Cat Ba

Cat Ba is beautiful. It’s a little island off the coast of Hai Phong. I’ve got a bit of family there. My aunt and all of her children and grand children are there. My aunt owned the ice factory that’s there and her kids (and my other aunt) own hotels and cafe/restaurants there. My parents bought a plot of land a little ways off from the main strip and plan to move there when their parental duties here are over. It’s a scary thought, yes, I have quite a bit of ties to the place.

We were in Vietnam for just under three weeks, and because I didn’t plan my itinerary there, I was constantly hustled hither thither and after a bit of begging my parents, they finally found some time for us to go to visit Cat Ba, although we only spent one night there. We got on the ferryboat at around 10 am, after breakfast. The ride actually only takes about 20-30 minutes, so the island isn’t too far away.

It was a very impromptu trip. We basically decided after we finished eating, that we’d go to Cat Ba for the day, ergo I didn’t have a proper camera on me, only my phone. So here’s a small snapshot of what kind of tiny islands you pass on the way there. The first time my mom’s family tried to send her away as a refugee to Hong Kong (and subsequently Canada), they put her on a boat off of Cat Ba in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, there were coast guard equivalents patrolling the area and my mom got let off on one of these islands. “Monkey Island,” they called it. That was her first unsuccessful attempt to get out of the country, but I digress. These mountainous islands are gorgeous.

Most of the people living on this island are by the coast, where the ferry docks are. There are two main streets, perpendicular to each other, that really is all that the island has to offer. It’s a popular tourist attraction, so you’ll see a lot of white people there. The main strip is just one road and it’s not that long. It might take you 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other (if you don’t go between the hills towards the beaches).

Close by is the famous Ha Long Bay, which we went to about 7 years ago, last time I was in Vietnam. There were a lot of stairs, and then we walked down into this huuuuge cave, all lit up with lights and things. We didn’t have much time this time though.¬†We spent one night there and left the next day at around noon. Sad.

I took a short video of us on top of the boat on the way to Cat Ba:

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OCAD Initiation

Okay, so university is starting soon. Like in 2 days kind of soon. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Very. I’m glad that I do have someone I know coming to school with me (Zizi!) but I am excited to meet some new people too. It’s been a while since I’ve had to go to a place with barely anyone I know and make new friends.

As a kid I usually stayed at a school for one or two years max, so I was constantly being put in new situations with no close friends. Last time that happened was when I moved to Quebec 6 years ago. But then I finished three years there and then went onto Cegep, where I had a bunch of friends going too, and then went on my way and made more friends. So, it’s been just over 6 years since I’ve got to start (almost) afresh, but here’s to an interesting semester!

To help us get acquainted with the grounds and hopefully meet some new people, OCAD organized some events for students a few days before the semester began. The first of which being the OCAD Orientation. Two days of activities and workshops.

They offered us free breakfast and I was won over.

I only went to the second day of orientation, and to be quite honest, it was kind of mostly for the free breakfast and free goodies. I got some maps, a pen, a nice little bag, coupons, etc. I’m a sucker for free things.

After an opening Native ceremony in which some sorts of incense were lit and a song was sung, the group broke up into little workshops. Bookbinding, diy sketchbooks, mask making, “found painting”, and live model sessions were some of the things available. I wanted to do perhaps the sketchbook course and the live modelling session, but duty called and I walked around the campus trying to get some errands done. I needed my student ID, GO pass, TTC student card, and some other stuff. None of which got completed because of some student loan complications, but I did get my ISIC card, if that counts for anything.

So, after a rather despairing day, Zizi invited me to her new crib for lunch and a beer to make my day a little better. I ended up spending a couple of hours there where she fed me a hearty tomato vegetable soup and showed me around the apartment. She has a studio space upstairs, which is amazing. I would love to move out, but alas.

The next day was an organized peer mentor group trip to the Toronto Islands, rain or shine! We took a ferry (my first!) with a group of about 20 people, for a nice day on the island playing team building sports and meeting new people. We got there at about 12:15, had lunch, and then head out to the field to play some flag football. However, just as we got to the field, it started raining mega-hard and we all huddled under some tree, debating if we should play or not.

We all got soaking wet and head back to shelter, hoping to wait it out. But alas, it was not to be and we just head back to the ferry to go back to the mainland. Even if we didn’t get to play games, we did get to know each other, which was nice. I met two other people in third year graphic design, so hopefully I’ll be seeing them in class this coming Tuesday.

Back to the mainland!

In an effort to save myself from money, I’m going to be walking from the train/bus station to school instead of paying for a ttc pass, which is far too expensive on top of a GO pass. I am not a walker, a shaker, or a mover, as many of you well know, but weather permitting, I’ll be trekking just over 4km each day. I am hoping this will make me a tiny bit healthier, tone these rhino legs, and save me some money. I’ve first got to invest in an umbrella though, for those rainy days.

Well! It is Sunday. I’ve only got a couple of days to go before I’m officially a university student, and I’ve already got to get started on a few assignments. Life continues!