I had never thought I would make it to Vietnam. I actually fell in love from a far after seeing a vacation Steve took last year to Vietnam. He had this beautiful location that was serene and relaxing and I thought to myself, “I am going to get to Vietnam one day!” It’s amazing when you put something out in the universe…you just might find yourself on a plane, far far away, heading to work. But today, your work is in, non other than, Vietnam.
I had to get a Visa upon arrival and show all kinds of documentation. This is a little unnerving as I didn’t want to come all that way and not be able to do the event. Brian had put all the paperwork, money and pictures into an envelope marked “VIETNEM VISA UPON ARRIVAL” and it’s a good thing as Brian is the brains behind the whole Kass Martin operation. Once I was past immigration a flood of relief rushed over me.
As I was grabbing my luggage, I peeked into the crowd of people awaiting friends and loved ones exiting the airport. I saw neon colors, a little jumping up and down, so I knew right away I was in the right place! Zumbawear is just what this girl needs to see when arriving to a foreign country she has never ever been before. Going anywhere unknown takes a leap of faith. I don’t often times know the hosts personally up until this point. I don’t know the area, the country, the customs, often times the language, and I am going on a prayer and a LOT of love for Zumba.
The girls picking me up were as sweet as can be. The main host was busy getting final preparations ready for the event. My goodness, my heart goes out to the hosts, they work tirelessly for the events and let us all enjoy their efforts. I LOVE MY HOSTS!!! My new Vietnamese besties gave me some yummy breads (delicious) to tide me over, got me some crisp Coke Zeros (I was desperately needing these) and waters and we were on our way.
The event was AWESOME! High energy, loud happy Zumba music, smiling faces. I am reminded again and again just how awesome my job is. I get to do what I LOVE in all corners of the world. How did this girl who didn’t have a passport end up here? AMAZING! I love sharing the joy that fitness, people, music, community, and Zumba brings to our lives. It’s rad.
I found a little nook behind the stage, out of sight to “hide” and go over my music. It’s hard to get right off an international flight and get the energy needed to pump up a crowd of hundreds of people. Taking that time, in a corner all to myself to get in the zone is essential.
The event was 3 hours, my session wedged in the middle and then pics at the very end. By the time the event was over, we were all sweaty, exhausted and ready to stuff our faces with some amazing Vietnamese food.
“Have you had Vietnamese food before?” I was asked. “Uhhh….I don’t know!” I replied sheepishly. Once upon a time I remember going to a restaurant where it was a Vietnamese cuisine but I can’t really say it was “authentic” or not. Regardless, it’s not like being THERE in the country.
What I now think of Vietnamese food is that what I experienced there, in Vietnam, was one of the BEST meals ever!! WOW! We ordered nearly every item on the menu and between the group of about 12 of us…we cleared it all! “Wrap and rolls” were a new thing for me and totally yummy! Wrap and Roll, is like a lettuce wrap but with rice paper. YUMMMM! There were rice dishes, noodle dishes, soups, spring rolls…the whole spread.
I loved the atmosphere too. I loved getting to know the people there. How often do you get to sit together with lovely people, in a foreign country, eating delicious food? These are the moments I never want to forget.
Now that the work part of the trip was over, it was time to relax. It’s not even a conscious thing. I have a mental switch that goes from work to relax mode once that final song is played, the last pic is taken. My body knows it’s time to decompress.
The hotel was awesome. It was ornate, had beautiful rose petals on the golden bathroom counter as well as on the bed. The best part was a giant bathtub calling my name.
As the morning came, it was time for the long journey back home. Home sweet home. had come for me to head home.The hosts picked me up at the hotel to drive with me to the airport which was really awesome of them. I am sure they were exhausted from all the planning and event itself but they didn’t show me. When we were driving to the airport, I tried to capture all I could of the life in Vietnam. What would I do if I lived there? What would my life be? What would my job be?
One of the favorite things I saw along the busy roads were the people dressed in the traditional clothing. I saw a number of men and women carrying their goods to sell along the road, wearing those traditional vietnamese hats. It was beautiful to me. Picture perfect. I also saw a family of four on a motorcycle, not one of them wearing helmets. My paranoid mind found that less beautiful and more terrifying, but this is just my culture fighting the norms of another.
