VIETNAM FUN (or no) FACTS

#1 puppies: yes, dogs: no

If you ever see a dog in Mui Ne that is more than 1 year old, you can consider yourself lucky. Puppies can be seen everywhere, but grown up dogs are very rare and that’s because… Vietnamese simply eat them. As sad and repulsive as it is for me, this is just a cultural thing that one has to accept. Still, it always bothers me when I see a cute puppy running down the street and I know that sooner or later it will probably end up in someone’s meat&rice…

#2 motorbikes, helmets, vietnamese driving licence

Saigon, the motorbike city

Saigon, the motorbike city

In Vietnam motorbikes are way more common on the streets than cars. Wearing helmets is obligatory – if the police stops you and you don’t have a helmet, a standard $10 fee is charged. If they check you for a vietnamese driving licence (which you obviously won’t have) they confiscate your bike and you have to pick it up at the police station later (after paying a fine). Helmets can be bought almost everywhere and they are pretty cheap, but most of them are just a colorful piece of plastic with a strap, so they provide zero protection in case of an accident.

#3 cheap RUM

Rum is THE thing in Vietnam. Mixed with coke and ice, it is our must have on every night out. Perfect while playing pool or relaxing on beanbags in one of our favourite clubs. Prices in stores range from 20.000 to 80.000 ($1-$4) for a bottle.

#4 Living&Giving/Buddha Beach/Dragon Beach

Even though its name changes a few times every season, this pub/club is absolutely the best to hang out with friends in the evenings. Open air area with beds, beanbags and a pool table is perfect for chatting and meeting new people. Everyone hangs out there. Happy Hour from 8PM till 10PM.

#5 Lam Tong

chicken springrolls and iced lemon tea

chicken springrolls and iced lemon tea

Lam Tong is THE place where everyone goes for breakfasts/lunch/dinner/late night snack. The food here is VERY GOOD and VERY CHEAP… that’s a lot of ‘very’ here. Banana pancakes with milk, tofu with lemon grass and chili, chicken or pork in claypot, fresh springrolls, lemon juice, jinseng pineapple milk… I could go on and on about how good all these things are. Once you’ve tried Lam Tong food your standards for what is ‘good&cheap’ will never be the same again… The only downside of this place is the waiting time – sometimes you would get your food super quickly, but often you have to wait way too long, especially when there are lots of people… this is not SO bad though, as in Lam tong you can ALWAYS see familiar faces from all over Mui Ne – chances of sitting bored and alone at table are close to zero πŸ™‚

#6 Malibu kitespot

where all the surfers go

where all the surfers go

It is true that the most popular kitesurfing area in Mui Ne is wavy and choppy and just crappy in general. However, about 20 minutes ride from the town, right after Mui Ne fishing village, there is another kitesurfing spot which everyone calls Malibu. It’s a place where surfers usually go, as the waves there can get up to 3m, but it is also very nice for kitesurfing – perfectly flat water everywhere between the waves! if you ever go to Mui Ne, don’t forget to ask locals about this place, it’s definitely worth seeing πŸ™‚

#7 sugar cane juice

That's how sugar cane juice is made!

That’s how sugar cane juice is made!

costs only 5.000dong (25 cents), iced sugar cane juice is one of my Vietnamese guilty pleasures. It’s cold, sweet and it quenches your thirst like nothing else!

#8 money

This is the thing that confused me profoundly right after I’ve arrived. Jesus Christ, so many zeroes on every friggin’ note! One dollar is roughly 20.000 here! And yet, for 1$ you can buy 2 bottles of water OR a bottle of rum OR 4 coconut cookies OR a sandwich OR four cups of sugarcane juice… and a small fun fact – money in Vietnam is WATERPROOF, which means you no longer have to worry that you forgot a 100.000 note in your boardshorts and went for a ride…

#9 funny coconut-shaped boats

Rowing this thing straight could be an olympics dyscipline.

Rowing this thing straight could be an olympics dyscipline.

You can see these boats everywhere – wooden/plastic, round, blue, looking like a half of a coconut, these boats are used by locals for fishing. There’s no engine or a normal helm or a rudder – these boats have only one paddle which moves from one side to another, making the boat move forward. obviously it is very hard to steer – if you don’t do it properly, you will just end up going in never ending circles…

That would be all for now. But just because adding pictures is so fun, here are a few more…

What is better than a fresh banana or a coconut served straight on the beach?

What is better than a fresh banana or a coconut served straight on the beach?


the port in Mui Ne fishing village

the port in Mui Ne fishing village


Food market in Mui Ne. Cheap local food, sugar cane juice, fruit and vegetables. Yes!!

Food market in Mui Ne. Cheap local food, sugar cane juice, fruit and vegetables. Yes!!

May wind be with you,
Suzana

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Vietnam, the place where magic is still alive.

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If you’re a person who desn’t believe in wizards, spells and all the mystical voodoo madness, you have surely never been to Vietnam. I am absolutely positive that’s the case, because if you have ever spent here at least a few days, you would for sure know that Vietnam is magic. It is magic, in its pure unravished form and just as any other magical place it has sucked me in, wrapped its sticky, hot fingers around my soul and proclaimed me its property, making me completely unable to remember about all the things that once seemed important. I’ve been stuck in this extatic state for over a month now, enjoying my every hour, every minute of every day and wondering how can a person be so utterly happy.

