Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hello's and Greetings

I was surprised how tired I felt this morning even after a good night's sleep, so I had a very quiet morning settling in. Tony has a couple of days off, so he headed out for Doson Beach for some R&R. I had the pleasure of surprising Mr Cường with a phone call to come and take me to school at 4pm. (He's my xe-om driver, and even though we have VERY little language in common, we manage to communicate very well.) So it was just like old times, hopping onto the back of his bike for the ride to VAIE.

The class I had been scheduled to teach was cancelled (as is often the case when it's a new class waiting on numbers) so I enjoyed catching up with those who were there - Ann, Lina, Amie and Lotus, the office staff, the security guards, and even a couple of early-bird students. Shortly after I arrived there was a mighty cheer from the receptionist ... Ian had just walked in. He is greatly loved, and everyone will be delighted to have him back. He flew in this afternoon and will take up tools next week.

Ann and I discussed contracts and visas etc and I picked up the books for the two lessons for tomorrow night and walked home. It has been such a long time since I was free to walk home at this busy time of day, and the market street was buzzing. I stood on the footpath and soaked it all in.

The wonderfully fresh fruit and vegies are displayed to best advantage in neat piles.

I stopped off and bought watermelon and pineapples from my pomello lady. She seemed pleased to see me back.
While I was waiting for her to peel my pomello, Rose - one of my students from last year came up to with her little sisters to say hello. Sophie was also in one of my Kiddie classes. It was lovely to see them again.
Many times the way home I was recognised and people called out hello's and greetings. Thảo (the lady who has a tea stall nearby) was keen to have chat. Pity I can't understand Vietnamese, though! It was the same when I caught up with Bich and   the ladies from the eating place on our lane. They called me in and welcomed me back like a long lost friend.

After he finished uni Khánh came over to take me out for dinner.

We went to the street stalls on Lạch Tray and I had something I haven't tried before...  It's like a rice porridge and I had it with duck meat (cháo ngan), Khánh had his with heart meat. It's might not look like much, but the smell is wonderful and it is perfect comfort food for a chilly night.

This is the kitchen for this street restaurant. All of it, stools and tables, blue tarp... the lot will be packed up into a large covered trolley and manually pushed home again at about 10.30 each night, to be set up again tomorrow in time for lunch.
And this kitchen next door is for bánh cuốn. The man on the right is steaming the rice pancakes ... now you can't get any fresher than that!! No wonder it tastes so good!

What can I say? Khánh was still hungry, so I couldn't let him eat alone, now could I?

FRIDAY, 16th March

Lynh has been teaching Will, Emma, Gene, Becki and Tony Vietnamese. They have been having lessons twice a week, and this morning Will picked me up and took me to Gene and Becki's for this morning's class. It's pretty daunting! Will has been working really hard and is way ahead of the others. He's right up to speed on all the vocabulary they've covered so far. Emma isn't far behind. No comment on the others' progress... ! However I am determined to give it a fair go, but I'll need a lot of help with mastering the tones, so I am glad that my friends are keen give me a hand. It’s a lot of fun and Lynh is extremely patient!

After our class I walked up to Texas BarBQ to meet Helle and Uschi for lunch. It was such a delight to hear that Helle is still here. When I left last year she was expecting to be living in China by now, but will not make the move till the end of April, so we get to spend six weeks hanging out before she goes! How lovely!  We had a lively time catching up on all the news and planned day trip to Hanoi for next week, since Uschi will be there with her husband for a couple of days on business.

That’s me eating fajitas, and Uschi with a Caesar salad.

Tonight I had two classes. It was just as Ian had predicted... it’s as if I hadn’t been away – right back into it, having a ball. One of my classes included students from last year, so that was great. I saw many students about from last year, all keen to say hello. It was raining when we finished, so Sun, the security guard gave me a ride home... just like old times!!!

SATURDAY, 17th March

The weather here is pretty miserable. The sky has been grey for months and if it’s not drizzling rain, it’s 100% humidity!  So every smooth surface is wet. The floors look like they have just been hosed, but it’s all condensation. You really have to be careful not to slip and it’s impossible to keep the floor clean, especially with bringing the bikes inside. I realised that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to have the air-conditioner on. By morning my room was dry. The glass in my door was dry on the inside, but still dripping on the outside in the hall!

You can see how wet the floor inside is... at 8am!

I had a gentle start to the day, then mid morning Tony and I caught a taxi to Big C and I spent an hour stocking up on household necessities and food. When we got home we had hot barbq chicken and mayo on hot bread rolls for lunch... my traditional Big C treat.

Xuân came over in the afternoon and patiently spent a couple of hours going over and over the Vietnamese words and phrases for my lesson one. This is going to be a long haul! Khánh joined us after he finished uni and since it was bleak and rainy outside, we finished off the chicken and hot bread rolls for dinner, with fruit for dessert. It wasn’t a late night because Ann phoned in the afternoon to give me a 9:30 class tomorrow morning, so I’ll have to go in early to prepare for it.

SUNDAY, 18th March
How lovely... both classes of littlies I had today included kiddies I taught last year!  It is good to see how they are progressing, and they were very responsive.

After the last class we headed off to Seamen for their fabulous seafood buffet for a staff Welcome Dinner for Ian, Emma and me.  Once again, the food was delicious and the presentation was stunning...

Ian, Gene and Lotus
Will and Tony

Linh and Ian

Emma at the dessert table

I missed taking pics of Ann, Lina and Becki, but they made up our party and we had a very enjoyable evening together. Great night.

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