While the roads were busy and filled with cars and motorcycles, it didn’t seem scary or unsafe. Everyone did what they should and went merrily on their way.
I wasn’t able to get flights straight from Vietnam with the right connections, so I needed to first go to Singapore-catch an early morning flight the next day to Tokyo, Tokyo to Seattle, Seattle to SLC. That is four more flights to go.
So, what does someone do for all that time alone? Would this make you antsy? Would you love it? Can you sleep on flights? I go through cycles where it’s alright and then times where it just really stinks. 😀 There are times I think “Man! I would love if Brian was here! or Emily! or Steve! or my mom! or…” but it’s just not practical. When I was walking alone in the streets of Singapore…I wanted someone with me. I really did, I was hungry. I wanted something that tasted and smelled like home. Something that while eating it, would send that comfort vibe that soothes all the crazy times and makes you feel like everything is going to be alright. How about a Cafe Rio or a Chipotle? I would have died for an In N Out!
After I checked into my hotel, I headed out in hopes to find something that might hit the spot. I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t want to get lost, but figured I could go a while in one direction and then head back. At least I was getting outside and into the fresh air. Although…it was hot and humid. This is where the Utah girl in me really kicks in. I love the dry air of Utah. Even when it’s hot hot hot, it’s not humid. How do people in humidity handle all the sweat? Or am I the only one hotter then hell out there!?
I found something that peeked my interest. As lame as it sounds…7Eleven. Can you believe it? The gas station food of 7Eleven was the comfort food that called to me. I got some snacks for later in the hotel as it was still pretty early in the afternoon: apples, yogurts, chips, and some cold drinks.
I asked the woman at the register where she would suggest to eat. She was a kind faced, Indian woman, and she suggested Indian. Looking back at it now, that makes sense. I am sure this is HER comfort food. I took her word for it and she was right. It was delicious. She said she had eaten there for lunch just the other day and lucky for me, it was only a few doors down-heading back int the direction of the hotel.
Aside from the skin on the chicken (which isn’t something I am used to), and some chewy tendons and cartilage I chomped down on (I wish I was kidding) it was good. The flavors were spot on and tasty. I had to set some chicken pieces aside as I could see the raised pores on the skin and it was too real for me. I know this is totally an American thing. There are things that I am used to that people would NEVER eat. Florescent colors of processed foods we have in the U.S. for starters. But…you’re used to what you’re used to. I’ll never sit down and eat a fish with those beady eyes still attached, staring out at me. I don’t really eat fish at all. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just ain’t gonna happen. The highlight of this dinner experience was fresh baked naan-although it wasn’t called naan, they called it something else I can’t recall. I wished I ordered 4 instead of the 2 I had. It was delicious.
When I was getting ready to leave, I was told they didn’t accept credit cards. Oh gosh. What have I gotten myself into? I didn’t have cash, they didn’t have an ATM machine, but they did suggest I go back to the 7eleven and see if they had an ATM there.
I went and found my new friend there at “The Sev” and asked her about the cash situation. She didn’t have an ATM as I was told, BUT she did reach into her wallet and gave me the money I needed to pay for my meal. How sweet is that? I wanted to jump over the counter and hug her. I don’t think the owner of the Indian restaurant believed I was coming back with the money. The look on his face sure seemed surprised as I returned. I happily gave him the money and headed back to the hotel.
I plopped on the bed and turned on the TV . I wasn’t hopeful there was anything on, but it was only 6pm and it was going to be a long night without some form of entertainment. I had just finished my second audio book of the trip. To my surprise, ELLEN shined through the screen. It was just what I needed. First 7Eleven, then the kindness of the worker there, paying for my meal, taking pity on the cashless foreigner, and now ELLEN. Today was turning out to be just what the doctor ordered.
After a good nights rest, I woke up bright and early and headed to take a 6:45am to Tokyo. I generally stay up ALL night before heading home on an international flight to try and get me back on schedule but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Regardless, I was homeward bound!