My first Kiva Fellows Blog was posted today.
Please visit http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2009/06/22/close-to-home/#more-5235 if you want to see video from my journey thus far…and feel free to leave questions/comments if you wish!
And now, as promised – here’s an update about the week!
The train ride
Well my 3.5 hour train ride from Hanoi to Thanh Hoa was quite a journey – with some difficulties brought on by myself. To begin, I brought luggage entirely too large for the train. I blame my mom for sending me off with loads of “American” toothpaste and shampoo for the family. “Don’t they have shampoo in VN?” you ask. “Yup- they sure do.” 😦
And to make matters worse, I ended up on the wrong train and had to lug the heavy luggage to the other end. 😦
After finally settling into my seat, I looked up and suddenly saw rice paddies – in all shades of green (the color change was stunning), and women wearing the traditional cone hat, usually cliche, but in this setting – beautiful. Hundreds of people working in the fields, and yes, water buffalo too!!
The Food Corner
The street where I am living is full of dogs. If you know me, you know I am deathly afraid of critters of all sorts, including dogs. Now, these particular dogs look like they have Rabies. Seriously. Unfortunately, that is the only shot that I failed to get before leaving. 😦
More difficult than avoiding dog bites in this part of town, is avoiding the consumption of dog meat. Yes, it is stereotypical, but this area of Thanh Hoa is well known for its specialty – dog. I believe I have managed to avoid it – but you can never be sure.
In other food news – everything here comes with the head attached. I accidentally ordered bird soup (don’t ask why) and was served an entire bird. UgH – Well, since then I’ve learned to say “Khong Dau” meaning “No head.”
I had my first training session at work and to my surprise, a microphone was passed around and everyone had to sing a song. Karaoke. SO embarrassing!! They refused to begin the meeting until everyone sang. See the video clip below for proof! p.s – if you think it’s me singing, think again!
It is hot and humid!
Since I have yet to succumb to wearing long gloves during the summer time (like the ladies do here to avoid tanning their skin), I am getting quite a nice tan. As a result, people here are now convinced that I am from Laos. They refuse to believe that I am Vietnamese. I’m mistaken for Chinese in America and Laotian in Vietnam. Can’t a girl get a break?!?
I go on my first borrower visit this week – please check out the blog next week to meet some of the women entrepreneurs who have taken out loans from the Thanh Hoa Fund for Poor Women!
I miss you all loads and hope the summer is going fabulously! P.S. please send me your mailing address when you get a chance. :