I finished my last class for this week at 5pm and loaded up my backpack with books for lesson preparation for tomorrow and headed for home. It was very hot, but as I walked through the market, I stopped by the rotisserie duck stand.
It always smells so delicious, I decided to buy one. They weren't quite cooked, so I sat down (on a tiny little 15cm stool) and had an icy orange juice at the little stall behind me and waited for about ten minutes.
Before long my duck was ready... the cook's boyfriend added some flair to my photo...
She chopped up the duck and fitted it all neatly into two take-away food containers, and included a bag of soya sauce, and a generous handful of Vietnamese mint... and that's what I eventually had for my dinner (with plenty left over for lunches next week)... It cost 150,000D (about $6).
On the way home I also bought half a watermelon, a pomello and a bunch of fresh lychees. They cost $2.50 a kilo and are just delicious.
Since I had my camera handy, I took more photos on the way home... so here they are along with some I took the other day...
This very friendly old lady cleans, repairs and sells second-hand shoes
This is Texas BarBQ, where I have lunch with the ex-pat ladies on Wednesdays
At the moment, the streetscapes are really vibrant with flowering trees.
The red ones the locals call 'flamboyant' (they look like poincianas to me) and the purple ones look like they might be in the crepe myrtle family
The flowers are quite beautiful
This is the restuarant on the corner just near my house... I took this photo at around 1:30 on Wednesday, when most locals are having a snooze, so it wasn't busy then
They sell cold fresh beer for just 20 cents a glass (schooner size) which is very light and refreshing, and the family who run it are always very friendly
You can see Whang (?) the proprietress inside. She is very friendly and always waves and calls Hello, madame! when I walk past. I haven't eaten there for weeks because these days I usually get dinner at the school canteen, but today as I was walking past laden with back-pack, fruit and that duck (which was smelling delicious) she was sitting outside catching the breeze at a table with those little blue plastic chairs with arms that I have been avoiding since I got here for fear that (a) I wouldn't fit into one and (b) that it would break if I did!... Anyway, she waved me over to sit down and have a chat... and I am delighted to report that not only do I now fit into those little chairs, it didn't threaten to break after all. Her son, Khien, asked me if I'd like a beer, but I had just bought myself a sugar cane juice at the stand next door...
I took this photo of the sugar cane stand the other night... you can see Whang's restaurant in the background. This was at about 10pm, so it was close to closing time. Earlier in the night the pavement would be crowded with diners.
Anyway, this evening I sat down for about half an hour and had a bit of a conversation with Khien doing his best with very limited English. A few other people sat down to listen and once again I wished I could just talk with them in Vietnamese instead of sit there smiling and speaking very slowly a few sentences of simple English hoping to be understood. I have looked at a couple of programs on-line for learning Vietnamese, but I have put it aside for the moment because I always seem to have lessons to prepare...
So there you have it. Hai Phong no longer looks like the drab dusty place it was when I arrived at the end of their winter. Spring has sprung and summer's beginning. I have been told to expect tropical downpours, ridiculously high humidity and extremely hot days and nights... can't wait for that. No denying it, already the classrooms that don't have functioning airconditioning end up like saunas after an hour with 20+ people in them because even though the fans are going flat out, there are no windows and the door is usually shut! It's always a shock to come out and find the outside air temperature (35 degrees at least...) is cooler than the classroom! These days I carry a face-washer with me to mop my face.
Then I get to my room and have the fan on and the aircon and it's just lovely. Right now it's time I left the cool of my room and venture out to the bathroom for a shower so I can go to bed clean... I can't put it off any longer, I'm tired!