DISCLAIMER: no pics in this post so if that’s what you’re here for, then you’re out of luck
I am sore from all the work that we’ve been doing. My forearms are sore both from shoveling and ESPECIALLY from wringing my clothes out when I hand wash them. My shoulders are sore from lifting 100+lb bags of concrete. My thighs are sore from biking.
But honestly these all don’t really bother me that much.
The soreness that is really sore is directly underneath my torso, between where my 2 legs meet my waist (what do you call that area?) It’s just so sore from sitting on a bike I think. Hopefully it gets better this week.
BUT glad for the soreness! Means I am growing and adapting, and it is a nice difference from being a potato in the States.
Also I have a farmers tan on week 1! Lowkey excited? I’ve always wanted one tbh and not sure why everyone thinks it’s so ugly. Maybe no one will read this part. Plus many mosquito bites, but they don’t itch and I am thankful for that.
Fingers crossed I don’t get malaria!
BIKES AND A FATTY
So let’s talk about our bikes. I recently found out a couple days ago that our bikes are 5 years old. I’d kept on wondering why my bike kept breaking down on me.
Let’s break it down a little bit.
I’m not a very big bike person, and I haven’t really ridden bikes. I live in a really hilly area back home, so it just wasn’t very practical because I wouldn’t have ever used one. I remember riding a Zagster type thing in Boston during Thanksgiving break of my freshman year. But even then I thought I was going to die because there was just so much going on and it was basically my first time riding a bike.
So clearly, I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing.
The first day we got a bike, I didn’t really think much of it. It just seemed like a normal bike. We all went to the Youth Center where the man was fixing them all. Apparently they were a bit behind schedule? But it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
Vu told us all to check our bikes. To be honest, I didn’t really know exactly what that meant, and thinking back I probably should’ve asked. He gave us 30 minutes. He also said to be careful with them because they were old and fragile and not that great quality. My kickstand worked, my seat worked, my brakes worked, and the bike moved. To me, that’s all a bike could really be expected to do.
So we all rode off to go visit the worksite for the first time, and Khang (Jeremy’s roommate) told me my tire was flat. I had no idea. I didn’t know what a normal bike tire was supposed to feel like. It seemed like a normal ride to me…? But then again, I’m really not the best one to determine that. So we had to bike back and make everyone wait while they pumped my tire. I’m glad it happened to me though and not anyone else. I wouldn’t want anyone else feeling like that. Not a good feeling. And now everyone knew to check for their tires and what they were supposed to feel like, etc.
The next day, we had to bike to the worksite in the morning, and I couldn’t find my bike. But I didn’t think it was a big deal; I didn’t think I needed to take the exact same bike. So I just took the bike that was left and started riding to the worksite. Turns out, that bike had a flat tire as well.
This happened 2 more times. Who the hell kept taking the bike I had just pumped?!!! I still have no idea, but it doesn’t really matter now LOL.
At one point, the tire of a different bike I was riding just broke entirely, so we had to go to a bike repair shop and fix it. That’s where I met the 102-year-old man. He worked as a bike repair man. It took a long time but I guess it was nice because I also learned what the inside of a bike tire looks like/how it works.
I also broke the chain of another bike when I was pedaling to the worksite. It was kind of embarrassing because I was trying to catch up to someone up front and I passed a group of us and said I would be way ahead. Then my chain broke and I had to stop and watch as they all passed me again and Dat (Matt’s roommate) helped me fix the chain on my bike. A very awkward moment.
So CLEARLY, I’m not good with bikes. They hate me.
The next day we were biking and one of the roommates was biking next to me. Our conversation went something like this:
“Hey, do you know why your bike keeps breaking?”
“Hmm… not really. Do you know why?”
“It’s because you’re fat”
“Yeah. I hate to say that but it’s because you’re fat.”
I know they didn’t mean it offensively, so I wasn’t angry or offended or anything, but I was still a little taken aback when I first heard that.
It wasn’t the first time I heard something like that though.
When we ride in a taxi, I’m told to get in the front because I am fat/the biggest and shotgun has more space. etc. etc.
AND JUST TO MAKE IT CLEAR, I AM NOT OFFENDED OR ANGRY AT ANYONE BY ANY MEANS. I’m just writing about what I’m hearing and experiencing because it’s different from what I hear/experience in the States and I think that’s what this is all about.
I am bigger than the average Vietnamese person, so I understand where these comments are coming from.
But I am realizing how damaging comments/actions like these can be when you hear them over and over again. I’m fine and not really phased because I know they don’t mean it offensively and comments like that don’t really bother me and I joke around with them about it. But hearing comments like this over and over, I can see how someone can start to believe them. And that can be damaging and dangerous.
I always knew bullying was damaging. I think it’s one of those things you always know. Like how many white people know racism exists, but a lot of them don’t really do anything about it because it doesn’t affect them directly. I think as I’m reflecting more and more about everything that’s happening/happened, these comments included, it’s really starting to hit me how potentially dangerous comments like these, especially in the States, could be. Again, though, I’m glad it’s happening to me and not anyone else on this trip.
It’s just something to think about and stop being passive about when I’m in the States again.
Anyway, Vu said we would be getting new bikes sometime!!!! So hopefully no more flat tires and broken bikes!!!
*** ps. i wrote this a long time ago, and we have had our new bikes for about a week; will update u about it later