This morning Helle picked me up and we went to the Harbour View Hotel for lunch with Ann and Ushi, whose husband is the General Manager at the hotel. It is written up in the Lonely Planet as "Haiphong's best hotel ... designed to look like a colonial palace". It is certainly an impressive place with an elegant, gracious atmosphere. We had lunch in a grand restaurant, with gorgeous paintings on the walls.
Helle, Ushi (from Switzerland) and Ann
I had a set menu lunch
char-grilled prawn entree and delicious lamb rack for mains.
After lunch we took a stroll around the manicured grounds. Every nook and cranny is carefully tended.
The pool looked very inviting, and there is even a tiny temple tucked away out of sight for employees and locals to use:
Ann and Helle wore the beautiful embroidered blouses they bought from the silk village (near Hanoi) last week. I am looking forward to going there one day.
Ann is leaving this week to go back to Belgium for a holiday, then she and her partner Peter will go to Oman for a couple of years. The ex-pat community is very transient, with most people leaving after their contracts finish. They have a regular Cocktail Party at Harbour View as a opportunity for social networking for ex-pats in Hai Phong. Of course, I am always working at night, so it's unlikely I will ever get to join them, but certainly all the westerners I've met since I've been here have been delightful people who have led fascinating lives. And the best thing is that English is their common language. I feel such an ignoramous that I can only speak one language. Most of these people speak at least three!