Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cu Chi Tunnels

So,did a bit of an excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels. Cu Chi is a county near Saigon (Ho Chi Min City.) It was known as a beautiful "wilderness" with many rubber plantations, and farming. It was a place for city folk to escape the city. It also was a place for city folk to escape Saigon politics. Followers of Ho Chi Min would leave the comfort of the city and flee to the country-side to live off the land and fight the devilish Americans. There were more than 200 km of tunnels in the area that let the Vietnamese forces attack US/South Vietnamese bases in the area. Unfortunately, the area was bombed heavily during the war, with craters still visible and only the odd mature tree left (chemical weapons pretty much wiped all vegetation out during the war, though it's coming back, or was replanted.) 
History is written by the victors, and in this case, the Vietnamese are proud as peach about driving the US forces away. The site of the Cu Chi tunnels shows the life of the southern "Freedom fighters." It was quite impressive. The Vietnamese really show the women's involvement because the men were usually else where. The women tended the fields by day, and killed Americans by night.
The tunnel network was ingenious, and understandably the American forces could do little against them aside from bomb the hell out of the area. One of the tunnel entrances they showed us was maybe 15cm by 30 cm (6"x12") Barely noticeable by anyone walking by. No wonder the guerrillas seemed to disappear into thin air. The traps they used were nasty too, and the guide proudly noted how effective they were. There was a blown up tank,which made me glad to no longer be part of an armoured unit. 
The tunnel system was definitely a major part of the Vietnamese strategy in the area. The ventilation ducts were disguised as termite mounts and the scent covered up by using the clothing of US soldiers. The US tried using hounds to find the tunnels. The guide also pointed out that most of the American "Tunnel Rats" (the unit that went into the tunnels) were Mexican-American because they were small and could maneuver the 40cm by 60cm tunnels, not like the "big fat" American soldiers. (Of course everyone looked at me for reference at this point. lol) You will see in the picture that I could barely maneuver the 60x120cm tunnels made for tourists. I managed only about 30 of the 100 meters too. Being a little claustrophobic, the tight squeeze was too much for me to take beyond the first exit. It was quite something. I'll post pictures when I'm back in Korea, so stay tuned.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


OK... I think my Video is finally working now. Here is a Picture and video from my first or second night in Bangkok.
Watch the video here...

Sunday, January 22, 2006


After getting my new Job, I went to meet my friend Pa. Pa and I met last year, she's a masseuse (legit) just off Koh San road. We've kept touch by email over the past year, and it was cool to visit her.
I told Pa my plans to go up to Chang Mai and do a bit of a tour. She suggested that when I get back I should go to Koh Chang with her. IT would have been nice, but I only had a day or two after going to Chang Mai, before having to go off to Vietnam.
I wound up compromising, and suggesting that we go to Koh Chang instead of me going to Chaing Mai. That's how I wound up on Koh Chang.
Now... last issue I mentioned the mosquitos being a problem in the beach hut. The mosquito issues were put to rest when we signed into a new hotel. No more roughing it. This trip has also been the trip of experiencing new foods. Pa has been ordering different stuff for us every meal. It's great.
I rented two different scooters on KhoChang.Both were not happy pulling me and Pa around the Island, which is full of hills. I abandoned the 125 automatic bike after one day, and hung onto a semi-automatic for a day ands a half, but brought it back when it developed a leak of some sort... A bike does get you access to some cool parts of the Island. We went to a waterfall, a fishing village and a couple of beaches on the bikes. I would have liked to drive all the way around the island. They built a new road 2 years ago. If I had found a motorcycle that was well serviced for rent, I would have done it. Unfortunately, the motorbikes that were being rented were all poorly maintained, and for a guy my size, I don't want to ride a bike with bad brakes, and poorly maintained chain. Oh well, next time I go back, I'll make sure it's with my bike. So, ok... I'm somewhat obsessed with motorcycles... you already knew that.
Pa and I went to an elephant place too. Not to ride, but to ask for the elephants blessing with a Thai ritual. It was very cool. We did a prayer, and had to walk under the elephant a few times. It was really cool, and a great experience.
The funny thing is that I wasn't hurt by that Elephant at all, but later I was stepped on by another.
We were feeding baby Odet bananas, when she took a liking to my Columbia Sandals. She stepped on my foot to show that she liked them. Fortunately, she's only about 250-300 kgs. Had it been her momma, I wouldn't have needed the sandal anymore.
After winding down on the beach for a few days it came time to leave. I signed up for a ferry+VIP bus to Bangkok deal cause it seemed like a good deal. I should have done what we did last time. I still had to pay taxi's to and from the ferry... Frustrating. They get you every way they can. I opted for the bus because(like Jackie) Pa doesn't have the bladder that can handle a long trip. I learned from our last ride in a van what can happen to people like that. So we took a VIP bus with an on-board loo. I DESPISE buses. Being in the slow hulks drives me absolutely batty. I can't stand the heat. I can't stand the enclosed spaces, I can't stand the cramped/uncomfortable seating.I also can't stand the smell of the washroom. I really wished I had brought my AT with me. The ride from Koh Chang was excruciatingly long. The "VIP" bus was a disappointment, and we had the SLOWEST driver in all of Thailand. We did make it back to KhoaSan Rd by 6:30, and my friend Pa went off to a farewell party for one of her friends who is moving to India for a few months.

