://www.upspacrim.org/blog/ My blog is about an experience my roommate and I had one Saturday evening. I had to change my story a little to make it more appropriate for a public audience- the real version included a bit more swearing and a lot more sass :) If you want to hear the FULL story, let me know…. And without further ado…

The Taxi

There are many benefits from travelling with Pac-Rim: you get the chance to try new foods, make new friends, see the world, and gain an enormous amount of street smarts. My Saturday night began by venturing out with my roommate and new best friend, Miss Anna. We walked around Hoan Kiem Lake, browsed the night market, and indulged in a chocolate sundae. Feeling guilty after consuming so many extra calories, we decided to walk part-way home. We made it to Vincom Mall and agreed that we had worked enough of the sundae off to justify getting a cab to take us the rest of the way home. We hailed the first taxi we saw and hopped in, showed him our address and we were off.
Now it is important to mention that Anna and I had been living in Hanoi, Vietnam for about three weeks now and knew very well that Vincom Mall was only about a kilometer away from our home and that that a taxi ride should not cost more than 20,000 dong, tops! Chatting about Lady Gaga and our new favorite Ke$ha remix, we almost failed to notice that our taxi driver had taken a left instead of a right turn and that we were now speeding down the high way. We shot each other concerned looks and began to panic when we noticed that the taxi meter had already climbed all the way up to 33,000 dong! “Anna, I think this guy is trying to scam us” I whispered. Our 5 minute taxi ride was now turning into a 15 minute joy ride of downtown Hanoi. We did our best to stay calm and were both relieved when we finally caught sight of our guest house up the road.
           By the time he pulled the taxi over and parked our meter was at a whopping 82,000 dong! Shaking myself out of shock, I told Anna to get out of the taxi, we slowly walked around to the passenger side window. Sweet, darling Anna was trying to convince me that we should just pay him 40,000 dong and let it be that. However, I being a woman who needed fairness and justice, knew that even that would be too generous of a payment. I calmly looked at him and said, “This is too much! We will only pay you 20,000 dong.” I asked Anna to give me the 20,000 dong- “Anna, the dong!” Anna handed it to me and I offered it to the devious taxi driver. Realizing that he had been caught, he reluctantly took the dong and with that we began our victorious walk up to our room. I looked back just for a second to see the taxi driver smile and nod at me- he knew that we were not ladies to be messed with because we were Pac-Rimmers! Anna and I felt proud that we had avoided being scammed by using our street smarts—not to mention that with the extra 42,000 dong we were able to treat ourselves to another chocolate sundae.

Rush hour, Hanoi