We finished off in Vietnam well, hosting an environmental conference with about 60 Vietnamese students. I MC'd with Phat, the Vietnamese student who was our main guide/translator throughout the month, and our friend. We invited a couple of Vietnamese student groups to do short presentations of what they're doing to help the environment. New Years was wonderful, we went to this hotel party with a crazy show. There was a magician and a clown, also some dancing girls wearing bra tops and see through harem pants, who shook their breasts and did hip thrusts all over stage. We were all a little startled by that one. There was delicious food, and a million balloons in a net overhead, released at midnight. It was just really fun, dancing and hanging out. Afterwards almost everyone went to this Vietnamese club to continue dancing, which was incredibly fun. Phat and I were dance partners.
Next we went to Thailand, to live in bungalows on the beach for a week and learn to scuba dive. It was relaxing, and scuba was so cool. The day after we finished the course we rented kayaks and paddled around some coves and snorkeled. John and I basically swam over two sharks on a really shallow reef. There was a maybe four foot long one, then a smaller one following it. We passed them twice. I got pretty brown, and a few days later I started to peel. I looked like I had leprosy on my forehead.
Now we're at a collective experimental farm in Northern Thailand. It's so cold at night it blows my mind. Keep in mind I've been living in Southeast Asia for months, so it's not really all that cold by New England standards. We learned how to graft plants and identify trees in the agroforest, and went to a wedding between a Buddhist woman from one village and a Christian man from another. They did a lovely ceremony where the people in attendance give the couple a tiny sum of money (like, half a dollar) for good luck, then loop a string around their two wrists. By the end their wrists are completely bound.
Sorry I'm going through this so fast, it's just that I really need to do laundry soon so it will be dry by the time we leave tomorrow. I want to update my blog now though, because the internet is really patchy and may not be here later. If I can, I'll update more later.
We killed a pig! One of the farm workers knocked it out (which was by far the most traumatic bit of the process) by bashing it on the head with a large piece of wood. It started to seize which was scary, so everyone grabbed it and held it then Zach stabbed it in the heart. Afterwards we helped skin it, then cut it open and clean the organs and prepare the meat. We also tasted all the 'delicacies'- pig blood, pig skin, raw kidney, fried intestine, etc. It was pretty interesting, and tasted pretty good when we ate the cooked pork at dinner that night.
We're leaving tomorrow to start the two day journey to the mountains, to live with a hill tribe for three weeks. There won't be any internet, and minimal electricity. They are sustainable farmers, and also do orchid conservation. Apparently this is the season where they orchids are in bloom, so there are huge fields full of them. It sounds really amazing there. I'm very excited. I like what we're reading too- The Omnivore's Dilema. I recommend you all read it and get horrified about what we're eating. We've also watched a documentary that is a bit horrific, about our food. Also, I mistakenly started running a few days ago. Will I continue? Nobody knows. I didn't the past two days though, because we were pretty busy and I couldn't walk down the stairs I hurt so much. I can walk downstairs again, so I have no more excuses.
Anyway, I have to do my laundry or I won't have any clean underpants for ages.