Me and my friend Max. I’m the ninja. Halloween was great. I got lots of candy.
About three weeks ago we learned that the government was working through internet service providers to block WordPress. A week ago or so, we began to experience strange internet problems with certain sites; no real rhyme or reason to it. But we did notice that WordPress was not working at all. This very well may have been typical down time in a developing country. We worried however, that we would lose this means of sharing with family and friends so I quickly created a new blog (a parallel universe of sorts) at:
This will be our new address and we hope we do not lose many of you in the move. The strange part is that we suddenly have access to everything once again (allowing us to post this!). To be on the safe side however, we are going to start posting on the blogspot site. I am sorry to complicate your lives and we appreciate all of you who have been following and commenting.
See you at the new blog!
We saw a lot of cool animals at Phu Quoc. This is a lizard. It looked like it has a mane. I saw it on a tree at the resort.
I saw a long, tall and skinny cricket. It tried to push away the first time. The second time, it pushed away and I had to drop it.
We saw a large, long gecko on a tree. It was the same tree that was in the first picture of this story.
These are sharks and one sting ray. We saw them at a restaurant.
I saw a stag beetle. It hissed at us. All of my friend Evan’s family and my family said for me to get away. But I didn’t. I poked a stick at him and he hissed at me again. I think that it was mean but pretty cool.
My brother found a centipede in the swimming pool. I told him to get it out of the pool with his flipper but he said, “No, you do it!”. Then I said, “No, you do it.” Then, with the help of both of us, we both used flippers and we waved them up and down and the centipede went away from us and we kept doing it until it was in the shallow end. Then we scooped it up and put it on the cement and I touched it and my brother put his hand next to it. It feeled very smooth.
We saw a snake at the resort. It was not just an ordinary snake. When a guy walked by, the snake hissed at him. My papa was scared of the snake, but I wasn’t.
This is a picture of squid that a fisherman caught. I was with my friend Evan, looking at them. They felt smooth and smelled gross ’cause every seafood smells gross.
Evan and I were looking for fish and we saw a crab too and lots of snails. And do you know what? When the snails closed, first they sucked their gooey stuff in, then a little marble thingy covered the gooey stuff. One of them crawled up my dad’s leg but we took it off and put it with our collection of Marble Snails.
And all the animals were really, really cool. The End.
We organized a tour of the island to see what there was to see. We began with a “tour” (walk around yourself and be careful not to trip over the tubing all over the ground) of the fish sauce factory. This is where we came up with a possible new tourism slogan: Vietnam: It tastes a lot better than it smells. It was very interesting to see the huge, brown-red wooden vats filled with salt and fish that were holding this smelly stuff. It is delicious and we tried to bring some back in our suitcases but I was paged at the airport (“Sterling Michelle please come to the check-in counter.”) and asked to remove it. Lauren heard it is because if it were to break open I’d make a lot of enemies. They did, I should report, allow me to bring my water bottle on the plane because “you have babies.”
Our tour then took us to a pepper plantation (Phu Quoc is famous for its fish sauce and pepper). The pepper grew in this tall shrub-trees (I’m not a botanist). It was amazing to pick the green pepper seeds and taste them. They had an amazing citrus-pepper taste and smell and grew in bunches like tiny grapes.
The last sight we were taken to was an area of the national park (most of the island is a national park at this point) where we could hike to a small waterfall. It was beautiful and Lauren and Colin jumped right in and swam in the cool water. Good times.
On our second to last day we hired a boat…
…and spent the day snorkeling. Many of the spots we stopped had a very Gilligan’s Island feel to them. The first spot was not that great and much of the time we were in the water the sky was a dark gray and it was pouring down rain. No fun getting all wet when you’re snorkeling! The second spot was fantastic and the sun came out. We saw beautiful reef fish and were thrilled that both Colin and Trevor were so enthusiastic about it.
When we got back we docked at a fishing pier, surrounded by light blue fishing boats, many with huge light bulbs around the top, used for squid fishing. OK, spending 2 hours on blog posts is maybe a bit excessive. I’ll work with Colin to post one more installment, then I’ll get to work.
We had a great time exploring this soon-to-be-developed island for our fall break last week. There are plans for an international airport, much improved (paved) roads and a casino, so we got there in time to enjoy the more quiet, peaceful chapter in this island’s history. We began our trip with a 50-minute trip on a small Vietnam Airlines prop plane.
We arrived at the Eden Resort shortly thereafter and were amazed at the incredible gardens…
…and beautiful pool, right on the beach. It was cloudy much of the time but always warm and it was fun to watch the storms roll in and out and the turquoise fishing boats moving back and forth in the Gulf of Thailand.
We then headed out to the night market where we ran into some friends and enjoyed a delicious seafood meal on the street, followed by a delicious treat being sold by this woman off the back of her bike. On a thin cookie she put this taffy-like candy which she dipped in powdered sugar and pulled and stretched to fit the cookie. Then she used a bottle cap to shred some coconut, put that on and drizzled sweetened condensed milk over the whole thing, topping it off with a second thin cookie. Good and Good For You!
Our second morning in Sabah, Borneo, we woke up at 5:30 to hike a baby mountain with a good view of Mount Kinabalu. My favorite things were the layers of clouds around and below us as we hiked, the way the students seemed to be walking over the edge of the earth in front of me as we descended, and eating my first passion fruit off the tree as we walked back toward camp. (Passion fruit juice is my new favorite.) By 7am, we were slurping down two kinds of stir fried noodles and drinking hot tea. Oh yum.
We took this photo of our first breakfast on the sidewalk in front of our hotel back in July
and I thought it would be fun to share. The boys have loved pho from the first time they tried it. Trevor gets his with beef, like Mike and me, and Colin gets his with no meat. None of us chooses chicken. There’s always a plate of herbs and bean sprouts and chilis to add to the soup. You can also see our first cup of Vietnamese coffee, which drips into your cup of condensed milk in a slow, intense way. Delicious. The other cup has iced tea in it, which often comes instead of water at restaurants. It’s green or jasmine tea and not sweetened.
I’ve been back from Sabah, Borneo for a few weeks now and thought I’d put up the Kundasing War Memorial photos first. I had never heard of the death march of the British and Australian POWs during World War II. Of 2500 POWs originally interned by the Japanese when they occupied Borneo, only 800 were left at the end of the war when the Japanese soldiers marched them overland through the jungle with no food or water to Kundasing in the mountains. Only 6 men survived this march. I was moved to learn about the bravery of these British and Australian soldiers and saddened by the brutality of humans against one another.
We went on a shopping spree for plants with the head gardener from SSIS. We ended up with over 40 plants including a large palm tree, some bamboo, and three beautiful orchids.
It was a lot of fun and the guys working on it worked really hard. One thing that is strange is how many of the plants we see commonly as indoor plants in the US grow like crazy outdoors here. Now, if the rain will just stop, we can have dinner outside tonight. Not likely.
I was invited by the parents of a child in my class to an event hosted by the Korean Consulate at the Intercontinental Hotel in town. It was a celebration of National Foundation Day (celebrating the creation of the Korean State over 4000 years ago). It was predictably over-the-top. 11 chefs were flown in from Seoul to cater the event so the food was amazing. Long speeches by delegates from Vietnam and S. Korea expressed the growing business relationship between the two countries. I kept finishing my wine and there was this woman next to me who worked at the consulate kept saying “No. Another toast coming.” and got me more wine. It was an honor to be included and a great cultural experience. The photo is me with my hosts. The mom is in traditional Korean dress.