Well it has been an interesting first week!
I made it! 26 hours on 3 planes, 15 hours waiting in 3 airports all on 2 hours of sleep...I slept 12 hours once I finally arrived in DaNang, Vietnam.
The traffic is a little much… crazy, chaotic, and definitely part of the charm of this country.
DISCLAIMER: My blog platform doesn't spellcheck and so if I have a few errors, I apologize in advance. I have read through this 10 times and still see them after I hit post.
So what have I learned so far?
We lets just say food is a bit different here. Pho (learn more) is a breakast food...and lunch...and dinner. It is delcious but can be a bit spicy. If you are back home in South Florida chefck out Pho 46 in Hollywood. If you are back in the hometown of Pickens, SC check out the Pho and More in the old Kmart shopping Center. I have tried both places and highly recommend. We have found different countries foods here too and so far so good! I did manage to cook a few things too in our bright green kitchen and we are off to a good start. Found the LotteMart- like Walmart and a close neighborhood market and feel pretty good about the food situation...especially with the bars and restaraunts nearby.
Marble Mountain. It is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngũ Hành Sơn District, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam. The five mountains are named after the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it is possible to climb to the summit of Mount Thuy. Several Buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains, making this a tourist destination. (learn more)
It was beautiful and peaceful. It is the rainy season here in Vietnam so we did get rained on, but that is better than the alternative...mosquitoes!
Dragon Bridge and Son Tra Night Market
On the weekends you can see the Dragon come to life! It was another wet but amazing experience. The market was full of amazing sites and smells. They have a food vendor section with local delicacies, like fresh caught and prepared seafood, dumplings, pork on a stick, tacos, rolled ice cream, and many more foods. The market has spices, clothing, toys, and souvenirs for everyone. We will be going back to take a boat ride and watch the dragon before we leave! (learn more) I was especially excited about the bridge because my cousin Tula loves dragons and I got to send her videos.
Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge
The cable car up to the Bridge reminded me a lot of Jurassic Park and I was on the lookout for pterodactyls. This may have to do with watchin the new movie on the plane coming over or it could just be the way my overactive imagination helped my brain deal with the height of the cable car going up the mountain!
The bridge is a gorgeous site, the gardens were amazing as well, and the whole thing is breathtaking...and then the rain and fog rolled in obscuring the view. But the beauty was still there and I think it made everything more mysterious.
Another short cable car ride up led to what I would describe as a "Harry Potter world" in the sky. I wish my cousin Ally was here to see it. We ate a delicious buffet of Asian foods, walked through the French village, and explored the arcade. Stephanie would have loved the sushi bar. We had two little girls from India on our tour who ate their weight in sushi and wanted more but their dad said no more.
They have free amusement park rides and low cost games. They had a dinosaur exhibit which fit my Jurassic theme and I was able to send my cousin Ki some videos because he loves dinos. And they had massage chairs that I am told are completely worth the trip. Not gonna lie, I did turn around and not explore some parts of the village because the fog was so heavy you couldn't see 10 ft in front of you.
Spooky but fun! (learn more)
My Khe beach and An Thoung
We have found an apartment near the famous My Khe beach (learn more). We are in an ExPat community here with restaurants and people from around the world. Originally I wanted to be closer to my school base, but after visiting this location I was hooked. There is a British tea house, Windsor Tea House, around the corner where we met a couple of teachers and enjoyed scones and quiche. SOOO good! I wish mom was with us because she has always wanted to go to high tea and this is the place! The beach is a couple blocks in front of our location and it is a beautiful location. You can see the Lady Buddha (learn more) and I watched the surfers while enjoying a coke!
While back home in South Florida is preparing for a hurricane we also had a storm pass here. Typhoon Noru came ashore Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. It was a little unnerving approaching the storm not knowing what to expect, especially since we were so close to the beach. However the locals we met at our hotel, then our apartment, and on our tours all were calm and said it would not be as bad as what we get at home. And they were right. The waves were HUGE, the rain poured down, and the wind was really strong…but overall not a big deal. Some tree limbs fell on our street, parts of the tattoo shop sign came down, but the neighbors ladder is still on their balcony. I posted updates every 2 hours on social media so my family would know what was happening because they were a little worried. Got a few new followers from that ;). You might even see my name on CNN since a reporter reached out for permission to use my images and asked a few questions about my stay here. You know me...always willing to share.
You can follow me @penchevable on Twitter and Instagram to see what is happening daily!
And now to the whole reason I came to Vietnam, my research with Fulbright. I met Monday with my advisor here in Vietnam and toured her school. Some things about school are the same as back home, like cute kids in uniforms, and some things are different, like 2 hour rest breaks after lunch where kids K-12 take naps. I am all for this! I am excited to observe classes and learn more about the teachers and students. I have been asked to help them look at their STEM and tech work and I am excited about that! I am reaching out to more teachers and schools around Vietnam to hopefully find more places I can visit. If you have any ideas or connections here, please let me know!
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Met Saturday-ish with the Fulbright group. It was midnight my time and the internet cut out at the end but I feel much stronger about what I am doing here and what I need to work on.
I have been reading articles and research about SAMR model (learn more) and tech integration to build up my personal understanding. This is my framework for what I am hoping to observe and connect to what I am seeing here. My ultimate goal is to create a blog or website…something…that connects teachers across the world with technology tools that can be integrated in their classrooms in thoughtful and meaningful ways. I am still figuring out the details, but I am excited to see where this goes! I will be posting more info in the coming weeks about how teachers around the world can contribute to this project and help each other. We are all better together … and now I am humming Luke Combs (learn more) which will surprise no one who knows me. I did get tickets for Tampa in July before hopping on the plane!
It has been an exciting week and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Most pictures are courtesy of my husband Konstantin. He is an excellent photographer!