I met Jon in Saigon on Thursday evening after a ride in a government car which bypassed the lines at the ferry. It was actually too cold for me in the car and therefore I didn’t sleep well at all. I was riding with a friend that I met through teaching at the department of agriculture and rural development; he was going to Germany for two months to study. He dropped me off at the hotel and then I ran up to a room and ordered a pizza.

Jon arrived later with longer hair wearing a sweatshirt. The next morning we ate pho for breakfast and eventually, after some difficulties were worked out with the airplane tickets, got on the flight to Thailand.

We arrived in Bangkok and met our CRs at the airport and then started the long ride down to the town of Cha-am, where are hotel/resort was. It was on a highway system similar to the interstate system in America, except people drove on the left, which really messed with my mind. I realized that evening that I hadn’t been on the beach in nine years and just spent a lot of time staring out into the waves. There were many interesting people at the retreat, and it was good to see Ben and Alisa again. Time at the resort passed by quickly and then on Monday morning we were headed back to Bangkok. Bangkok is a heavily modern city of six-lane highways, and then raised tollroads above that. A city of skytrains and subways. A city where I could find McDonalds.

Jon and I had arranged to stay and extra night in the city and so we tried a taxi, but that just left us stuck in the traffic. We then opted for the skytrain. Eventually we found a hotel and ordered a pizza. However, we were so exhausted around dinner time that we just nodded off. We woke up later and wandered around to find a live band playing classic rock, which really lifted my spirits.

The next day we woke up, packed, and then went to McDonald’s, something that I had been looking forward to. It wasn’t quite as good as what I remembered from the states, but it was okay. However, on the flight back to Saigon and then the bus ride back to Long Xuyen my stomach was feeling very odd (so I’ll just blame it on McDonald’s).

I received some bad news from a couple friends in the states today, and now my mind is on them. I’m so out of the loop here and isolated that news just takes forever to reach me. I’d feel helpless if I was there, but being here just makes me feel all the more helpless.

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