Gathering my thoughts to write about my experiences of the last three months here in Thai Binh is going to be a bit like herding cats, I’m afraid. My memory of it is a jumbled, frantic mess. I wish I’d taken more notes about my teaching experiences, but honestly, who had time? Usually after a long day of classes I’d be so exhausted I’d just lie in bed and surf the internet for anything to take my mind off things so I could sleep. Maybe it’ll take some time before I’m really able to reflect on it, anyway. I tend to gravitate toward good memories. Who wants to dwell on the bad stuff? Plus, once you’ve got through all the hard parts, whatever sense of urgency or panic, anger, frustration, loneliness or inadequacy you were confronted with at the time is no longer at the fore. Then, you can think back, learn your lessons from it all and move on.
I will write at some point about certain memories….certain kids I’ll always remember….. maybe even certain kids I’d like to forget….. But, that’ll take a while to put into writing and I still have classes to teach, tests to prepare, etc., etc….. In the meantime, I’ll post a few pictures I’ve taken here, there……..
……and up. Now, this picture is photoshopped a bit. I wanted to highlight the contrasts. But, I’ve got to say, it’s not far from the reality. The skies here are phenomenal. It’s something you don’t really see in the city. Too many buildings, too much smog. Sometimes I’d find myself in class, looking out the window at the sky especially in the afternoon as it turned toward evening. I’d tell the kids what I was looking at in the hopes they’d remember to appreciate what beautiful skies they have here.
Walking home from the store the other day I was bowled over by the delicious scent coming from this citrus tree. I love, love, love the scent of citrus flowers. It was a small tree and kind of reminded me of the kumquat tree growing by the front door at my friend Lin’s house when we were in high school. This might actually be a kumquat or a lime tree. I wonder if that kumquat tree is still there…….Lin?
Between classes I like to go outside, take a breath and get mentally ready for the next class. One morning after a particularly rainy night, I was standing under the shade of a tree and noticed these little fungi growing on it. I determined to get my camera after class and go back and take a picture. They’re so delicate and looked almost aquatic. With so much water in the air here, maybe they are ……a bit.
This street is paved with marble tile….and so are the sidewalks. I love marble and it just sort of blows me away. Marble is everywhere here. I’ve actually picked chunks of it up off the street. How am I going to get all this marble back home….? One more thing – the coffee shop at the end of the street belongs to a fellow teacher and her husband. Her name is Nhung and I’ve grown to like her very very much. She is a sweetheart and funny, too! She even actually gets some of my jokes, which is a rarity here!
In my first post about Thai Binh I placed a picture of a large reservoir I called ‘The Fishing Hole’. These water lilies are growing in it.
From the bus window as I’ve traveled between Thai Binh and Hanoi, I’ve seen water lilies even larger and more beautiful than these but, being that I was zooming by in a bus, I’ve been unable to take any pictures of them. But, these ain’t too shabby…..
This is a very common sight in the more undeveloped parts of small cities and even in Hanoi. Just an old house overgrown with plants – most commonly morning glories. It’s funny – Thai Binh is actually one of the wealthier provinces in Viet Nam. There is construction everywhere and homes fit for royalty, as far as I’m concerned. Yet, I find those places very boring and even somewhat ‘cookie-cutter’ in a Vietnamese sort of way…. I find a scene like this intensely beautiful and it always makes me wonder at the history of it.