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  • kimuchee 2:26 pm on December 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , different languages, food, , ,   

    Lessons Learned 

    1) Communication is an amazing thing.

    Being in a country that speaks a language with absolutely no connection to yours except a couple of loan words can be quite a frustrating experience. I took understanding a person and having a person understand me for granted. It sounds silly but the fact that you can understand me now and the ideas that I am trying to portray is a beautiful thing. But when someone finally does understand me I get this ridiculous elation. It’s like my eyes have just been opened to the fact that the human species is amazing. That there are different languages and cultures is amazing. I wish I could find words that could express this enlightenment properly but unfortunately I wasn’t gifted with the power of eloquence.

    While on this trip I’ve also had a new-found respect for those people from non-English countries that attend our school, whether it be for a semester or four years. Talking about complicated concepts in a language that you were not born with is no joke!

    2) Distance makes the Heart grow fonder.

    This has proven to be true throughout my college experience in regards to my family and has proven to be even more true in Japan where I am away from my family and friends. I have resolved to go back and really make sure to treasure those bonds that I do have and to put effort into every relationship that I engage in.

    3) Try everything, even when it makes you queasy.

    My first adventure with queasy inducing food in japan has been with natto. Natto is essentially fermented beans with soy sauce. I had been warned about the dish and had been crazy to try it ever since. Of course it was everything  they said it would be. Stinky and Cheese link. I was told then that it is and acquired taste and most Japanese young people don’t like it. Needless to say I didn’t like the food but my host family found pleasure in my willingness to try out new foods. My second adventure was with a dish called Sukiyaki. This dish consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, and other miscellaneous delicious things. It doesn’t sound bad does it? Imagine my surprise when my host family proceeded to show me how to eat it. I  could feel my eyes getting nigger as they went on to scramble a raw egg in their bowl and dip the meat and vegetables in before eating them. That had to be one of my biggest adventures and I was well rewarded for my effort! It was absolutely delicious!!! I just couldn’t think too much about the fact that I was eating raw egg or I would start to feel queasy.

    4) Traveling is beautiful.

    There are of course difficult times that you experience when traveling but for all of those experiences there are three times as much wonderful experiences. After a while you even being to appreciate the tough times because they make the wonderful times stand out even more. You meet all kinds of people as well! I can’t ever see myself getting tired of the thrill that comes from traveling.

    5) Japanese is hard.

    Of course I knew this before my trip to Japan but studying Japanese and being fluent in Japanese are two completely different things, but on this trip I have come to realize that becoming fluent in Japanese is now a goal in my life. It is something that I wish to pursue no matter what career I ultimately end up choosing. The director of JCMU told us in our opening ceremony that the way you can tell if you have become fluent in a language is if you can understand their jokes. Not only do you understand the grammar, and vocabulary, but you understand the culture behind the joke as well. This is the measurement that I wish to abide by. Until I can understand jokes in Japanese I don’t want to stop learning it!

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  • globalkiwi 4:27 pm on November 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: food,   

    Traditional Korea and "Yummy" bugs! 

    SO while on vacation during Chusok here in Korea, I visited a small traditional village where I stated in a traditional Hanok: Korean housing with heated floors that we slept on and enjoyed the chestnut festival. I even got to try on a Hanbok (traditional Korean dress)!  Among the festivities, my friends and I decided to enjoy some of the traditional street food cuisine, one of them being silk worm pupae!

    It was crunchy and had a aroma that surrounded the entire area…

    I’ve been told it was Bee Larvae, but it in fact Silkworm Pupae. While it was exciting to try, I won’t be eating these again. 🙂 lol
     
  • appelsina7 6:51 am on November 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , food, identity, , , , ,   

