Monday, April 7, 2008

Connect Four III

(PICTURE: Someone please buy that giant Connect Four board for me!!!)

Yesterday I received this email: "hi how are you lop lop ben? i am sorry i not send you email trea she given your email but i lost and i just get from her today,did you like there?take care lop lop ben from lana." 
Two things you should know:
1. "Lop Lop" means "crazy in the head" in khmer. 
2. This email is from the bartender I beat on the first Connect Four night in Cambodia. 

So, I wrote her back this:

"Who are you calling lop lop? You're the craziest girl in all of Cambodia. I'm forever going to have nightmares about your arms flailing in the air and trying to strangle me every time I beat you in Connect Four.

I really like Vietnam so far. The food here is better than Cambodia. However, nobody plays Connect Four here! I want to get better so I can play you 1:1 next time..."

Then I got this email reply last night:

"only you lop lop no body our ok do not need to ask me who i call lop lop.if you siad vietnam better than cambodia i think you do not like come cambodia again. why there no have connect four?do not need to play more you are good already."

Mom & Dad, I'd like to introduce you to your future daughter-in-law. 

My New Best Friend In Vietnam

The one highlight from Sunday was that I made a new best friend--the girl in the picture. She is the daughter of the row boat captain (what is the term for a person who pushes you in a row boat?) and probably the cutest little kid I have ever seen. She and I played a Vietnamese version of paddy cake for about thirty minutes. I tried to teach her thumb wrestling but she wasn't going for it. Instead she was a big fan of shadow puppets. She was totally mesmerized by my thumb-locked bird.

I just want to give a quick happy birthday shout-out to my favorite people born on April 7th--Seth and Shaps! It's been too long since we celebrated a birthday in Madrid. Speaking of birthdays, I just found out that when you are born in Vietnam you are considered 1 year old. So, in Vietnam I'm 29, not 28. That means I'm about to have my thirtieth birthday in seventeen days. What the hell! Hannah thinks I'm in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. Well if she is right, this is going to spiral me down to a new level of freaking out. I have about a ten page rant about this that I'll save for a blog closer to my birthday when it has proper time to marinate in my brain.

The Mekong

(PICTURE: Sunrise on the Mekong)

This past weekend I went down to the Mekong Delta for some R&R. Joining me was the usual crew of Ryan and Hien; or as Hien likes to say with a giant smile, "The three wheels." You see, we had a huge lost in translation moment over the last couple weeks. Ryan and I jokingly told Hien that she was our third wheel. Hien thought this was a huge compliment and was boasting to her friends, "I'm the third wheel!" Luckily for Hien this weekend we had a fourth wheel. My friend Kevin Rodin from LA gave his buddy Ashton my email since he was in HCMC this week for work. After a couple quick emails I invited Ashton to join our mini adventure down the river.
Hien booked the trip and we set out early Saturday morning. The trip could be broken into two parts: The Good And The Bad.
The good: Saturday was a great day. We got down to the Mekong around eleven and jumped aboard the first of many boats. We set sail for a little village where they made fresh cocount products. Free samples were passed out all around which satisfied me on two levels: 1) I like food. 2) I'm cheap. After being given a tour we jumped back on the boat and headed for a long journey to a little island for lunch. After a delicious meal which consisted of some huge weird looking river fish, we divided into small group and were rowed down narrow channels back towards our awaiting boat. We took another cruise, hopped back on the bus and were dropped off in a little town to wait for a large boat which we'd be sleeping on that night. Long story short we eventually got onto a nice river boat and spent the evening sitting on a roof, sipping on bad Vietnamese wine and listening to different tourists sing with varying guitar/vocal skills. It was a great day.
The bad: Sunday I was awoken at around 5AM by Hien. I went to the roof only to discover that sunset was at least an hour away. Finally it came and I snapped away a whole bunch of pictures. After that we grabbed breakfast and got off the boat. At this point it was around 8AM and the highlights of the day were over. For the next thirteen hours we were taken to a few bad tourist spots (one pagoda that felt like a Disneyland reject, a "fish farm" that was merely a whole in the floor where a thousand fish struggled to fight each other for food while stuck in a net, and finally a Cham village which seemed to only consist of a dozen pre-teens begging us to buy waffles). After that we got back on our main boat and set sail....for 7 FREAKING HOURS!!! Yes, 7 hours. Way too long. When the boat finally docked we got onto our shuttle bus to go back to HCMC. That was a nice simple ride...just FOUR FREAKING HOURS!!! And if that wasn't bad enough, I had a broken chair the whole way back. The chair spring/shocks weren't working so every bump the shuttle hit sent my chair flying forward and backwards. And believe me, there were a lot of bumps in the road. Ryan said it best when we got back to HCMC, "I'd rather fly from the USA to Asia again then do what we did today." It was that painful.
Anyway, it's good to be back in HCMC. I just finished my class for the night and my kids officially love me. They each took pictures with me after class and pleaded with me to go to a picnic with them on Saturday. The picnic sounds fun but they want to go at 7AM! Who picnics at 7AM!