On Saturday morning, Giang picked me up at 7:10am and we rode to a senior high school near Kien An. I taught 4 classes - one Year 10, and three Year 11s. The students, of course were delightful - typical teenagers - not particularly interested, easily distracted, treating it all as a bit of a joke...
(these kids are 16 years old)
But what I found most interesting was the vast discrepancy between the level of English in the text book and their level of understanding. One would assume that the textbook reflected the material they knew, but that was far from the case. I had to modify my lesson right back to basics. When they did speak, it was very difficult to decipher what they were trying to say. I am told that they would be taught reading and grammar, but not listening or speaking. To pass their exams, they learn everything by rote. Western teachers in the government schools certainly have their work cut out for them!
Shortly after lunch, Hannah and Sam arrived from Hà Nội. Hannah has recently started an excellent job there, teaching in an International Pre-school, full time. Sam attends the school, so he is learning Vietnamese. They checked into a room here on the second floor, then came up to my room where we hung out for the afternoon. I really don't have much to interest a 2 year old, so my melamine plates and bowls came out... he was fascinated by the steel spring from my shaker. But most of Sam's attention focused on what food was available! Over the next 4 hours he ate and ate... 2 bananas, a cucumber, 2 hard-boiled duck eggs, half a frozen bread stick, numerous snack packs of biscuits and nearly a whole moon-cake!
Tuấn Anh came over with Tarzan (Hiệp) and it was lovely to see that Sam remembered him... after 9 months away...
Then Aunty Jutta arrived and he enjoyed some rough-and-tumble with her (in between snacks!...)
Check out his gorgeous curls! I can understand why Hannah doesn't want to cut them off, but she has to put up with people constantly asking if he's a girl...
We went to Texas BarBQ for dinner and caused an uproar. As soon as we walked up towards the front door, the security guards recognised Sam and jumped up calling his name, one of them bolted inside and several waitresses came running out. Hannah couldn't even get the stroller through the door for all the people gathered around wanting to touch and talk to Sam. I'm sure the diners inside were wondering what all the fuss was about.... but Sam had been a regular at Texas BarBQ since he was only a few weeks old, so they had watched him grow. Last year when the Wednesday ladies were regulars here, Hannah would arrive, and immediately the waiters and waitresses would take Sam to play with him. He was quite calm about all the attention - remarkable, considering it's been so long since he was last here.
Hannah. Sam and Ngọc
Ngọc is an absolute sweetie. Not only did Sam recognise her and give her cuddles, she remembered our names and even knew what I was going to order! By now, Hannah was very glad she had decided to return for a visit... after all, Hải Phòng was her home for over two years, so she is no stranger here.
Jutta joined us as we were finishing and then Tuấn Anh arrived with a couple of his mates on bikes to take us to Bia Hoi with a bunch of the Nam Phap students. (Hannah taught there for a while after I left last year, and Jutta also has a class every Friday)
As you can see, Sam loves riding motorbikes, and knows how to hold on tight!
Jutta, Tuấn Anh, Công, Trung, Mười, me, Hải, Hiếu, Nguyên, Tuấn Anh, Manh, Thắng and Tran Anh. And that's the top of Xuân's head in the foreground...
Even though it was getting late and he hadn't had a nap all day, Sam was still going strong, still drawing a crowd... and still eating!!!
The party broke up around 9pm and Tuấn Anh and Công took Hannah and Sam back to the hotel. His friend had to carry the stroller under one arm on his bike... and it's a very heavy awkward load! But a few of us went on to Karaoke and Tuấn Anh and Công joined us there.
New friends... Hải, Hiếu, and the other Tuấn Anh
I totally enjoy karaoke... and of course we had a great time. What a special evening!!
After such a huge Saturday, Hannah and Sam didn't wake up till around 8 so it was a leisurely start to the day. She had H-Tower on her list of places to go, so we walked there for breakfast. It was a gorgeous day - not too hot - and the terrace on the top floor was just beautiful.
Hannah ordered ham and eggs for Sam, but he preferred to noodles out of our phở ... he is growing up bi-ligual and prefers Vietnamese food, too.
This terrace wraps around three sides of the building, so you can get panoramic views of the city in every direction - quite spectacular. It gives you such a different perspective when you see familiar territory from a birds eye view. My hotel is to the right of that very tall building on the left, down by the river...
And this tree lined street is Văn Cao - I used to walk this street every day. I lived down a side lane at the far end.
Once again the waitresses recognised Sam and wanted to take photos with him
With nowhere special to go, Hannah and I stayed up there long after the breakfast crowd left. Sam kept himself occupied pottering around and we just enjoyed relaxing in such peaceful surroundings. Jutta joined us eventually and we walked down to the Bún Chả corner fo our favourite lunch... more photos of people with Sam...
Walking back, I couldn't resist taking a photo of these power lines...
Originally, the plan was for Hannah to catch a bus back to Hà Nội in the early afternoon, but they opted for a nap instead and then stayed for as long as possible... in no hurry to leave after all. Here's Hannah enjoying the sunset on my balcony, looking very refreshed and relaxed
Tuyền came over to take me to dinner, so Hannah and Sam joined us for one last meal...cháo ngan... very delicious.
And finally they said farewell and caught the bus home... but I'm sure they will be back soon. I expect weekend visits back to Hải Phòng will be a regular occurrence now.