i can already feel myself falling for this country. today on our bus ride to tam ky we passed through beautiful rice fields spotted with an few children flying kites. being white here, is like being a celebrity, especially in tam ky where we are literally the only westerners living in the city. girls, we get lots of cat calls & whistles. people are just jumping at the chance to say what couple english words they know, yelling "hello!" yesterday while sitting at the park, a parade of school children passed by flashing peace signs and giggling. one little boy dared to even try the phrase "what is your name?" and his entire group of friends burst into laughter.
today we woke up early to check out of the hotel and meet everyone over at the da nang gvn house for breakfast and a day long orientation. for two nights in a beautiful hotel i paid 20 dollars, which is probably above normal. in da nang they are more used to foreigners and like to rip them off. there in the lobby of the hotel i met the 4 canadians!! they're all very cool. there's patrick (kind of like a dark haired john smith with ponytail and all), cat (the vegetarian talkative sorta eclectic? one), rosie (a little shy but adorable), and danielle (kinda like me only maybe a little more serious). it was a little bit difficult to really get to know them today, partly because they are all friends at their university, but i know things will quickly get smoother. during orientation, they shoved a ton of information in our faces at once, but it was rewarding and helpful. mr. viet, the program leader, explained that the program is so important to him because during the war his father was killed and his mother developed a mental illness. he ended up in an orphanage for a year and so until his mother got out of the mental hospital and thankfully remembered about him. the vietnamese teacher at the end of our lesson was so cute, he taught us the six different tones and loved singing songs.
2:30, the local bus going from da nang to tam ky came by and we barely made it on. bus stops seem to sort of exist here, however you have to really yell and shout and sometimes pound on the side of the bus to make sure it stops. this was entertaining to witness on the 2 hour ride. i sat next to "kim," our translator living with us who speaks amazing english. getting off was like getting on. again, we barely made it. then when we stood by the road in tam ky to wait for a taxi, the motorbike taxi drivers attempted to convince us that they could take us. mostly they enjoyed flirting with our white skin. one pointed at me, nodded, pointed at himself, nodded, and said smiling, "white!" ha. we packed into a taxi somehow and arrived at the gvn tam ky house greated excitedly by four foot mrs. hanh, the cook here. the house is beautiful, high ceilings, all light blue, very clean, mattresses on the floor. somehow they arranged it so two girls would be with patrick and somehow i ended up being one of the two. but totally cool. i already love the city so much better -- there's more breeze, less traffic. mrs. hanhmade us a great dinner with delicious pine apple for desert.
carrie, from australia, has been here since november and is now working in tam ky as a teacher to fund her volunteering each month. her "boyfriend" (carl) whom she met here in vietnam is from england and doing the same sort of thing is here for another week. its great to have someone here who is experienced and knows what new things we can bring. she, danielle, kim and i went out for "coffee" later in the evening where we chatted about the program and why we were here (the rest had already fallen asleep at this point). and lastly, carrie invited danielle and i to join her and her "boyfriend" in going to visit mrs. hanh for some "bia." it was so fun biking and riding through the little allyway to her three room house. we sat and talked with her and her husband along w/ the neighborhood children who simply jumped all over kyle for the hour and a half. we rode back and here i am now, still sweating, at the computer with little white geckos scurrying about eating insects. tomorrow we will go to an orphanage in the morning, and i might be trying to plan a trip to hoi an with some other volunteers. we will see what happens! (hopefully i can get some pics up soon) love love love <3