Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 6- Water Puppet Show

Yesterday started as usual- a cold shower, meet at the PH at 8, then Ky Quang orphanage for the morning. The kids were really riled up and going crazy and we had a really hard time with them. They were fighting over books and toys and hitting and kicking each other, especially hitting the more disabled and defenseless kids. They made a game out of it and had to be severely scolded, although discipline doesn't really work on them. They have to be placed in their cribs so that they can't interact with the other kids if it gets really bad. They even started spitting on each other. I generally like this orphanage over Thi Nghe because the kids are more active but yesterday took a lot out of me. 

We went back to the PH for lunch afterwards, then Jack and I went to the sports complex to see about signing up for the gym there. We asked for it by making obnoxious gestures of lifting weights and got a shake of the head as a response, although Ken told us that they have a gym. When we told him we couldn't find it he told us he would come the next time to translate. 

In the afternoon I had my first Vietnamese lesson at the PH. My teacher didn't show up so another girl who was hanging out volunteered to step in. We reviewed the alphabet, which is the same as ours except for omitting Z and J, although the letters have somewhat different sounds. Then we wrote down some basic conversational phrases like "good morning" and "what is your name" and translated them into Vietnamese. I couldn't even pronounce the words not to mention memorize how they sound. 

Whereas germanic and latin- based languages use the tongue and lips to speak, Vietnamese uses the chest and throat. It is written using English letters but also has accents that direct how to say it: either raising or lowering the tone at the end, raising then lowering it, or any combination of these. Every combination of letters has 6 possible meanings depending on the type of accent used and where it is placed, and the meanings are completely unrelated. It is not going to be easy to learn Vietnamese.

My teacher, who's name I forget, said a phrase and I repeated it. Once she realized I couldn't say the words right she broke the sounds into syllables for me to practice. I eventually was able to make the individual sounds but when it came time to put them together I struggled again. She would pronounce a word and I would repeat it in what I thought was the same way but she would correct me, and I still didn't hear the difference. So frustrating.
Pic: My teacher and I after the lesson
After the lesson Mikaela, Emma, and I went to a nearby park to go for a run. It was about a kilometer around, and we ran around it 5 times. Because of the pollution and humidity I was drenched and short of breath after the first lap, but I felt really good afterwards. We were told by Minh and KEn that we had to run in the park as opposed to around the neighborhood because if you run in the streets the police will think you did something wrong and chase after you.

I ate dinner and showered, then most of the volunteers and I went to District 1 to a water puppet show. It cost about 4 dollars to get in, and upon entering I again felt like I just overpaid for another tourist trap. The stage looked cheesy and the seating looked too new and comfortable for the experience to be authentic. The performance lacked a story line, but I again was proved wrong. The live music was fantastic, and the musicians looked very enthusiastic. The stage was a pool of water with a structure built behind it and there were green screens just above the water. The puppets moved with very elegant movements, and I spent much of the show trying to figure out how they did it. I believe that the puppets were on long sticks that had different levers and strings that made their hands, feet, tails, etc. move, however I could not figure out how they made the puppets move past each other without the sticks bumping into each other or getting intertwined. I was exhausted by the end of the show and went home to sleep early.
Pics: 1. The dance of the fairies. 2. Half of the musicians 3. The fisherman catching a fish

I also took some pictures of the house dog, Abu, the chef, and the food we get at every meal. 

Pics: 1. Coba the cook 2. Coba putting bunny ears on Ken while he naps 3. The spread of food we get twice daily 4. Abu on my lap. She is an awesome little dog 

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