Monday, January 20, 2014

Dong Nai Football Opening Day

Last week I got an irresistible proposition: opening day of the Dong Nai Football Club.

It provided several very fun firsts: my first chance to visit a different province for fun and pleasure, my first ever FIFA soccer (no... football!) match, and my first "extended" motorbike trip.

People come and go so fast when you're traveling... when you're planted in one place, it's easy to miss all the people that are spending less time there than you. The possibilities seem endless when you have a set amount of time ahead of you. The trick is to avoid that sense of complacency and make the most of every moment - something that doesn't always come easily to my introverted nature.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My 2014 New Year's Resolutions

A funny reminder that no one's perfect. Resolution time!
[Edit: hey, check out how I did on these goals in my 2014 Post-Mortem!]

Hello, my friends. Again, welcome to 2014!

What a crazy, wild year it's been. Not just for me, either, it seems - I've seen many, many social media updates marking what an exciting year it's been for my family and friends.

In 2013 I completed a TEFL certificate, moved to Vietnam, started (and maintained, in possibly the biggest surprise of the year!) a personal travel blog, and started a new job in a new field. I've been medically stable and, besides a few speedbumps due to a new climate and environment, am in fairly good health. My 30's are kicking ass and taking names so far. Here's to keeping that momentum for next year!

With the new year comes the Western tradition of New Year's Resolutions. As I look to the next few years of my master plan, I've come up with the following list of things I want to work on this year. Some are already underway, and some will take more work, but all of them are goals that I have for 2014.

Go big or go home...!


Hello Friends!

Happy New Year... Chuc Mung Nam Moi! 

Caught in a netherworld between two New Years (Tet is the beginning of the Lunar Calendar) as I am, I find myself with "more time" to reflect upon my journey thus far. Not only my personal milestones and accomplishments, both big and small, but also those things that I haven't quite conquered yet. In short, tons. 2014 is going to be even crazier!

I'll be posting irregularly (hopefully at least 1-2 times a week) for the next few weeks as I prepare for all that 2014 has in store for me. With multiple trips, a new contract or two, several guests, and a trip home all happening this year, it's going to be non-stop drama and action! I want to start off on the right foot.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my favorite blog posts of last year! These were the ones I wrestled with, the ones that crawled up out of the swamp and tried to drag me back under, but then I went for the eyes, knocked 'em in the palatal valve, and made idea trophies from their heavily edited, excessively toothy carcasses.

In roughly chronological order...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ho Chi Minh City's "Flea Market"

Over at the First World Mall of Wonders, otherwise known as Crescent Mall in District 7, there is a pop-up flea market that happens every Sunday.

Before Kasia left Saigon to travel around SE Asia (lucky, lucky woman!), we visited this little shindig looking for a couple specific things. It was relaxed and generally very nice, if a bit generic at times. It was very crafty. I did pick up a few really great things though, including some fun presents to send home for my (very late) Christmas box.

Click through for pics from a (surprisingly, for this time of year!) rainy morning at the flea market!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saigon Sights: The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Recently, I visited a place I told myself I'd never go again. On my previous excursion, it was the most depressing zoo outside of Minnesota (looking at you, Little Falls, MN): the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. And here I was again, ready for round two.

We weren't even supposed to be there!

But, alas, the History Museum was on naptime lockdown (sigh. I feel I'll never get used to that) for an hour and a half, and, with no where else to go, my friend Kasia and I ventured into the zoo next door to take some pictures, stroll around, and generally be snarky and judge-y about the whole thing. We'd both been there before, and, unlike her, I wanted to return to capture the sad on my upgraded camera. We were both afraid of being bummed out, but with nothing else to do, we reluctantly drifted in.

What a shock we had. Merely four months ago, this place was a decrepit wonderland of depression. Animals were skinnier and more despondent, attendance was lower, and it felt kind of run down. This time, admission prices had doubled (from a scant 6000 VND to a slightly less scant 12000 VND, or about .60 cents USD), the grounds had been given a makeover, several new habitats were under construction, and there were people! People everywhere! The most exciting animal in the park!

Continue on to see a few of my favorite pictures and my suggestion for a plan...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tropical Santa Cosplay Time

Every year my dad dresses up to play Santa in his Illinois town. This year, to my general dismay, I joined his taste in santa-wear and dressed up as the jolly man himself (Santa, although my dad's pretty jolly, too!) to bring guava and yoghurt flavored candy to the children of Song Lo Primary School.

Let's just say that it was real, real hot, and that they should wash that santa suit after I sweat all over it. This is not a forgiving climate for wearing fur!

Also, check out my ridiculous sandals. Santa went tropical this year. Forget that boots nonsense: when Santa is in Rome...!

At left is a picture of me with my cooperating teacher (the regular English teacher, who magically becomes my TA when I'm there). She's really great, and we have good first grade classrooms together. They're sometimes so smart it's scary!

Click through for a photo album of Santa's trip to Phu Nhuan District...