Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bursa Bursa

Last Monday I went to my first yoga class taught only in Vietnamese. Our instructor could place his legs in the lotus position, arch his back and head, throw his 'lotus legs' over his head, touching the tip of his nose. I like yoga. I do not attend yoga class as much as I should, but I enjoy the concept and the practice; however, this yoga class was the most intense and hot yoga class that I have ever attended. I tried my best to hold the headstand, placing unholy pressure on my elbows again and again and again.

Fast-forward to Wednesday's professional development meeting. All our staff, grades K-12, are sitting in the auditorium and my elbow begins to ache. I try to listen to the presentation and statistics, then the room begins to blur, so I stretch my right arm, left arm.... Wait!!! My left elbow is the size of a chicken egg. I am convinced that I have been bitten by a poisonous bug, which will cause immediate death. I think this because if there's one route my brain likes to take, it's the slippery slope: from A to Z. I quickly walk over to my vice principal holding up my inflated elbow. She takes me to the nurse who bandages my swelling, and I am rushed off to the nearest hospital. At the hospital, they stick and iv in me and tell me to calm down about ten times. "Calm down, miss. Calm down." I think I look pretty calm, but they keep telling me this, so I must have looked horrified. Truth be told, I was pretty nervous and when I'm nervous, all the color leaves my face. When I feel out of sorts, sick or nervous there's nothing I like more than a good story, so my v.p. told me stories of giving birth in the middle east: rushing, in the middle of the night to the king's hospital, covered and veiled. I laughed my way to the doctor coming in to detach me from the iv and tell me about elbow bursitis. My elbow bursts and was infected (who knows how), and now, she tells me, I will have liquid and pain to deal with for a bit. How long is a bit? She handed me a prescription for antibiotics and advil and sent me on my semi-crippled way. 

I'm in the healing process right now, which is a place between routine work and dreamland. I haven't photographed the whole experience, but I will forever remember my trips to FV hospital during my second month here. I guess the moral of the story is Vietnamese yoga is not for me, or at least not for my elbow! 

On a less serious side note, I still look like Drew Barrymore in Vietnam. I thought I would escape the curse of this observation in southeast asia, but no, no, not even close. "Ms. Jones, do you know Drew Barrymore?" "Well, not personally." "You look like her." "Uh, huh." Drat!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Da Lat: How many languages do you speak?

I knew I didn't want to stay in Phu My Hung or Saigon for my holiday, but was not sure what I wanted to do. My friends Dyana and Audrey told me about a trip they booked to Da Lat, so I

 tagged along on the tourtastic journey. 

The bus ride from Saigon to Da Lat is an eight hour trip, so I spent a total of sixteen hours listening to music, reading and trying to grade papers on a bus this weekend. The other two days were a mix of seeing, walking and catching up on sleep. Since Da Lat is located in Central Vietnam and in a mountainous region, it is much cooler during the days and nights--I was able to wear pants and a hoodie and Audrey was able to run for hours without stopping. Upon arrival we ate and slept, but when we woke up at 7:00  we boarded the bus for a taste of Vietnamese tourism. Our first stop was at a waterfall where rode on the back of Ba, the elephant. Poor guy, he carried all three of us! After the elephant ride we visited a Buddhist Monastery, and a flower garden. I was all touristed out, so I took a nap while Dyana and Audrey completed the tour. There was some spa time after the two gals returned, then we watched a minority dance and music group perform at a nearby motel and finally finished off the night with a three hour walk. 

The next day, Monday, salvaged my experience on Sunday. Although I enjoyed some of the sights, I'm not a Disneyland gal or a pseudodisneyland gal, so I found myself slightly annoyed with the number of tourists. On Monday we went on a hike for four hours, and we quite literally ran up the hill. Audrey, the gazelle, was bounding up the mountain, but Dyana and I trudged. The view was beautiful and there was enough time for us to spend on the mountain by ourselves thinking and meditating.

After our hike Dyana and Audrey left to take a motorbike trip around Da Lat while I graded papers at "Friends Cafe".  I ordered a coffee, set my stack of papers on the table, graded one, then I met what was to become my newest friend, Sinh. Sinh, maybe you've met him if you've been to Vietnam, works for Easy Riders, a group of older guys who give motorbike trips from Da Lat to major destinations in Vietnam. Sinh sat down at the cafe and started to chat me up. His firs question: How many languages do you speak? One, was my sheepish reply. He laughed, I speak four. This fifty-sixty something year old guy talked to me about the war, travels, his family, Obama, and on and on until I decided to take a ride on his motorbike. For an hour and a half, Sinh showed me the back side of Da Lat, and I teared up a little when riding because I was so happy to be out of the city, experiencing a little slice of Vietnam that I had not seen before. Sinh dropped me off at my motel for dinner and Audrey, Dyana and I sat down to talk about our motorbike adventures while eating passion fruit. 
We walked around Da Lat for our final night, stopped at a lake side restaurant for some tea and sang to bad "oh so good" 1980's pop songs. I think we put on a show for some locals! The trip home today was a long one, and I'm still staring at a stack of papers, but the adventure and memories were worth the headache I'll have tomorrow. 

I hope this note finds you in good spirits. 
Much Love, Karinna