Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Cube

I saw the inside of a Rubix cube today and it was something magical.

No, I can't solve a Rubix cube, but I can do the top two layers most times I try. :)

Fireworks day 2: We watched from the top of our house and the view was great! We didn't get the pyrotechnics near the water, but we got whatever they shot into the sky. Yesterday when we were significantly closer, we didn't get the fireworks, either.

Today was a Saturday like we haven't had in a while. We slept in until 7am and didn't have work in the morning or the evening.

That's it folks.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A holiday kind of day

We didn't have to teach tonight because of the International Fireworks Competition.

So we got up at 6:00am (Eric) and 6:15am (me) and left to go running by about 6:50am. Contacts in, face washed, teeth brushed and all stretched out. We were sweating as we were tieing up our shoes in our entry way. It was humid!

We decided to walk today instead of run. So we walked just over the length of a free Dave Ramsey podcast.

I took a significant nap. I'm not sure why I was so tired. Possibly the late night before and the early morning. And the heat. That'll do it to you. This afternoon I returned to my Spanish-studying and decided I wanted to start learning the past tense, or in Spanish, they have two 'past simple' tenses: preterite and imperfect. Now I can say things like: Ayer, yo no hable espanol con Eric.

The sun went down, as it does, around 6pm and Eric took a very short nap. While he was sleeping, my phone vibrated. It was my landlord.
LLL: Karissa, where are you?
Karissa: I'm at home.
LLL: Why don't you go to the fireworks?
Karissa: We are. But they start at 8pm, so we'll go then.
LLL: Okay. Mr Dung (pronounced yoong) says that you should lock your doors. Tonight is a night when robbers come.
Karissa: Okay. We'll do that. Thanks.
LLL: Bye.

Now, we always, always lock our doors. As far as we know/can tell, we are the only white people anywhere near our neighborhood. We stick out like snowman in the dessert (It's the first analogy that came to mind). Our house is huge compared to most in our neighborhood, and our schedule is fairly consistent.

We do have two doors upstairs--like a screen door and wooden door. Except the screen door doesn't have a screen and it's bars--a safety thing. And we lock it, and our front door, with a U-lock. We keep the wooden door open to allow for some air circulation during the day. You can imagine that the fifth floor of our house gets hot and stuffy.

We left for the fireworks just after 7. We shared the streets with 10s of thousands of people. It was loud, but not overwhelming. It was busy and full, but percentage of people smoking was way, way lower than any coffee shop, so the smell wasn't bad at all. And the Han Bridge. Well, swarms of people kept walking onto it, so we joined them. But once it was so packed the crowd wasn't moving, we turned around.

We ended up meeting a couple from England who had heard about the competition earlier that day. Interestingly, England is one of the five country participants. When you share the day with the royal wedding, it's hard to get any media coverage.

The first country's fireworks we watched from the road. The second set we watched for a 3rd story foodcourt (eating amazing, cheesy, risotto) and most of the third country's display we were walking back home.

Fireworks are all the news here. I'm going to google this royal wedding. I've heard her tiara was something to talk about.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Italy, China, South Korea, England and Vietnam: What do they have in common?

We teach every Friday night, every Saturday morning and every Saturday evening.

It's not our favourite.

But this weekend we have both Friday night and Saturday off!

We've been asked for the last several months by Vietnamese friends: You know about the fireworks?

We do. Since 2008, our city, Da Nang, Vietnam, has hosted an international fireworks competition over the Han River. Incidentally, we live just one alley away from the river.

Now, while this isn't a national holiday or anything (we're not celebrating Vietnamese freedom from the American's or Ho Chi Minh's birthday or death day), we do get the fireworks days off from work. Friday and Saturday.

For two reason:

1) The traffic will be so incredibly bad and congested we won't want/be able to be out. A few roads and the main river-crossing bridge will be closed to motorized vehicles from 5pm on each night.
2) Students won't come to class. The fireworks happen during our regularly scheduled Friday evening and Saturday evening class times.

Friday night we plan to watch from our roof. Our fifth floor is half inside (laundry room) and half outside (balcony). We're probably two kilometres from the the show, but only a few hundred yards from us is where the road closes. Our second day location will depend on how good our view is Friday night.

We could buy tickets and sit on the HUGE bleachers they've set up along the river. (I just have to say that my previous sentence has two prepositions in it--prepositions that I taught last night to my elementary class). Tickets range from 200,000 to 600,000VND, so $10-30USD.

There are several reasons I haven't even considered getting a ticket.

1) Don't know how to, or where to or when to. A friend who is watching the fireworks from a boat (the fireworks go off over the river) said she bought her tickets DAY OF. Unless I'm buying from a scalper, I don't understand this day of ticket purchase thing.
2) 200,000VND (well, 400,000 really) is a lot out of our monthly budget.
3)The closer we are, the louder it will be. Oh, I can handle a national anthem and loud banging and popping and sizzling. But in this country, as I have come to understand, noise pollution doesn't exist. Horns honking (or blasting as they pass you, in some cases), neighbors singing karaoke all day long, and the Big C grocery store music game (in the grocery store: stand in one place and try to count how many different songs you can hear over the PA system. Lauralee counted at least 3).

It is loud here.

There will be 12 famous Vietnamese singers/artists performing. I had a hard enough time with the decibel level in a couple of Vietnamese church services I've been to. I can't imagine what it will be like when they want tens of thousands of people to hear the music.

That was a long reason.

So we now have a four day long weekend. Our regular weekend is Sunday and Monday. Any thoughts on what we should do?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

try this link

The link doesn't work for the youtube about Shine. Try this one:

Shining in Vietnam: Efforts in trafficking prevention

Where's Karissa? Not hard to spot. I'm big and white and in the middle of the photo. :)

Our last Shine evening ( was Monday night. We had graduation at one of two American restaurants (Bread of Life--a "project" employing deaf youth) in our city (the other being KFC). We had marble and coffee cakes and banana bread. All 12 girls were there and we presented them with certificates, a rose and The 5 Love Languages, in Vietnamese (a topic we covered one evening).

A youtube clip about Shine in our city of Da Nang. (yes, watch it, it's just two minutes and I made it into the video) :)

We taught Shine each week in English with a translator. All the girls spoke intermediate to advanced English, but of course were more comfortable with speaking in Vietnamese when talking about feelings and stuff. Their evaluation forms were filled out in Vietnamese, so it may take a while to get those translated before we can share many stories of what the girls learned or thought about Shine.

I have one story to share. One of our translators, Thanh, (front row, blue dress)talked to one of the girls at the graduation and here is Thanh e-mailed us:

"Last nite, while we talked each other , I had time to chat with Suong - one of participant. I asked her that how you felt about this course. She said that before when she heard her friend invite her to come this course, she didn't want to come. But when she know that this course help her the way how to make up and look after her skin, she changed her mind and decide to come. And then she really enjoy this course. She said that she really like the session that have the ice breaker "I'M STAR". After this session, she sticked this sheet on the wall in her bedroom so that every morning when she wake up, she look at it and feel that how valuable she is. This means a lot for her life, especially in this time because she have many trouble now.

When I heard this, I feel so happy and really appreciate your team because what all you can do to show your love to these girls out there. -Thanh

We are very restricted as to what we can do in Vietnam in regards to share our faith, but we can share truth, just avoiding all references. Truth is truth and we believe that the H/S is working in these girls' lives.