Riding my bicycle across Vietnam
While perusing Youtube I stumbled across this 1990s interview with Vietnam veteran Bill Ehrhart. It's a super interesting perspective on the war, and I highly reccomend it. He spoke at length in the Ken Burns documentary which I watched last year as well. I enjoyed hearing him speak 20 years earlier. His message has not changed, but his articulation has.
It's been 23 days since my last update and return to the states. Winter break has come and gone, as well as the first week of the second semester of Junior year. I'm not sure why I haven't touched the blog for so long. I was so diligent with my writing in Vietnam that perhaps I wanted a break, to leave something behind. Nevertheless, it is time to mount the saddle again.
I've had some time to reflect on my trip (about 23 days) and I can say wholeheartedly that I'd like to return. I keep coming back to how different the country was than I imagined it to be. The people, food, culture, scenery, and stories all beautiful, it's truly difficult for me to pick out favorite experiences from the trip, but rather remember it as a whole. When I first returned, I felt a strong feeling of happiness to be home, but from the beginning, the happiness was tinged with loss. Now, the feeling of return has worn off, but the sadness remains, stronger. I remember walking in the streets of Hanoi on our first night, the feeling of wonder and novelty that would not really wear off for the next three weeks. I remember the culinary delights, every day a different indulgence with Vietnam's regional cuisines - and the coffee, oh the coffee! I remember working side by side 15 of my peers to cultivate a field and build a concrete and brick wall. I remember the many unique and sometimes difficult interviews that our class conducted.
Interestingly, I still have not talked too much with my family about it. It's not that I am having a hard time to share, but rather we haven't found a good time. There may be some aspect of my family members wanting the trip to be truly mine, I'm sure they understand that some things I will never share, nevertheless I hope to have an opportunity to share soon.
Some garage updates since my last writing: the go kart is getting a new engine and brake re-work (it might actually work this time). I was given a riding lawn mower that I am interested in making to go faster and look at least somewhat like a vintage Lamborghini tractor. On a recent call with my aunt, she informed me about Tim Allen's Home Improvement show. After looking into it I can confirm that yes, mine will be exactly like that. My most recent acquisition with a friend was a 1980 Motobecane moped. The keen reader would know that I also have a 1981 Motobecane moped. I'm over the moon that I have near twins, the paint is almost identical as well as the mechanics. They will look super cool riding together! This one is going to be more of a full restoration, I'm hoping to make it look as good as possible. Some of these high-level projects really interest me, there is a far superior level of care, attention-to-detail, time, and patience involved, but the end result could be spectacular. I'm actually looking forward to putting in some garage time tomorrow morning before the boa constrictor of the busy weekend ensnares me.
As it always does, winter break went by too fast. When I first came back it was really odd. I didn't feel like it was more than half way through December. It seemed I was coming back to the same Cleveland that I had left three weeks ago, but I had changed. I was happy to have a break from everything, to take some time to just relax. Of course there was some fun too. A birthday dinner, a truly fantastic duck for Christmas dinner (see picture below), a New Years sleepover party, and finally, an overnight trip to Peek n Peak with friends. It was my first time skiing in about six or seven years. I'm excited to get back into it this year and next, it was a lot of fun.
Class started last Monday. This semester is interesting, I am taking Hawken's Entrepreneurship class which consumes five of my seven class slots. The other two are filled with math and French. In entre we are working with three local businesses to help them solve a need or problem, studying as much as we can about start-up companies as we can along the way. I hope that this class will be pivotal for me, not just as an experience, but also in starting to inform my aspirations about the college route. 2019 marks the earnest start of the search. School visits, tests, special classes, yada yada yada. One of the goals that I penned at the beginning of the academic year was to fully embrace the college process. I'm happy to inform you that the goal remains in 2019, but with an asterisk that says to make sure not to lose sight of the end goal, or, other aspects of life. I also had a discussion with my French teacher this afternoon about upgrading to French 5 AP senior year. She reminded me that in the winter of 2019 Hawken will an overseas intensive to France that I've had my eye on for a while. It is a highly competitive trip, and my automatic "ranking" is made lower by the fact that I went on the Vietnam trip. Conversely, I have hosted two exchange students during my tenure, and, I was informed that the typically female-heavy application pool may need more boys for balance. This could be another really unique opportunity of which I will keep you apprised!
Unfortunately I don't think I have much more to add. As school sets into its usual rigor and pace, I find myself about to enjoy a relatively early night to bed, ready for tomorrow's fun. Good night!