Vietnam is a place where motorbikes rule the streets, where everyone can be a millionaire and where censorship is still perfectly alive and kickin’. The air is hot and moisty, iced coffee almost unbearably sweet and seafood as popular as McDonalds back home.

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The place where I spend most of my time is obviously the beach and looking back I think I chose the best kiteschool here I possibly could. C2sky kitecenter has all I could wish for – a lazy dog wandering around, a comfy hammock with a perfect sea view, a neverending supply of iced tea for anyone who wishes to quench their thirst after a good kitesesh. And most importantly – it has amazing, AMAZING people. People who welcomed me as one of their own as soon as I arrived, who shared their time and stories with me and who showed me all that I needed to see. I never expected to find here friends who would make me want to stay and yet I did and I am grateful for that. Vietnam is not my dream place, this is not yet the place where I one day stop and stay, but I definitely feel this is the closest I have ever been to finding it. Vietnam makes me believe my place, THE place, exists somewhere and the mere thought of that is exciting.

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I’ll be here for only 3 days more, but somehow I’m not especially sad. I’ve made so many good memories, met so many incredible people, discovered so many things… everything good must eventually end, but if you really get the best of the time you have, you don’t feel regrets at the end. i was supposed to be here for a month, but I’ve already stayed two weeks longer than that, and now I feel that this is exactly the amount of time I was meant to have here. Lately, I’ve been waking up with the “time to move on” feeling in my stomach again, so I’m pretty sure it’s time to go. I’m looking forward to my next destination, to all the new stories, places and people that await me.

I was born to do this. Thanks to Vietnam I know it now better than ever before.

More pictures from Vietnam can be found in the gallery on I KITE IT Facebook page!

May wind be with you,
Suzana

Turning Yellow For RedSeaZone! :)

Had a super nice afternoon sesh today, thanks to Karolina for the pictures πŸ˜€ Also finally landed something new unhooked, woo-hoo! ^^ The T-shirt was supposed to show my school’s logo, but that part has failed I guess… And why oh why is the tide getting lower everyday? NOOO!!!


photos: Karolina MaΕ‚ek

I took a lot of pictures of other people from RedSeaZone riding, will upload them soon so you can see how those guys rock! πŸ˜€

May wind be with you,
Suzana

The Universe Leads My Way

Two weeks ago, when I was sitting in Polonia Cafe, a slightly crazy yet strangely comfortable pub in Hurghada, the weirdest thing has happened. It had been windless for 3 weeks already and so I had decided to forget Egypt and move on to some other country. After some consideration I chose Vietnam, but when I was trying to buy the plane ticket, every time I pressed the ‘finalize the transaction’ button on the airlines’ website, the whole page would crash, making the reservation impossible. I was trying with no luck for HOURS and finally in the middle of the night I gave up. I was angry, disappointed, half-believing that maybe Vietnam was simply not meant to be.

But it WAS meant to be. Just not the way I planned it to.

The next MORNING, just a few hours after I failed to buy the ticket to Vietnam,
I got an email with a short-term freelancing offer from redSeaZone, a Polish school in El Gouna. This is a place which I’ve wanted to check out for years now but somehow never did. And the funniest thing is, the job was on very good terms, it was supposed to last only one week and start EXACTLY on the same date on which I originally planned to fly to Vietnam… if I had bought my ticket the night before, I could never have said ‘yes’ to this job and the opportunity would pass me by.

But I couldn’t buy the ticket.

And so I did say ‘yes’ to the job.

And the next day I went on the airlines’ website again and bough the ticket to Vietnam for one week later than originally planned without any problems. The website worked on the first try.

But that’s not all. Right after I bought the ticket to Vietnam, my friend who works there at a kiteschool contacted me and said she’ll be absent exactly during the time of my stay AND that I can live in her room and work in her place. I swear to God, she didn’t know before the dates of my stay and I didn’t know she won’t be there.

And so in the end I ended up getting a very cool short-term job in El Gouna, then a one-month job in Vietnam which will allow me to cover all my expenses and then a job on Philippines. It all just happened by itself. If this happened to someone else, I would never believe it.

But it all happened to me, and if I didn’t believe in these things before, I believe in them now. It’s like the universe is watching me, telling me “you’re going in the right direction kid, let me help you and throw some opportunities your way”. This is amazing. And a bit scary. But as I am sitting on my bed in the instructors’ appartment in El Gouna, I am completely certain that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

This is magic. And for that, if nothing else, I am grateful.

I have been in El Gouna for 4 days already, and from day 1 it’s been windy ALL THE TIME. A lot of teaching and even more riding riding RIDING so I didn’t have time (and energy) to focus on anything else. But from tomorrow on I’ll try to take some pictures and write a bit about my life here.

After all if the Universe is leading me this way, I better smile wide, close my eyes and follow without complaints πŸ˜‰

Taken today:

May wind be with you,
Suzana

About endings and beginnings.

