Saturday, 11 May 2013

AY 77

While I am watching a mediocre recent adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, the plane is already approaching the Ural mountains. It is the main advantage of using Finnair when travelling to East Asia: they are much faster than most other European airlines. After a short night, I will arrive at Kansai International Airport early tomorrow morning. I hope I will manage to catch a few hours of sleep before we arrive. I probably won’t.

I did not keep my promise to tell you more about life in Vietnam. I would have liked to, but perhaps finishing a PhD dissertation is not compatible with keeping a weblog after all – or, at least, not with updating it regularly. I have to submit my dissertation by the end of August, so whenever I write, I work on the dissertation rather than doing anything else. Until it is finished, therefore, I may not be able to write many blogposts.

After I have submitted, however, I promise to be a more active blogger. From this autumn onwards, I will not only write about my own personal experiences living and travelling in foreign countries, as I have done so far. I also intend to blog more about topics related to my research: religion, (identity) politics, sacred space and environmental issues.

A bit of turbulence. The sky is a gorgeous violet. It is much more beautiful than the computer-animated fairytale landscapes the in-flight entertainment system shows me. Unfortunately, I am asked to close the window shade, so I have to do with the landscapes of Oz instead of the skies of central Russia. Too bad.

We had a good time in Vietnam. In the morning, I would make a breakfast, consisting of baguette with eggs or fish, fresh tropical fruit juice, and Vietnamese milk coffee. After some hours of working, we might go to the local market to have lunch and buy some food for dinner. Alternatively, we might work until the end of the afternoon, then go for a beach walk, a swim, and a fresh seafood dinner at one of the street restaurants. At night, I would often sit and work on the balcony for several more hours. Most days were like that. On weekend days, we would go to Hoi An to visit my parents-in-law, go for a ride in the mountains, or catch a movie. Once, we attended a religious festival for the local whale god, about which I hope to tell you in the future. In sum, three-and-a-half months passed very quickly.

We returned to Norway one month ago. When we arrived, it was still winter. Now, spring has come, and the nature in and around the city is finally awakening. In the meantime, we have continued working on our dissertation respectively MA thesis. Luckily, we have found a new apartment, in the southeastern part of the city, near the fjord. We are looking forward to moving there next month – and, hopefully, welcoming many (old) friends there in the future.

I have written most of my dissertation. I have about two chapters left to write, before putting it all together and editing the whole thing, so I will need the entire summer to finish. I am now visiting Japan one last time, in order to get some additional data for those last two chapters. During this trip, I will attend some religious festivals and a symposium, participate in some shrine activities, and conduct some last interviews. In between, I hope to catch up with some old friends.

The wizard of Oz is playing with fireworks. We are somewhere above Siberia. Time to get some sleep.

If I do not write again here in the near future, do not worry. I am busy finishing my PhD. If everything goes according to plan, I will be back online in September.