    New 

    Getting places in a new city is always an adventure. Especially when you don’t speak the native language very well. Usually, in the beginning it involves writing addresses down on napkins and other scraps of paper, so that you can give it to the taxi driver without having to communicate very much. After being here for almost two months, I have become more confident of my ability to communicate an address to a taxi driver or negotiate a price with a “xe om” driver (man you pay to give you a ride on his motorbike). Getting to my internship meeting for the first time was more eventful that I would have liked, especially on an early Monday morning. I have started to enjoy trying out my broken Vietnamese with taxi drivers and on this morning in particular, my driver asked the typical initial questions like “where are you from?” but then skipped a few and went right to “Do you have a boyfriend?” I was happy that I picked up the words but surprised by the forwardness of his question. I replied that I did have a boyfriend and he asked his nationality, either Vietnamese or American. Not sure where the conversation was going at this point, I answered that he is American and the taxi driver wanted to know why he did not come with me to Vietnam? It was an unusual exchange and one that ended up sticking with me, especially after my taxi driver admitted to not knowing the way. So I led him to the street, paid and got out of the cab thinking that it would be easy to find my way. I ended up not being able to find it and I asked a well-dressed elderly man who did not know the way but asked around and taking my arm led me to the address. He was very sweet and I was excited to discover that he spoke French (he was the first Vietnamese man of the older generation who I encountered speaking French). He led me carefully through the early morning traffic, giving my arm little tugs when he thought I was going to walk in front of a moving vehicle, in my eagerness to be on the sidewalk again.

    Even at home I enjoy trying new foods and being in Vietnam has made me much more adventurous. Just the other day I tried snake and on another occasion, my roommate came home very excited about some wedding cake that her friend gave her. Curious, I watched as she unpacked two plastic bags of this sticky looking green and brow gelatin looking substance. She explained that it was wedding cake made of rice from the hai phong province; the cake is called banh phu the banh com. She ate it by pulling the dark green layer from the tan layer or the whitish layer (there were two different types of the cake). So I tried some and it tasted like mildly sweet rice jelly goo. I am not a fan and happily let my roommate devour the bags of cake.

    Themes have started to present themselves now that I have been here for two months. One of these is the problems that are created by the Vietnamese attempting to straddle their traditional culture and their desire to be modern. Stemming from their traditional belief that, “we are all one,” the Vietnamese continue to live by this idea. When Vietnam was still organized in Villages, people could not exist outside of their community. Not belonging to a village meant being homeless, not connected to any place or to any one. As a result, people in their villages demonstrated and follow the unique cultural expressions of their village. People, outside of their village, were identified by it but within their community they were recognized as individuals. People ask you where you are from so they can discover who you are, defined by the village you belong to, their communal traditions and beliefs, to whom you are attached. Today this idea causes problems. Location is still very important to the Vietnamese. One of the first things I am asked when meeting a new Vietnamese is always “where are you from?” This though, because I am a foreigner and not from a village, is not a sufficient question to be able to figure out who I am. They need more information, just like I can’t ask a Vietnamese person “where are you from?” and have Vietnam be an adequate answer to begin figuring out who they are. Just like I would not recognize the specific village/town/city they come from, unless it is one of the few I have heard of or visited, they usually do not know where Massachusetts is and never know where Hadley is. As a result, they generalize about Americans, as though we are all the same. Even if they did have an understanding of the town I come from, my town and the majority of the towns in he US are not made up of people belonging to the same political, economic or religious groups. My town does effect who I am, like my preference of rural areas rather than urban ones. I have found that Vietnamese youth, like my buddy from Ho Chi Minh City and my roommate in Hanoi, try to put me in this box labeled “American” and I do not fit with many of the qualifiers that they previously thought were characteristics of Americans. Their example comes from what they watch on MTV and gain from other internet shown, movies and the internet. I am frugal, do not enjoy going to loud and smoke filled nightclubs, or wearing minuscule clothing. I do not smoke or do drugs, and I like to enjoy my drinks instead of just drinking to get wasted. I am trying to show them a more real, diverse side of the “American” that the have created from the media. Just like they are all unique, so am I and location cannot be the only identifier one uses to figure out who someone is.

