Every time I return from any trip, I feel as if I am stuck in this dichotomy of feeling like the trip was years ago but also feeling like it just happened yesterday. As I write this post, some things are so vivid in my mind while other memories are difficult to recollect. It’s hard to sum up all my thoughts and feelings of a jam-packed two weeks in a single blog post, so instead, I offer you my highs, lows, and buffalos (the random things that happened).
-the squish of mud between my toes while planting mangroves in the brackish water
-breathing in salty air for the first time in forever when stepping off the bus at the community mangrove site
-the easy laughter of the Cham women during an interview
-the hand pulled noodles, homemade dumplings, and the best chocolate croissants in Kampot
-the freshest and cheapest crabs I’ve ever had at the crab market in Kep and eating it with tamarind sauce and palm sugar juice
-Exploring the cathedral and abandoned places of Bokor in some of the thickest fog I’ve seen
-Thrift shopping in Chau Doc
A night of thrifting. Photo courtesy of Peter Wedell
-Phat, our wonderfully positive and strange (in the best way) Vietnamese translator
-Being in Can Tho and easily being able to envision myself as a student in this city
-The bubble tea culture in Vietnam!
-Eating a whole pineapple on a stick in the floating market
-The hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh and remembering what a city feels like
-Seeing the birds (especially the drongos), sun and moon bears, and hearing the gibbons in Cat Tien National Park
Asiatic black bear at the sanctuary in Cat Tien National Park. Photo courtesy of Peter Wedell
-My rat and leech encounters
-Learning about the grossly massive development in Bokor and going to see the development model that took up a whole floor
-Going to the very graphic (but also very important) War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City and realizing how everything I learned about the war in school was very U.S. biased to the point that it seemed like a completely different war than the war I was reading about in the museum → I’m still processing my experience here to be honest
-Realizing that pho, which is a slightly exotic delicacy in the U.S, is literally just a noodle soup in Vietnam.
-Going to karaoke in Can Tho with the whole group and listening to Phat sing happy birthday to one of the students for a solid 5 minutes
-Realizing that sidewalks are not just meant for pedestrians but also all vehicles. People will honk at you if you are walking on the sidewalk because you are in their way.
-Waking up at 6 am to go kayaking and realizing that none of the boats function quite as planned, while being a 30 minute paddle from the dock
-The feeling of home when coming back to the center and eating the cooks’ chicken satay (one of my favorite dishes)
Group photo at Cat Tien. Photo courtesy of Peter Wedell
Student Affairs Manager, Peter Wedell, soaking in Ho Chi Minh City