Monday, May 31, 2010

Halfway to Nowhere

I just took a left.  I was riding along one of the many roads that circle around the outside of the city and decided to go down a road I had passed by before.  An hour and a half later I was down out of the mountains and seeing signs for Ho Chi Minh City.  I had to decide between chancing the uncertain rumblings of the clouds ahead or to turn about and race the path home, potentially safe and dry.  I took a few pictures of the open grasslands surrounding me and sat alone on the bike and watched the clouds roll in.

One of the many joys of my time in Dalat was the weekly motorbike rides into the countryside, cruising along remote winding roads at 40mph.  I pass calmly through smalls towns and villages, pass by coffee fields, pass by flooded rice plots lined by banana trees.  I can feel the warm moist air rise up as I pass by the little family farms and then quickly the feeling subsides as I leave them behind.  Riding in the open air brings with it the aromas of the country.  Sometimes it's a pungent fish smell, sometimes it's wild mountain flowers and pine trees.  Up in the mountains here I feel as if the clouds are immediately atop of me.  They seem far closer than I've felt before, and appear far more detailed, and in being alone I feel as if they are only there for me.

There are so many roads that lead to so many places.  One of these days I'm going to just keep going, keep riding, follow the road and see what's around that last bend.  That time is not now.  I am going home and will be back in New York on the 3rd of June.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday, Well It's My Birthday Too, Yeah

I got flowers and toy motorcycle.  It was awesome.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cam Ly Waterfall

Cam Ly waterfall is one of the many that are situated in and around Dalat.  Cam Ly happens to be right in the city.  It's not the most spectacular waterfall, it does have one good view.  Otherwise the grounds surrounding Cam Ly are filled with fake animals (such as a horse painted to look like a zebra) and various other kinds of kitsch.  I wouldn't spend too much time here, but I paid it a visit anyway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Behold a Pale Horse

They show classic movies on the version of Cinemax I get in Vietnam.  The other day I watched a movie starring Gregory Peck called Behold a Pale Horse.  It was a black and white film starring Peck, Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharrif.  I love watching these old films, because they have nothing but the story to them.  Most of the movie takes place in a small room in Pau where Peck, a Spanish rebel and bandit, debates whether to go back to Spain to see his dying mother. The movie relies heavily on the story and acting for entertainment.  That's why I like to watch these old black and white films, because I like the stories, it makes me feel like I'm reading Hemingway.

The types of movies I get on cable here fall into one of three categories.  They are either big-name new releases, old classics and b-movies, or straight to cable movies which no one has ever heard of.  One example of the latter could be a movie named Mall, where a group of people are trapped in a flooding mall with an escaped serial killer trying steal some huge amount of money hidden in a mall vault.  I've seen this movie more than once. Mostly, I wonder how movies like this get funding.  When I do watch tv, I watch the oldies or the Discovery channel.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fish Hash

This had a really pungent smell.  It literally is a hash made from fish parts.  It tasted just fine.  I actually liked it once I got past the strong smell of ammonia when it was being prepared.  You mix it in with your rice and it adds a salty flavor to it.  Not even close to the strangest thing I've eaten here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Something Smells

Durian is in season.  As you walk up and down the street the aroma wafts through the air from these little street side stands, and you know it must be late Spring in Southeast Asia.  Durian is the fruit most known for its smell, which many akin to rotting dead bodies.  It smells bad enough to be banned on most public transportation here.  I have tried it.  It's not horrible, but I'm not bringing a bag full of durian home anytime soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Baseball

Sunny days are made for baseball.  I watch baseball most mornings at 6am, if I'm not teaching.  This is not the first time I've watched baseball overseas.  I watched a couple games in Spain a few years ago.  I been teaching a few of the locals to play catch.  They look terrified most of the time.  I think wherever I go I'll have to bring the game with me.  I think we have to; this game more than any other defines us.

The picture is of my cousin Brendan playing little league down in Texas.  Good focus, but he needs to keep his back elbow up in his stance.