January 28, 2011

Tan lines

Right now I'm mooching a Mac sitting on a terracotta-tiled porch. The ocean is about 10 meters behind me and the waves are competing with the palm trees for the loudest windswept hiss.. I'm sandy and sticky and am beyond thrilled that we finally made it to the tropics.

This post will have to be brief, as I am borrowing a computer and quite frankly, I want to get back to the water. But here's a little update on where I've been the past few days:

I ended up buying the custom-made white dress. The receptionist from the store came to my hotel about an hour before I was set to leave on the bus. I had made friends with her earlier in the day, she's teaching herself English from a well-worn hand-written book. She's 20 years old, works seven days a week (two days off each month) from 8a-8p. She shares a dormitory with one other girl. She wants an education and a boyfriend.

I tried on the dress at the hotel and it still didn't fit. Desperate to not lose a sale, she told me to put on my pants and we'd go to the tailor's house. I hopped on her motorbike wearing green cargo pants and a white cocktail dress and she lead me through a labyrinth of narrow passageways far behind Hoi An's main roads that are loaded with travelers like me.

The electricity was still out and dusk was quickly approaching. I sat on the porch of the house as two women ripped my dress apart and manually started sewing it. I was surrounded my curious little kids and the elderly neighbors eyed me suspiciously. My new 20-year old friend was gracious and introduced me to everyone and was very sweet. I couldn't not buy the dress. It still doesn't fit and there is a lot of damage from all of the seam rips and restarts, but I will try rock it. And if anyone says anything about it, I will have one hell of a story to say as a rebuttal.

After that, we took an overnight bus to Nha Trang. We arrived at 7 a.m. and I had to be at my dive school at 7:30. Exhausted, hungry, nervous, and lost, I finally made it to the shop at 7:50. Within an hour I did my first scuba dive. I was terrified -- it was only my third time swimming in an ocean and I suddenly was 20 feet down? Unnatural and weird.

For the next two days, I was taught by two French guys. I was the only student and they were Nha Trang lifers. They were very friendly, but I felt a lot of pressure not to mess up, given I was their only pupil. My test day I did two dives and only could see 1.5-2 meters underwater. It was like driving in a blizzard. It freaked me out, but they told me it will only make me a better diver since I haven't ever gone in great conditions.

In two weeks, I'll be diving in some of the world's best waters. We got our permits for the Sipidan in Borneo (google it).

Three days from now, we'll sadly leave our beachfront bungalow in Mui Ne (a top spot for kite surfers) and fly to Manila and then to Palawan for a different beach bungalow. Internet is becoming more and more scarce and I'm not sure I'll get another update in before I return to China. I'll do my best though to keep up to date. I have taken a ton of video footage, so I will post some of that when I return.

For now, I hope you're all staying warm back home! I'm off to soak up more sun, go to a yoga class, then eat piles and piles of scallops and prawns from a beachside grill (did I mention the scallops are less than $1 a plate??)

Sorry. I'm guessing most of you want to punch me for that braggy little paragraph... I know it's bitterly cold back home, but I can't help but be giddy about my newly-found paradise.

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