     
  • at5203 8:57 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , food, ,   

    First Blog 

    Hello world I sincerely apologize for the absence of my blogs. I will promise to keep posting on a weekly basis. So far my journey in Vietnam has been such a beautiful and enriching experience. Vietnam is a country deep rooted in folklore and spiritual energy. Personally I have always been attracted to the mystical and spiritual side of the world. The Vietnamese are strong believers of good fortune and good luck and that is why they have shrines in their houses and stores. The shrines are suppose to bring good luck and also avoid the presence of evil. The picture below shows as shrine inside a temple.  Most people pray to the shine and wish for good grades, good fortune, and good health. I hope my prayers for good grades have kicked in!ImageImageThis picture is the shrine inside the house of a Vietnamese buddy.  Her family’s hospitality was amazing and the food was delicious.ImageI have to warn you that before you guys judge this meal was probably one of the best that I have ever had. Although this is not a picture of a shrine it is meal eaten only at the end of the year because it is suppose to bring good luck.  However if you eat it at the beginning of the year you will receive bad luck.  Can anyone tell what it is yet? It is dog meat! Yum. 

     
    • DougReilly 3:30 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Adrian,
      Glad to see you up and running on the blog. I applaud you for being open minded and in this case, culturally relativist. The distinctions we make between pet and meal, companion and nourishment, is culturally bound and varies from culture to culture to a huge degree. I look forward to more daring and insightful posts from you! Doug

    • Tatianna Jasmine 5:29 pm on November 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Adrian!! Kudos to you for trying dog meat. While I was in Vietnam I could never get pass the idea of eating a dog. I am so glad you are being adventurous. Keep it up, i’d love to see all fo the other cool things you have been up to

  • Kristyna Bronner 10:21 am on October 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , food, fu tai market, , ,   

    Response to Challenge Four 

    The high rises around campus.

    Now that I’ve been living in Hong Kong for almost  two months, I have definitely developed a daily routine (though it’s not very structured like my routine at HWS). At least once everyday, I walk through campus to the Fu Tai shopping center, either to go to the grocery store, eat in the restaurants there, or at night for the night market noodles (by far my favorite food here). Usually, I walk through campus to get to the shopping center. I simply have to cross the street to get to the new dorm buildings. After walking by those, I have to cross the street once more to get to the shopping center. This is the fastest way to get to Fu Tai, but there is another way to get there. For this challenge, I decided to try taking the long way. I took as many pictures as I could, but at this point I’m past being “touristy” and stopping to take pictures of everything and everyone.

    Instead of crossing the street as soon as I could, I decided to go right and walk by several high rise buildings. The one closest to Lingnan is definitely the nicest: it has a gate with a security guard and a fancy light display out front. The surrounding area has more high rises. I walked past one that had men playing cards outside. Then, once I got past them I walked on a pathway between several apartment buildings passing many people on the way. This pathway led me to the back entrance of the shopping center and to the Fu Tai Market Place. Even though I have been here for a while, I had yet to go in, so I decided to change that.

    The entrance to the market.

    The market place is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you don’t want to see full ducks and chickens roasted and hanging, this is not the place for you. If you don’t want to see a cage full of live frogs or someone kill a fish and then skin it in front of you, this is not the place for you. Besides meat and fish, the market place had a lot to offer. There were several fresh fruit and vegetable stands, a bakery, and a few shops selling tea sets and incense. It makes a lot more sense to buy fresh food in the market as opposed to the supermarket in the shopping center.

    Overall, this longer path was more interesting to me. I think I might start doing it more often…just not when I’m in a rush. I’m definitely going back to the market for some fresh fruit and egg custards.

    One of the biggest perks of living in Hong Kong is the fresh produce!

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

     
    • DougReilly 3:21 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Kristyna,
      What a great description and what a colorful walk! I can imagine the market…certainly far from all the meat prebutchered and neatly vacuum wrapped in plastic at Wegman’s. Imagine a cage full of frogs there! It’s funny how much distance many of us in the west put between our food and the facts of our food. Anyway, great post. What did you post the slide show with? Looks great!
      Doug

    • Kristyna Bronner 6:36 am on October 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I used wordpress for the slideshow! I uploaded multiple photos at one time.

  • appelsina7 9:29 am on October 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: food, , senses,   

    A Sense of Three Weeks 

    One of the first things that I noticed about Ho Chi Minh City was that my senses were constantly being assaulted. The traffic was loud and smelly, as motorbikes, cars and taxis sped by. It took me about a week to feel confident enough to cross the street without that one moment of panic and the thought that, “Oh my God I am going to die!” After a man on a motorbike clipped me when he came up from behind me on the sidewalk, I realized that anywhere I can walk, motorbikes can travel too.

