Fresh Air

I’m sitting outside my room at an eco-lodge in Mai Chau, a mountain town about four bumpy hours from Hanoi.  The sun has set but I can see the outlines of the mountains from my porch.  It’s still warm and humid here, but the air is clean and fresh.  I feel like breathing in as much as I can before our return to Hanoi in a couple of days.  

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One week later . . .
I never got a chance to write again while in Mai Chau.  There was too much to experience – the bike rides through the bright green rice paddies, “kayaking” Vietnamese style down a muddy stream, meeting the local Thai indigenous people, enjoying amazing multi-course meals of Vietnamese delicacies, watching traditional dance performances each evening, relaxing in the lodge’s pool with a gorgeous view of rice paddies and mountains, or just breathing in the clean, fresh air.  I also got to know the seven other Fulbrighters who recently arrived in Vietnam, some of their spouses, and our wonderful host from the Embassy.  Each person’s story is amazing and unique and I look forward to spending more time with them.

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My words cannot capture the beauty and serenity of Mai Chau, and neither can my photos, but I’m going to share a bunch anyway.  Best of all, this is just a glimpse of what Vietnam has to offer.  I am looking forward to seeing so much more during my time here.  

Our welcome drink

Our welcome drink

The rooms were luxurious

The rooms were luxurious

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Table for 12 each night, with just as many courses

Table for 12 each night, with just as many courses

Evening traditional dance perrmances

Evening traditional dance performances

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Vietnamese "kayak" races

Vietnamese “kayak” races

It's a lot harder than it looks

It’s a lot harder than it looks

Only one person fell in

Only one person fell in

Rice paddies everywhere

Rice paddies everywhere

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Meeting a local family

Meeting a local family

She never stopped smiling

She never stopped smiling

Embroidery work when not in school

Embroidery work when not in school

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The view from above

The view from above

Comments (26):

  1. LInda Wight

    September 14, 2016 at 11:43

    AS usual, you take very good pictures of the surrounding countryside and I thank you for sharing the beauty of it with us. I think you are a true ambassador for our country. I am glad that you are meeting people who will be teaching with you, and meeting local families and learning about their, food and custome. I hope you are learning some of the language. I think that would be.hard for me, especially as a wrong pronunciation could be taken the wrong way; although probably be a source of much hilarity :). STore up that air Tim and enjoy the break. IT sounds like you will be very busy this school term. I think of you often and enjoy your blogs. Conradand I are both well and the weather continues to be humid though we are suppose to get some thunder showers. God Bless and stay well, love cousin , LInda

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:47

      Yes, I’ve had several funny experiences with language. Last night, I went to what I thought was a phổ (noodle soup) restaurant because there was a big neon sign out front that said phổ. They’re everywhere, and it’s one word I know I’ve learned. When I walked in and said “phổ?” the boy behind the counter gave me a key. By this time, I thought maybe I wasn’t in a restaurant, but I had to see where the key led, so I went upstairs and opened the door. It was a hotel that happened to have phổ in its name! I left and found another place to eat. I also found out today that, depending on the accent, phổ could mean street. I’m learning! Glad to hear you and Conrad are well.

      Reply
  2. Paula Agins

    September 14, 2016 at 12:08

    I am just loving your posts and pictures! I close my eyes and pretend I am there. Miss you at school.

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:48

      Glad to be of service! Ready to plan your next trip?

      Reply
  3. ellen (kathy's neighbor!)

    September 14, 2016 at 13:00

    Tim, your stories and pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing all this. Enjoy your time!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:49

      Hello Ellen (Kathy’s neighbor!). . . Thanks for checking in. Hope your neighbors are behaving themselves.

      Reply
      • ellen (kathy's neighbor!)

        September 28, 2016 at 14:03

        I am happy to report they are currently out of town 🙂

        Reply
        • Tim Flanagan

          October 6, 2016 at 06:01

          Be careful. Jeff likes to watch his spy cameras on his phone.

          Reply
  4. Sharon

    September 14, 2016 at 14:37

    The pictures are fantastic and your words make me feel like I am there… (minus the humidity!) Fabulous!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:52

      I’ve been afraid to say it, but the heat has not been as bad as I thought. It is hot, but there are fans everywhere – one classroom had about 20. Even sidewalk cafes bring a fan to your table as soon as you sit down. Many places have air conditioning also. I still sweat through my clothes in the short walk to and from school, but there’s always relief in sight.

      Reply
  5. Diane Gallo

    September 14, 2016 at 14:50

    Sounds like you are having an amazing time. Thank you for sharing your experiences and beautiful pics!! Keep them coming!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:53

      Hope you’re adjusting well to life back at school. Keep your eyes out for that next grant.

      Reply
  6. Lori

    September 14, 2016 at 14:51

    Just wonderful!!!!!! We miss you at school but you continue to educate us all!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:55

      I had my first school dream last night, and it was about one of our cherubs. It was the usual kind of dream where I completely lose control of the class (happens all the time). Woke up feeling good about being in Vietnam!

      Reply
  7. Anne cylkowski

    September 14, 2016 at 16:51

    Unbelievable Tim the country looks lovely what great pictures and Beautiful People!!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:57

      I’m finding that the people I meet are making all the challenges worthwhile. Every day there’s a new experience with complete strangers who just want to get to know me.

      Reply
  8. Jenny

    September 14, 2016 at 17:15

    Tim, You inspire me! You are brave and open to know new places and people. Your photos are gorgeous; thank you for them all! This Fulbright Program looks fascinating. I look forward to reading more posts! Thank you for including me. I like to see how the people live, also the art work/livelihoods- such as the embroidery.

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 09:59

      Thanks for reading, Jenny. I’ll keep an eye out for more art and try to get some good shots.

      Reply
  9. Anthony & Jean

    September 14, 2016 at 17:15

    Looks beautiful. So green! Anthony and I are wanting to get to Vietnam in Phase 2 of our travels so thanks for the sneak preview

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 10:01

      Yes, I’d highly recommend it, except that there’s a lot of Aussies here! I’m looking forward to seeing more of the country – the students are telling me all the best places to go.

      Reply
  10. Thu Huong

    September 15, 2016 at 05:21

    The person in your photos look very familiar to me, Tim!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      September 15, 2016 at 10:02

      A Vietnamese model!

      Reply
  11. Deidre Toole

    September 15, 2016 at 16:27

    Breathtaking! Just can’t imagine waking up to this every morning! You must be loving it Tim-the perfect person to do this. I love their version of paddle boarding too!
    Thanks for the beautiful photos! Sorry I missed you at your bon voyage, but got delayed in Burlington, VT doing the college drop off thing!
    Will be so happy to see you when your return!!!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      October 6, 2016 at 04:26

      We missed you, too, but I completely understand. I hope your year is going as planned and maybe not so busy.

      Reply
  12. Monica Schnee

    September 24, 2016 at 09:11

    I love it all! It looks so serene and beautiful. Love the Fulbright Orientation – that is so wonderful! We are having such different experiences. Seoul is wonderful, it has been hot and humid here too. The city is welcoming but no, there is no clean and fresh air but there is a lot generosity and kindness – that makes up for the pollution that the wind blows from China on some hazy days.
    Thanks for the beautiful photos and the vivid writing. Monica

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      October 6, 2016 at 05:55

      China’s sending its pollution our way, too! I’m enjoying reading your blog as well.

      Reply

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This is a personal website. All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.