Friday, August 22, 2014

The first days at CTU

I've been living in Can Tho for about 5 days now. The flow of CT is much slower than HCMC. The traffic moves a bit slower and crossing the street is not as terrifying as it was. We are living in the international dorms at the very back end of campus near a river. I've done a couple runs through the campus and it is very beautiful. There are many trees surrounded by tall grass with the occasional lily pad pond spread throughout campus. I've seen many dogs on campus, because there is a vet hospital at the front of campus. So far I have noticed 4 species of butterflies who I imagine are drawn to campus due to the many flowers that line the roads. At night the campus is electrified with the sound of fogs and crickets and it reminds me of home. Our second day in CT we did an amazing race challenge where we were split up into groups and had to collect pictures of various locations throughout the city. 2 groups were on bikes and 1 group had xe oms (scooter taxis). I was in the xe om group, because the bike I had purchased the previous day broke down within the first ride. We had about 15 items on our list and we made it through to about 12 of them before time was up.
View from cafe Ho Sen

Veggies at Cai Khe

The quad outside of my dorm

Chinese pagoda Chua Ong

Not many people speak English in CT so I have been lost in translation more than a few times this week. Whether it's being constantly stared at, having my bike break down, getting my key stuck in the wrong bike lock, ordering the wrong food, or getting lost...the communication between me and whoever is helping me has been unsuccessful most times. We have yet to start our Vietnamese language classes so all I know how to say is "my name is kaitlan", "how much", "where is", "the bathroom", "thank you". "no", and "egg". So as you can imagine, I don't get too far communicating on my own. Luckily when it comes to food I can just point at what I want. My stomach has been doing okay with the food...I've had some bad days, but that's to be expected. We found a really good pho shop that's not too far from campus. On campus the food options are banh mi, rice with meat/fish/tofu, or noodles, so I usually adventure outside for one of my meals. I found a really good coffee shop across from campus that has outside seating with a koi pond. I'm having difficulty ordering plain iced coffee with no sugar. The traditional coffee (cafe sua da) comes with a lot of sugar and condensed milk and that's what I've been mainly drinking. 
This cost about $1.75 
On Thursday night we went to Tiny Corner Cafe to meet with some English speaking Vietnamese students. Here is a link to their Facebook page They will probably be posting pictures of that night later this week. There are 12 of us in the program and when we arrived at the cafe there were roughly 40 Vietnamese students. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but all of the students were very nice and extremely outgoing. The girls that I talked to were very interested in my relationship status and my dog Babi. Hopefully I can see the girls again and invite them out. I'm going to try and teach a couple of them yoga! I tried to talk to the girls about the South China Sea conflict, because our blog post this week has to involve a conversation about the conflict. The girls didn't seem interested in talking about the issue. The only comment I was able to get out of the conversation was that Vietnam doesn't have good relations with China. Here's a little history of the conflict: The South China Sea is extremely rich in oil, natural gas, and fishing. China claims a large portion of these waters, including the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. The other countries involved, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, claim overlapping territory with China. The South China Sea has been a conflict for a long time. Originally, the other 6 countries involved were colonies of China and eventually gained their independence and sovereignty. Exclusive Economic Zones state that every country has the right to the natural resources found under the ocean 200 miles off shore. By this rule, China does not have claim to these regions. Tensions escalated in May of this year when a Chinese drilling operation banned the passage of boats in their drilling zone. By international law, all ships have the right to safely pass through these zones. On May 2nd Vietnamese coast guards and Chinese vessels had a stand off to protest the drilling operation. There were multiple collisions and one Vietnamese fishing ship was rammed by a Chinese vessel and sank. There were massive protest in HCMC where Chinese factories were burned. The protests resulted in the death of 4-6 Chinese people, hundreds of injuries, and the accidental (or maybe not) burning of Taiwanese and Korean shops. The U.S.'s position on the South China Sea conflict stated by Hilary Clinton is that if international agreements are broken and the movement of vessels are not free than the U.S. will intervene. So far the U.S. has been aiding Vietnam by building up its navy and increasing economic trading. The U.S. doesn't want China to have full control of the area, because that would give China huge economic advantage. The U.S. wants to create a buffer zone between itself and China by building up South East Asia. By the year 2020 60% of the U.S. navy will be in South East Asia. I personally think that the U.S. should not militarily intervene in the conflict. I think it's a good plan for the U.S. to create a buffer zone in South East Asia, because it will help SEA countries with their economic development and restrict China from having sole access to so many natural resources. Here is a map to explain the territorial boundaries claimed by each country.
Some of us are going out tonight to check out the town. Should be fun with some rice wine and Karaoke!

Love to all,


  1. This was really well written and clear. I love the photos:-) I agree with you that the US should create a buffer zone, but how well do you think we could implement and regulate it?

  2. I also agree that the US should avoid getting the military involved in this conflict - I feel like the chances of even doing so are pretty low, anyways given the recent political climate. But I do feel like China is not likely to back down just because there is a buffer built up around them. I think they have a lot of incentive to make friends with their neighboring countries, but they also seem very adamant about expanding their power and slowly challenging and pushing the US's buttons. My question falls in line with Kelsey's - how can the US maintain a non-military stance while still exerting power in the region? Would a buffer zone in the region do enough to prevent China from exerting a domineering power in the area?