Anyway, back in Bangkok for a few days. I'm just waiting on my Passport to come back from the Vietnamese embassy (Monday) and fly out to Vietnam on Tuesday.
Hope all are well...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Job Fair part 2

So, Sunday morning I went early to the Job fair as I had an 8:30 interview with a school in Indonesia. I ran into Ron and Juddith from the American International School of Adu Dhabi, one of the schools interested in me. They wanted to see me at 11:30 instead of 9:30. Actually I didn't know they wanted to see me at 9:30 since I hadn't seem my mailbox at that point.  Well, they offered me a position at the school.  Before seeing anything else in my mailbox, and having the interviews for the day... I said Yes. It really just felt like the proper fit, and my gut said yes.
Once I got to the mailbox, I found a request for a 2nd interview with a Thai school that I didn't think had ANY interest in me after the first interview. Truth is, I wasnt upset by this, because I really think I made the best decision for myself at this time. Who knows, in 2 years I will be given the option to stay or move on.
I didn't connect with my 8:30... I didn't see her in the Lobby, so I waited in the foyer... never heard from her, but I left a nice card appologizing for any inconvenience of us not connecting. For all I know she slept in???  Cancelled the rest of the appointments for the day, went back to the Atlanta, changed and decided to go for a celebratory massage with my friend Pa, the masseuse I met last time I was in Bangkok, and kept touch with by email.

My plans to go to Chaing Mai and do a motorcycle tour changed a bit. I was a little turned off by the 12 hour bus ride, and an opportunity to go back to Koh Chang developed. Speaking of Developed, in the 2.5 years since i was here before, Koh Chang has changed some. There has been a serious development boom, of which we saw the beginning. Many of the quaint little places that were on the beach before are either gone, or crowded by monstrous resort style hotels.
I will give props to Jackie, for saying no to the little bamboo hut on the beach, when we were here in 2003. I know Tiffany and I were okay with them, because we wouldn't have minded "roughing it", but I have learned...the huts are cheap(ish), they look cool, all the beach-bum budget tourists stay in them for months at a time, but they really are just havens for mosquitos... and when you are as long as the sleeping mattress, whatever hangs off the edge, or touched the side of the mosquito netting, is still fair game for the little suckers... I regretted paying 2 nights for the room. But tomorrow, a nice "sealed" room will do nicely. I guess I'm too old for roughing it like that... or maybe it's just that I have too sweet blood.
Anyhow, so far so good.
Take care... I'll update again later.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


OK everyone,
Quick update on what I've been up to. Sorry I've been at keeping this up the last few months.
First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Solar New Year. (You'll understand Solar soon)
From the 23 of December to 6th of January I was working at a camp at the JLP center in Damyang. Actually it is a 5 week long in service for High School English teachers. The two weeks I was there were a good time. The thing I hate most about these camps... sorry forgot about how long it takes to mark journals. I mean the thing I hate the 2nd most about these camps is that you have to leave just when you start to get to know the trainees. As part of the "Green Team", I had a lot of fun.
The next week I was working at a kids camp in Suncheon. That was a blast, too. I miss working with upper elementary school kids. We had a great time. Again, too bad it ended so quickly. The camp lasted from Monday to Friday. After camp, I was literally off to Thailand...
Where I am now, at the International School Services (ISS) Bangkok 2006 International Recruiting Center (IRC).
Yes, I'm looking for an international school job. I'm hoping to get into a middle school or elementary school in some far off country. I've interviewed at schools in Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, and the United Arab Emerites, and will interview with an Indonesian school and German School tomorrow .
Boy was this fair an Eye-opener.
First of all, I attached this trip to my holiday. So, I packed to spend two weeks in Thailand and Vietnam, which also meant that I wasn't to keen about packing dress shoes and my suit. I figured, "This is teaching right? A nice shirt, a tie and slacks should make a good impression, there not going to look at my shoes (Brand new hikers). And if they see the shoes, I'll come off as "sporty," right???" 
I can tell you right now, that I'm pretty sure that two schools which were interested in the resume I sent them, didn't take a second look at me in person, because of how I dressed. Almost everyone here is dressed in a suit. I still look damn good, but apparently not good enough.
I also missed the first day, the orientation day working the kids camp (which, incidentally, is paying for this little Job fair.)   I really should have been there, just to get into the swing of things.
Thirdly, I made only 6 interview appointments, 2 of which I don't have a chance at.
So, did I waste US$350 by signing up for and coming to this thing?
I think not. I was pretty picky at the schools I signed up with, maybe too picky. Ideally I should have applied to a tonne of schools, for practice and to play the odds. I also realized, I haven't had a face to face interview since 1999. (Barbara, you don't count because I've known you for so many years.) All my jobs sionce university (except Floater) have been by phone interview. I was nervous. (Actually I correct myself, I interviewed with five private schools in Calgary in 2002.) 
However, I do have two schools interested in me. Both are schools I may not have looked at seriously if I had played the numbers game. One was a school that approached me. The second, had a good web site, and though the money isn't as much as I dreamt of, the people that interviewed me were really good. Actually, the feller that interviewed me, reminded me of Jim Legge, my principal in Hall Beach. The situation is a total 180 from where I'm at now, and I'm very interested. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm not gonna give any more details, because I don't want to jinx myself, and I have a few more interviews. 
Anyways, I'll likely update sooner than later, but if you don't read in the sooner time-line, have a happy Lunar New Year. (Chinese New Year to some - January 28-30th.)
Oh, and Steve, Happy Belated birthday...