    I often woke up to the sound of geckos laughing on my ceiling, dogs barking and the construction that was happening next door. Even the rain is loud here. One minute it can be very humid and sticky, and the next the rain is coming down in torrents. It is one of the more soothing sounds that I enjoyed while in Ho Chi Minh City, along with the Buddhist man I sometimes heard singing off of his balcony from the building next door.

    Another quirk of the city is the burning of incense. Both in shops and on the street, there are pots of sand with red pieces of incense sticking out of them. When I saw one on the bus and asked what it was for, I learned that people can take the incense and burn it in front of the bus before it leaves, to promote a safe trip. Incense is burned on the streets so that wandering spirits who wish to cause accidents will be appeased and quieted. I don’t think this happens very often though, because I do not know how anyone could even take a piece of incense from its package hanging on the bus wall, before it speeds away. To live in Ho Chi Minh City was to be in motion, in sync with the city, harmonizing. I learned that though there are innumerable things to absorb, it is important to rest and take some time off. This allowed me to process and appreciate everything more the next time I went out exploring.

    The scents here range from those of foods cooking on the street, to rotting in the gutters. One of my favorite smells is one which wafts up from a man’s waffle stand. Stands like his appear and disappear regularly. The city is always changing and the food that you planned on eating every day until the end of your trip because it was so yummy, probably won’t be there tomorrow. Some stores open when others close, so even though you may walk up and down the same street, depending on the time of day it may look different.

    The people are very kind to foreigners. Every coffee shop I enter the people are friendly and want to get to know me. People are very eager to learn why I have come to Vietnam, whether I like it here and how long I will be staying? A woman at a dress shop I visited said, “Please come back! I can make anything you want! Tell all of your friends!” She was very sweet and because she was so kind, she made me want to tell everybody I know about her cute little shop and the friendly woman who works there. People are very eager to help me practice my Vietnamese. They may laugh at me sometimes, which took some getting used to, but I now know that it is only because they think my American accent sounds funny when I speak Vietnamese. It is also difficult to speak Vietnamese with people who don’t speak very much English because even when I try to speak Vietnamese, to them, it sounds strange because of my accent and they expect me to speak English. They do not expect foreigners to speak Vietnamese, so when I try and they listen, they have a hard time distinguishing between English and Vietnamese.

    Taste is also different here. I have tried many things that I wouldn’t usually eat, simply because I am in Vietnam. I have eaten snails which were yummy, as well as cow blood, in both soup broth and in jelly form. I did not like the snake that I ate but I was told that it was cooked improperly. I would not mind trying snake again when it doesn’t resemble and taste like rubber. I also wasn’t particularly fond of the mouse and the fried frog legs I had. There were many little bones in the mouse meat, which made munching difficult, even though it was in a tasty sauce. The frog was a strange texture, which reminded me of chicken and fish. I am also not a fan of squid, mostly because of the texture which is also sort of chewy. The flavors of Vietnam are full bodied and surprising. I have had the best scallops I have ever eaten out of a large seafood eatery, which was hidden down an alley.

    I was touched by Ho Chi Minh City. It being the first part of Vietnam that I was introduced to. I am already looking forward to returning in December, at the end of my semester abroad. For now though, I am in Hanoi and discovering another Vietnamese City for the first time. The results will follow soon!

     
    • DougReilly 4:41 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I swear I responded to this, but it must have been a mental response. This post is really evocative. I just spent 10 days in Vietnam two years ago but I can really relate and your piece brought me back to that short but unforgettable encounter. I think it would be really cool to write a follow up piece about the sensory experience of Hanoi. Having been in both (though only very briefly in HCMC), they seem very, very different places with different atmospheres. What are the sensations of Hanoi!

  • Kristyna Bronner 3:13 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: food, , ,   

    Noodles 

    What to eat today?
    Menu is in Cantonese,
    I’ll have the noodles.

    20120917-231231.jpg

     
    • DougReilly 7:14 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Nice! Noodles are the safe bet.

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