I consider this to be a typical story about the ups and downs of life here at AGU, in Long Xuyen, and in Vietnam. Yesterday I cam home from class around 5 p.m. The weather was extremely hot and sticky, and I was looking forward to cranking up the A/C and listening to some music and just chilling/mellowing out. So I wearily climbed up the stairs to my room, and opened it, to an eerie silence. There was no power. I uttered some curse words under my breath and put my bag down, changed into some shorts and laid down on the sofa. It was too hot and sticky. There was no air movement whatsoever. I opened my door to try and get a breeze. But it was only hotter outside. Tyler and I bummed around and ate some unhealthy dinner, and the power was still out. I was sweating. A lot. And I was meeting students with Lillian in a few minutes. I decided on a quick shower. It was cold, and I’m used to using my electric water heater. When I came back later that evening, the power was on and I turned on the A/C to cool down.

Also, a few months ago we had internet problems at the guesthouse. Hendrik and I fixed it one night after scrounging around for parts in the kitchen and my closet, but it worked, and has continued to work all this time (it was held to the wall with tape). The disadvantage of our new system is that it limited the number of rooms with internet access to seven. Then we got a new volunteer here, and of course, her room had no internet for at least a week or so. We were waiting and waiting for someone to buy and/or install some equipment to get the internet service back up to normal standards. Then this morning, out of the blue, someone installed wireless internet in the guesthouse, and our new volunteer now has internet now. As we were celebrating this success of both wired and wireless internet, the internet suddenly stopped working…

Things are on, then they’re off. Things work, then they don’t. Things get done, followed by no progress at all. A typical story of Vietnam.


I came home from teaching this morning about 11 and Buong, my cat, was sleeping in a chair. He must’ve thought I was dirty and/or smelled bad, because he jumped up on the desk and started giving me a bath.

What is happening to me?!? Yesterday Chad left a comment on this blog. Also yesterday, I was lying down and not feeling so hot, and my phone rang, and it was Christian called me for no apparent reason but just to talk, which was amazing. And now today, the greatest thing that has happened to me since I don’t know when, I got a package from Mandy.

Despite the mid-nineties temperature here, it’s like hell is freezing over! People seem to be remembering me! This calls for a party song!

These few days of rain of around here have made for some horribly humid days, but then some cool breezes in the late afternoon/evening. Yesterday I got to experience the worst of humidity: I was cleaning my room (a very physical job), and then the power went out. Okay, I’m still surviving, the windows and doors are open, and some air is coming in that way, no big deal. But then nature changed on me: it started to rain. And along with this heavy downpour of 100% humidity, the light breeze stopped as well, making everywhere a sauna. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life.

I guess that I’ve been staying in the area around AGU for too long. Yesterday I was out with students for a coffee appointment, and noticed that an area near the river where nearly all of the buildings had been recently torn down. Rather unique to this area were a few restaurants that had been build partially over the river, where you could sit above the river and enjoy the view and the breeze. But yesterday this is part of what I saw:

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Of the perhaps 15-20 houses/buildings that were in the area before, only three were still there.

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I’m not sure why they’re tearing everything down…

And it was raining earlier today, so I thought this song was appropriate: Have you ever seen the rain.

Two days ago, almost instantly, someone started erecting a fence around our guesthouse. It was said that the reason for this was because a visiting teacher had his bicycle stolen. However, we, as foreigners living in our own house already feel rather isolated from campus, and having a fence around our house was just another symbolic barrier between us and everyone else, as if there aren’t enough already. We already have a wall around campus B. And the speed at which the fence went up was annoying too. We barely have internet in the guesthouse and it’s only because of me and Hendrik found a bunch of parts around the place and made it work. I’m still waiting for my busted water boiler to be replaced (2 weeks and counting), and yet they can react to a theft and start to build a fence in less than 24 hours. Lillian went and talked to someone and we have all agreed to sign a letter saying we will lock the garage at all times, and construction seems to have halted for the moment.

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The stupid fence.

A couple of weeks ago I copied an idea from Tyler and formed “Coffee Discussion Groups” in my listening and speaking class. This means that a group of six or seven students chooses a topic and a cafe, and I go out with them and they can practice English in a more informal setting than the classroom for an hour or so (they also like the fact that I pay for the coffee). I went out this evening with a group and the topic was childhood. I got to hear some good stories from them and told a few of my own.

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Tuyet, Tu, and Tien; three of my second-year students.