Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beach Time!

This weekend 18 ladies from Saigon South International School will be traveling to Mui Ne by train for some much needed beach time. We have a little over three weeks left of school, so we're finishing up final projects, entering grades and writing finals. I've been to Mui Ne two times this year, this is my third, and every time I've loved walking down the white, sandy beach, getting a massage and eating the fine food. A hedonist, I am. Hedonism aside, we'll focus on yoga this trip. My yoga teacher from Saigon Yoga is coming with us to Mui Ne and teaching three classes over the two days. Here's to sand and sweat--cheers!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birthday in Bangkok

I celebrated my birthday in Bangkok, Thailand this year with my boyfriend, Michael and good friends, Dyana and Joanne. We ate street Pad Thai every day, to the point where I don’t think I’ll need the mouthwatering goodness of grease, noodles, tofu, sprinkled with peanuts for a few months or at least a few days.

Most of our hours were spent walking around in the mind bending heat, shopping and visiting. Dyana and I took the ferry boat to the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha where we sat in silence, reflecting on our past year and future health for our friends and selves. Joanne accomplished a great deal of her shopping goals, and Michael searched for schools to attend in Bangkok. At night, we all sat by the road side listening to live music, drinking gin and tonics. A successful adventure!

Our final destination was Bumrungrad International Hospital. Because our Insurance covers a full medical check-up, Dyana, Joanne and I made our way through the stations of a five star hotel masquerading as a hospital. Take picture, sign name, fill out form, move past the Star Bucks/bookstore, up the escalator, flat screen televisions hanging on the wall, glass windows, plush couches, wellness center… The doctors x-rayed, took blood, checked our eyes, pinched and prodded us. After four hours of experiencing medical care as a well oiled machine, a doctor sat down with me and explained that I am in very good health. She said I needed to exercise more often, which is why I’ve been doing yoga every day, but other than that, I have the heart of a horse. We all compared notes. Joanne said she had care like that of Bumrungrad in China, but Canadian Dyana and U.S.A. I agreed that we’d never seen care of this caliber. Until next time, Bangkok!

Dyana and Karinna at the Grand Palace. Boat Stop #9

Joanne listening to music, thinking about China.

Lady Perched, waiting. Just waiting.

Patriotic sky outside Koh San Road

More Temple, Yum.

Midnight, my birthday. I am now an adult. It took a long time.

Xu Date

Michael took me out to dinner at Xu this weekend. We ate heart of palm soaked in a vat of butter, seared scallops over a bed of noodles, frothy passion fruit martinis, and sparkling water. The hues of red, brown, and beige reflected through the candles and wine corks cascaded from the ceiling, down the wall. Fresh, light, wonderful food and company…a satisfying Saturday. Eat, drink and be merry!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Three times a week I take a half an hour cab ride to District 1 at 5:30 to attend a yoga class taught at Saigon Yoga. Bright, airy, light music, wood floors, tall, long windows… I know I’m going to sound like the Eat, Pray, Love chick but yoga has made my life better in Vietnam. When I do yoga, it’s not graceful. They don’t have air conditioning so I spend much of the time sweating profusely and my loud donkey breaths disturb the sinewy pretzel next to me, but again…life changing. The meditative focus, the heat, the muted sounds of dogs whining and horns honking outside, and the people bending their bodies for individual reasons, uniting in the sound of “om/aum” makes me at peace with the world and peace is something I’ve found difficult to come by in HCMC. When you come to visit me in Saigon, we will go to Saigon Yoga and you can meet my wonderful teacher, Michelle. You will like her, and you will like yoga. I said, you will like yoga!

Address:10F Nguyen Thi Minh Khai District 1 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone numbers:Studio: 090 835 2265 or 08 3 910 5181 Inquiries in English: 090 835 2265 or 090 318 3248Inquiries in Japanese: 0122 317 7814 Inquiries in Vietnamese: 0906 432 306

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My mother sent me a light blue canon camera for my birthday, so I've been on a picture spree for the last few weeks. Thanks, Mom! The camera is fantastic. With close to five weeks left before my departure from Vietnam, I've been enjoying my time here, focussing on the small and significant. I've spent most of my time in Saigon, in my classroom. This is a shot of my classroom sans students. They were taking their A.P. exam, so I was able to dance around the room all by myself.

The old school desks tip over when you sit on top or wiggle around. Beware!

A sky shot from the fourth floor of Saigon South International. The rainy season brings contrasting clouds and a vibrant sky.

Saigon Cat Walk

Where is your cultural stress level? I often find myself wading in acceptance. "Yeah, it's all ok, I'll get by." I think it's the PNW gal in me. My friend Anton is from the south, which means, as he says, mock, mock, mock... The chart is from a health class, painted quite a few years ago, but throughout the year it has kept me company as I chart my culture shock progress and setbacks. If you have culture shock stories, share! Miss you all! Love, Karinna

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mr. Tree

Mr. Tree lives off Alberta. I miss him. If you have a moment, go visit my friend.

Kick this Bag

Tote bag from the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha store--handmade by fashionable monks.

Kenneth Cole Shoes, Paragon Mall, 50% off purchase!

Shout out to my hottie, Bika!

Man on the Ledge

I was starting my yoga practice at night when, ten minutes into the downward dog, I saw a man standing, rope in hand on my balcony. Startled, I stood up, smiled, walked over to the window and closed the curtains. I thought two things, he's either working on the apartment or checking the fire escape, which oddly enough consists of a rope and anchor--old school fire escape. I went back to my yoga.

Michael walked out of the guest room after a guitar session, put on his shoes and told me he was going to the store. "Ok," I said "but would you mind checking on the guy standing on the balcony." Michael walked outside, chatted with the stranger for only a moment, popped back inside and grabbed the camera. "What are you doing?" I asked. "You don't see this everyday," he said.