The most annoying thing about endings is that they come too soon when you don’t want them to. This is widely known and very obvious, as time flies by fast when you spend it in great company and in a great place. And so, my stay on Paros is coming to an end – only four days left on the island, and at this time next week I’ll be in a bus to the airport, partly sad about leaving, partly excited about my next destination.

During the past two months I have managed to: loose my passport and make a new one, see Athens, eat fresh figs from a tree for the first time, teach 29 students, learn some new tricks, kitesurf in 45knts, get in an accident, try a surfboard, see a sea turtle, make new friends and see old ones, make my first vid, get interviewed for national TV, decide a few important things, eat the best cheesecakes from the best bakery on Paros…

…and the biggest achievement so far, the number of sea urchin spikes in my feet in 2012: ZERO πŸ˜€

The season has already ended and practically no one is here anymore, so it does not feel wrong to pack my bags and go. But the thing is, I already got used to everything here, to the apartment, to the surroundings, to all the sheep I see every morning from the kitchen window… it feels very comfortable and home-like and when I think I have to trade it for something new and unknown I am not that excited to do so. But I know very well that I ALWAYS get this feeling, every single time, but as soon as my feet land on a new ground it all goes away and all that stays is hunger for new and unknown.

This time I’m gonna spend in Egypt around 2 months. I’m staying in Hurghada again, but hopefully I’ll be able to go to Safaga, Luxor and Marsa Alam as well as I have some friends over there whom I want to see πŸ™‚ And yes, this time it will all be different and no, I’m not gonna be an idiot anymore. Compared to Paros, Egypt is not the windiest place on earth, but that does not bother me really, especially that I have a little vid project in mind that has nothing to do with wind or water… When you know you’ll be kiting in a month and two and four and more, your point of view on some things changes greatly πŸ˜€

It’s nice to finally be on the right path.

May wind be with you,
Suzana

I KITE IT VIDEO #1: Another Day In Parosdise

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! It’s here, IT’S HERE!!! My first video ever, straight from sunny and windy Greece! There’s a lot of ranting, some riding and maybe one or two closeup shots of sheep… πŸ˜‰ It was so much fun while shooting, and even though it’s nothing “super pro”, I hope you’ll enjoy it and maybe consider visiting us on Paros next year πŸ˜€

So without further ado:

I started shooting this video very late in summer when the season was practically over and the island almost completely deserted, so I did not manage to capture the usual atmosphre and liveliness of Paros when it’s in its prime… I guess my talking about it will have to suffice πŸ™‚ Next video will be from Egypt and this time I’m gonna film from the very beginning and focus on local lifestyle and the real life over there… so there’s gonna be less me, more other people πŸ™‚

Big thanks go to all the people who made this vid possible.

filming: Alex Tetsis, Sandra Schnegg, Zuza”Suzana” Czaplinska, Joanna Dee
editing: Zuza “Suzana” Czaplinska
music: Work Drugs – Dirty Dreams

Thanks for all the support:
George Georgoudakis
PAROSKITE.GR

you can follow my adventures more closely on the FB page:
I KITE IT Facebook

May wind be with you,
Suzana

I’m gonna be on national TV and shooting a vid is fun!

Oh boy, oh boy, where do I start? πŸ™‚
So, the national TV. Okay.

So yesterday a group of Polish journalists from one of the major Polish national TV channels suddenly appeared in our school, asking for an interview about Paros. They wanted to know about our wind conditions, the school and kitesurfing in general… and since I’m the only Polish person in Paroskite at the moment, they asked for my participation. I was out on water and shooting some footage at that time – lycra, boardshorts, wet hair, water dripping everywhere etc… not exactly the perfect state for an interview, but my boss dragged me out of water, they attached some cables and this little funny square microphone to the back of my shorts and pushed me in front of all those huge pro cameras… All the filming crew was very nice though, so despite the fact that it felt a bit weird I enjoyed it a lot πŸ™‚ After the interview they took some footage of me riding on water, then gave me their card and told me that after they release the episode about Paros on TV (December) they will send me a DVD as a souvenir… and after that they packed all the cameras and microphones into their van and -POOF- they were gone.

Lately I’ve had so much free time I didn’t know anymore what to do with it. It was windless for a whole week (for the first time since I came here!) and on top of that my shoulder was screwed up pretty badly, so I couldn’t really go and do anything active… In the end I started playing with my camera, filming this and that around my house just to kill time and forget about the pain. One thing led to another, I got back on water yesterday (yay!) and my friends filmed some more scenes of me riding… and I think I will make a small edit out of all that. It’s pretty fun to walk around with the camera and film things, so I’ll just continue for a while and see what comes out of it. My riding is still as lame as ever, but who cares, shooting a vid is fun! (…and my boss said I can take all the new 2012 equipment for the vid if I want. Not that this is the reason I want to make the vid. Or maybe a little. Okay, a lot. Best Kiteboarding GP c-shape kiteys all for MEEE, in all sizes I want~!)

Some screenies below πŸ™‚

May wind be with you,
Suzana