Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life in Thai Nguyen

Here's a slide show cataloging our first month or so in Thai Nguyen. There are quite a few pictures of our class of seven students, which Kristin and I co-taught for our first three weeks here. You'll also see some shots of our new home when we first moved in. It has come along nicely since then.

Enjoy the video!

Life in Thai Nguyen from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

Much love and thanks for sharing life with us,
Will and Kristin

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hanoi Circus

Recently Kristin and I checked out the Hanoi Circus. Contrary to the ads we saw on the street, motorbike-driving bears didn't make an appearance on this particular night. However, we did get to see monkeys ride bicycles, which more than made up for it in my opinion.

We had a great time and hope you enjoy our "best of" video montage.

Hanoi Circus from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

Much love and thanks for sharing life with us,
Will and Kristin

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Langauge School Graduation

Here's the video of our graduation ceremony. We had a blast celebrating with our Vietnamese teachers who have worked so hard on our behalf these past few months.

Enjoy the music and the moves.

Language School Graduation from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

Much love and thanks for sharing life with us,
Will and Kristin

Monday, June 21, 2010


Here are some clips of our last three and a half months in Hanoi. Hope you enjoy the video!

Phở-tolog from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

*Phở - Vietnam's classic noodle soup

Much love and thanks for your partnership,
Will and Kristin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Field Trip!

Last week Hanoi University took us on a field trip to Bac Ninh, a city only about 15 kilometers outside of Hanoi. We had a great time and learned a lot about traditional Vietnamese culture.

The first stop along the way was to the house of a family who supported themselves through the trade of making Wedding Cakes. I say "making" rather than "baking" because ovens are few and far between in Vietnam. Rather, these doughy patties of rice, papaya, and lotus seeds, are boiled to perfection, all the while wrapped inside of nature's original cellophane, the banana leaf. The eating of the cake also takes a different form, too. After the two sets of parents have agreed to the matrimonial match of their children, they eat the cakes to signify their consent.

After the cake making, in true field trip spirit, we brown bagged our lunch and bought a round of sugarcane juice from a stand situated under a bright blue tarp. Once lunch had settled, we meandered around the neighborhood to take in a bit of the local scenery.

Lastly we came to the famed Den Do Temple, the main event of the trip. This was the home of Ly Thai To, the king who moved Vietnam's capital from Ninh Binh to Hanoi through an historic edict that will celebrate it's 1,000 year anniversary this October. Since then, the Vietnamese people have preserved this historic site and it now serves as a shrine to him and his lineage of seven subsequent monarchs who carried on the Ly Dynasty.

In keeping with this spirit of preserving the past, we also had the chance to listen to some famous folk songs that had originated in the area. We even tried accompanying the performers on one of the tunes. We were nervous at first, but you'd be surprised how much confidence a really big hat can provide.

And of course, no excursion is complete without the group pic.

Thanks for reading! We can't thank you enough for your love and partnership!

-Will and Kristin

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2 months in

2 months in Hanoi, and we love it here. With its tight alleyways and helmet-clad traffic, it's an easy city to love. But honestly, to feel this good about our surroundings, we've had to undergo some noteworthy adjustments. In some ways, every mundane activity is relearned to fit the question, "How would a Vietnamese person do this?" And because our goal for the next three years is to become a little Vietnamese ourselves, we take joy in sharing with you the ways we've adapted to our new home.

A New Way to Eat:

A New Way to Travel:

A New Way to Celebrate:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's March Madness without the VU Tortoises?

Last week we took an excursion to Hanoi's famous Temple of Literature, Vietnam's 1st university. The rich history of the place pulses through every inch (2.54 centimeters) of its beautiful architecture. As such, we figured the best way to share it was via video. So break out your proverbial trapper keeper and enjoy this inspiring site of academic antiquity.

The Temple of Literature from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Going to Class

A Will's eye-view of our regular commute to Hanoi University.

Going to Class from Will Bankston on Vimeo.

Thanks and much love,
Will and Kristin

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello From Hanoi

As of today, we’ve been in Hanoi for two weeks, or, as some of our more foppish readers may call it, a fortnight.

And that’s apt, as miles have expanded to kilometers, and degrees of Fahrenheit have shrunk to Celsius. In this transitionary stage, the conversion makes you feel like you’re going faster and fools you into thinking that the temperature is cooler, both of which are nice when you travel mainly by bicycle and are situated in a near tropical region.

Cultural adjustment though -the comprehensive thing that it is- claims much more than measurement. Over these past two weeks, we’ve worked hard to find our footing amidst this vibrant country in which we’re so grateful to live. The first step has been to make our room into a home.

For at least the next few months of our language study, we’re staying in the Newland House. You approach it from the bustling street of Nguyen Chi Thanh.

Then you hang a right at Ngo 180, and if you’re hungry, grab an egg sandwich or some noodle soup, from the stand at the corner. The sandwich, though a far cry from that syrup saturated breakfast breakthrough known as the McGriddle, is a a great way to start the day.

Follow the Ngo until it T’s and make a left.

You can’t miss our place from there. We’re just a little bit up on the right.

Take the stairs up to the fifth floor. We’re in room 502. One time Kristin mended some shorts in the room. (Thanks for the table cloth D.)

Here’s the other side of our room. We like to study here. We also have an acoustic axe in the corner. (Dad, that's the same guitar you sent for Christmas a few years ago.)

If you go up one level, to the open aired sixth floor, you’ll find two washing machines and one drier. I can’t express how rare driers are in Vietnam, or even all of Asia for that matter. And as you can see from many the clothes hanging from racks, the drier still has a lot of hands to shake and babies to kiss before its fully accepted. Besides, it can’t be easy keeping up with the hot Hanoi sun.

(Tim and Carolyn, thanks for the hamper! It's been a lifesaver.)

Most of our teammates, 6 out of the other 11, also call the Newland House their home. They, too, are studying language and are set to be placed at a university somewhere in Vietnam this coming Fall. For the meantime, we’re cherishing the fellowship and looking forward to sharing this transition together.