Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wishful thinking

We've had a few colder than normal days here in Bangkok, which has been amazing. The last 3 days, I have enjoyed wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, & closed-toed shoes to school. I've also enjoyed having my windows and doors wide open, instead of running the air-con.

I think my Spanish 1 students have finally perfected saying, "It's cold" in Spanish as they come into class shivering. They have also been taking advantage of this crazy opportunity to wear their fake letter jackets (more on this later).

The "cold" spell has made for some funny comments from the students, my personal favorite being, "Do you think it will snow? That would be so great if it did."Sorry dude, pretty sure 66-70 degrees isn't cold enough for snow. Nice try though. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vietnam Part 3

After the day and a half on the junk boat, we travelled back to Hanoi and returned to our first hotel. We meandered around Hanoi again, found a place that sold coffee, picked up my custom made shirt, and ate at an amazing Spanish tapas restaurant.

It was a short but certainly sweet trip.

Heaven on earth...
Delightful Vietnamese coffee. Ignore the color difference of our coffees... hehe

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vietnam Part 2

We had arranged to do a junk boat tour of Halong Bay through an agent. The bus picked us up in the morning and we had about a 2 hour bus ride to the bay. We had quite the eclectic crowd on the boat: Mike & me, a 30 year old single guy, originally from Seattle, who is a lawyer and currently lives/works in Singapore, and a Canadian gay father who was without his partner, but was in the company of his two ten year old sons. Eclectic, indeed.

Halong Bay is beautiful and we enjoyed the tour a lot. We had great food, had time to play a lot of cribbage & banana grams, and time to talk with the other guests on the boat. We also had the opportunity to go kayaking in the bay and tour a massive cave. 

On the 2 hour van ride out to Halong Bay, we took a pit stop at a crafty place...

This is how I pictured Vietnam... beautifully green rice fields

Halong Bay

Our bedroom on the Classic Sail

Quite the fancy-shmancy bathroom. I would have never expected this marble bathroom from the looks of the outside of the boat.
Mike on the bow with our friendly dragon

Famous rocks of Halong Bay. You see what you want to see, but these 2 rocks are known as the 2 fighting cocks.

Sorry for the graininess... you can tell this was taken on my point & shoot instead of the SLR. I think it might have been in a plastic ziplock baggie at the time too. :)

Kayaking through the bay and in some caves.

On our way to Sung Sot Cave

Sung Sot is a famous and beautiful cave, belonging to the protected zone of Ha Long Bay, which was trice recognized as a world natural heritage for its aesthetic values and its geology geomorphology by UNESCO.

Here's our group: M&K, Matt (the lawyer), Harry (the dad), Pierce (white kid) & Evan (Vietnamese kid). Granted, Evan is ducking down a little bit, but he actually is older than Pierce by a few months. Vietnamese people are pretty petite!

Coming out of the cave, this was the spectacular view...

Back to our boat

My favorite picture all trip (well... aside from all the funny kayaking pictures of Mike)

Pierce, Evan & Matt... saying their farewells.

Matt and our Vietnamese tour guide, Mike. Mike sure is a man of short stature... even I was taller than him!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vietnam Part 1

We used our personal days and took a mini vacation/birthday trip to Vietnam. We left really early in morning on Mike’s birthday and flew into Hanoi. We had a taxi from the travel company pick us up to bring us to our hotel (about 40 min away), and enjoyed the rest of the day in Hanoi. We walked around this nice lake, ate some yummy baguettes, had some traditional Vietnamese Pho, saw a water puppet show, got measured for a custom made shirt, spent a long time amazed at the traffic of Vietnam, and watched people literally GAWK and do a double take at Mike’s air cast (more on that later).

Enjoying some Pho
Sidewalks aren't made for walking...

We went to a water puppet show that was pretty entertaining. See the pictures and a few videos of our experience...

Water Puppet Show

Want to learn more about water puppetry? Click HERE to find out more!
Birthday dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant
Fresh spring rolls
?? Something delightfully delicious, but I don't remember what...
I found this sight a little humorous... these big guys sitting on tiny little chairs.
Granted, it was cold (60's), but cold enough for ear muffs??!

How many balloon vendors can be on one street? Well, at least 3! At one point in time we saw 4... and they were all huddled up next to each other. What was the funniest part was that people would actually be flying by on their motorbikes, decide they needed a balloon and would stop to buy a balloon. It was like watching a drive-through fast food restaurant serving balloons. Bizarre.

Organized chaos...
One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Vietnam was that people use their horns a lot more than in Bangkok; now I understand why. :)

lamps, anyone?

Bootlegger... I mean, boot wearer.