Chris and I have reached our new home, Grande Prairie. Today the sun was shining on the fluffy cumulus clouds and the air smelt of the end of summer as I looked upon the solid yellow trees. It was our first full day in Grande Prairie.
Chris and I visited the local TELUS store to find out the plans and information regarding purchasing an iPhone. My mind felt jumbled and confused. The over manicured, over made-up woman provided us with the worst customer service possible, but that was really no surprise since it was TELUS.
Chris and I then roamed many aisles in a nearby store looking for toothpaste, hairspray, razors and shaving cream. The prices made us both overwhelmed, depressed and stressed out. We had to stick together just help support one another through the aisles.
Canada is expensive compared to S.E. Asia. I knew that. I just didn’t know the technological dependence, outrageous prices and running out of money would make me feel this stressed out. I have faith that in one month I’ll be getting back into the rhythm of Canadian life. I also have no doubt northern life will continue to entertain and educate me for the next couple of years.
We have both experienced both culture shock and extreme jet lag. The very first thing I noticed during our layover in L.A. and then back in Canada was, “Men are huge here.” Of course this is compared to the men of S.E. Asia. Until almost one week after getting back we were sleeping for only four hours a night or not falling asleep until 6:00 or 8:00 am! I have never flown across the Pacific Ocean before. It’s definitely a LOT harder to deal with jet lag coming from S.E. Asia than it is from Europe.
Cu Chi Tunnels
I know I will have many more stories about Grande Prairie but for now here’s a completely unrelated story about a place in Vietnam.
When we visited Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam we took a day tour to a place called, Cu Chi Tunnel Historic Vestige Site. It is a maze of underground tunnels located 70 kilometers from the city. The tunnels were carved by the north Vietnamese during the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
From the surface the tunnels were completely camouflaged. The entrances were kept only large enough for the Vietnamese to fit in or out and were, of course, also camouflaged. Needless to say, American soldiers found their way in the tunnels but the vast majority of them probably never found their way out.
The north Vietnamese also constructed many different types of booby-traps in the surrounding landscape as well as inside the tunnels.
When we walked along the modern-day paths of the Cu Chi Tunnels museum we were surrounded by lush forest. It was peaceful, beautiful and quite hard to imagine the landscape and its people engulfed in war until I heard a loud “BANG!” I stopped immediately and squatted down a little.
“Gunfire?” I thought. Sure enough it was. I’ve got to admit, the real, live gunfire from the on-site shooting range really added to the authenticity of the historical war area.
At the end of touring the tunnels we had the opportunity to pick a gun and shoot it. Without hesitation Chris said, “An AK47.”
“How many bullets should we get?” I asked.
“Um, 3 or 4 each might be okay.”
We asked one of the four men in military-like uniforms, behind the desk, for 8 bullets.
“They come in tens for the AK47,” he replied. And before we could fully answer, “Okay”, after handing over our $15 USD, we were rushed off with one of the men in uniform. Only seconds later I found myself in a concrete hallway with two guns mounted at each shooting station. I looked out across a dirt field with high dirt walls on either side and a huge dirt wall at the end with sand bags on top. Four pictures of animals were evenly spaced in front of the dirt wall.
Suddenly someone was firing down the hall. I thought Chris was about to shoot but I didn’t have my camera settings ready. I couldn’t hear him or the man well and before I knew it another person was shooting an automatic machine gun down the opposite direction of the shooting hall. Needless to say, I was flustered. I barely managed to get my camera settings so I could film Chris and everytime a shot was fired the camera and I jumped a little.
Pathetic. I’d make a horrible soldier….well a horrible, untrained soldier.