Saturday, June 18, 2011

rocking and rolling

Dear diary,

I awoke this morning way too early. Outside my bedroom window I could hear a gaggle of young ruffians shouting for their dear friend in an adjacent apartment:

phong oi!
phong oi!
phong oi!

A minute of that went by and there was no Phong to be found. A more concerned person would be wondering if something terrible had happened to Phong. What if he slipped in the shower and knocked himself out?? Poor Phong!

But no, dude. I wasn't having any of that. I opened my window and shushed them. Silence, yes. Let me get back to nursing my pained back from not having my hugging pillow unpacked yet in my new (temporary) apartment.

And then the doorbell rings. Maintenance workers arrive to repair the plastic shingle covering the terrace. Power tooling and shooting projectile snot out of their nose with the 'cover-one-nostril-and-blow' technique - and thus, my precious Saturday off from work begins.


The past week has been quite an adventure. Rainy season has been playing hide-n-seek on a daily/nightly basis. My first ride through almost a foot of flooded water on Hanoi Highway into district 2 + getting lost for an hour = not the bidnit. As much as I enjoy the freedom and the cacophonous soundtrack the hustle and bustle of the city offers on a motorbike ride, I am definitely missing having a windshield. Something about having tiny droplets of water feel like a dozen daggers through my eyes at 60km an hour just doesn't make it worth it sometimes.

The way that night started should have been a warning to me about how it might end. A few hours celebrating at a friend's housewarming and I was ready to make the almost hour drive back home. Now, I was under the impression that if I were to do as the locals do, I'd be pretty safe. Roll through Saigon and you'll see hella (sadly, I've begun to use this word less and less. Can some folks from home start visiting so I can brush up on my Bay vocab?) folks ready to zip through red lights. Oh my 30km commute from home, it would happen on every red light. As the counter counts down, the engines start revving at 3 seconds left, and boom! - away they go.I guess there are some things I still need to learn. 

4 seconds is way too early apparently. The duo cảnh sát busted a U and pulled up next to me and I have my first run in with the law! 

Gone are the days of speaking only English and thinking you'll get away by appearing just so damn ignorant. The cops here (especially at night & on weekends) know that learning a bit of English will net them so much more when they pull over foreigners. 

He asked for my license and I gave to him. After about 8 or so times of looking at it, I can hear him telling his partner that it was fake as shit and he was going to impound my bike for 30 days. When he told me, I couldn't call Bullshit or else he'd call me on my bullshit! I just kept asking why why why why why and then he said, "okay. 500,000." One of the few times I was glad to be as broke as I did. I knew he'd settle for whatever he could get, so I busted out my wallet and showed him my 120,000VND lining my empty wallet. He chuckles to his partner and accepts my pittance. 

My last act of passive-aggressive defiance and I was off:

Obviously, I changed my name to Fuob Yso.

The next day, swagger mode was on full blast.

So, I haven't mentioned it much yet, but the company I work for is ILA (International Language Academy). One of the reasons this company was very appealing to me was because of their extensive community network (ILACN, of course). They're involved with several different orphanages and a cancer hospital around the area. Keeping true to my roots back home, I was drawn towards ILA and signed up for the various volunteer opportunities. Now, I have yet to actually get involved  because my work schedule overlaps with the times the group visits the youth, but this past Sunday was the annual charity fundraiser. 

All the proceeds went to a place out in Cu Chi that houses orphans and mentally ill children and adults. Hopefully it was enough for them to repair their kitchen roof and build a raised platform for the kitchen so the rain doesn't leave them without food when it floods. 

But another good thing about spending the night giving to charity? Make an ass of myself in an air guitar band competition! 

The prep:

Their costumes. I, of course, had my natural, long, luscious locks!

Our band leader practicing his solo

Getting our choreography down the day before.

The end result:

Posing with our only other competition after we won.
Good thing it was not costume based, but rather bias-based!
Pantera's Love Child ftw!

And of course, our terribly awesome/awesomely terrible performance:

My fellow band mate and coworkers
And what happens after the party? The after party!

14 (or so) snake line of Jager bombs. Cue "new haircut."
And here's how it worked:

And what happens after the after party? The karaoke party!

How most of my night was - a blurrrrrRRrr. 

My infamous headband making its rounds

Sarah trying to whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

My "night" ended at 6 a.m. and work of course starts at 8:30 a.m. The first time in my life I partied into the morning like that. Definitely not something I want to make a habit of. A bit awkward rolling home close to 7 a.m. with my aunt opening the gate wondering where I'd been. I'll admit though, my classes that day went better than most. I ran through most of the day on adrenaline from all the partying. Good times.


And I just finished going through the videos from karaoke. Apparently, I REALLY love "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." For my eyes only!


'til next


Friday, June 10, 2011

One week down

Dear diary,

It feels good to finally be busy. The 5 weeks following the completion of my CELTA drove me crazy(-ier??) by the day. Being cooped up 45minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city with no income was not the business. I'm glad it's all behind me now. 

The first week of my new job for the next who-knows-how-long just wrapped up and it was like I imagined it to be: messy. I don't understand how going through a CELTA course to receive a certificate in teaching to adults enables me to handle a dozen 6-11 year olds for 3 hours a day (some days, 6 hours!). I think I got progressively worse as a teacher as the days crept on. But, I'm not worried. Of course, there's the learning curve for a brand-spanking new teacher, plus, I'm still getting over a slump of being on slob mode for the past 5 weeks. I mean, who wants to spend time prepping when they could be out drinking 70¢ beers and listening to some live Diplo? 

I kid. I'll get better. This is what I came here for. Anyway, I'm enjoying the job (for the most part). The school I work for is pretty bad-ass. Specifically, my centre (look at that shit. I hang out with too many English people and it's rubbing off on me). We've got quite the assortment of characters here. I think more than half are from the UK, with a handful of Americans and a sprinkle of the random Aussie & Kiwi. I'll admit, I wanted to be at a different centre initially - the one I started training at because it was my home base, yo! I made friends with the people there and the students and I wanted to be back with them. But, since arriving at centre 5, I've been glad. We've got quite a decent number of teachers here (~30 vs. 60-100 at the biggest ones) and it's a lot more personable since everyone knows each other. That and this:

That's Kelly. I know teachers are supposed to be fair and all that shit, but dude..this girl is crazy. She barely level tested into this class I think and she's at the youngest end of the age admitted into this level. She's bright, but way shy. But that's not why I think she's dope:

Word searching like a boss.

Screw the rules, Kelly! You forge your own path and make them words however you damn well please, hah.
Then there's this girl:

Yup, that's right. I prefer to call my students by their proper Vietnamese name, but if they ask, I'll use their English names. This is one of those cases - Magic Milk. Her sister bestowed this English name unto her, and that's what she wrote on her name card, so I greet Miss Milk as such.

Also, I made one of the students cry the other day. I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but I'm sure teachers go through a few sometime over the course of the career. Let's not make a habit of it, tin.

Other than work, not much else going on yet. Random outings at night, practicing my Vietnamese with the TAs at work (with my Bac accent which, for some reason, they find extremely hilarious). Buncha racists...

Oh, did I mention I'm entered in a 4-person band/air guitar competition? More on this later!

'til next,