Thursday, August 18, 2011

A fabulous day gallivanting....

WEDNESDAY 17th August

Today was going to be a day off, so I planned to spend it with some of the church class students... turned out Gene had to go to Hanoi, so I ended up teaching her classes anyway, but I had the best day...

I woke to a thunder storm at about 5ish. There was a lot of lightning, and we had a blackout. Nevertheless, it stopped raining and Xuan picked me up at 8:15am and we went to 'Miss Lesley's' church class

They are meeting back at the Big Catholic church again. These students are very keen and teaching them is a lot of fun

The discussions are always lively. The young man in the white and blue shirt in the front row (Tinh) is particularly vocal, and loves to take a contraversial stance... especially when it comes to the role of the submissive, faithful wife and the inevitability of philandering behaviour in men... yep, he always gets a bite!

After the class, Xuan had to go on to university so his brother, Dat, was my escort for the day. A convoy of 4 bikes headed off to Kien An district... we travelled slowly at about 20kph so we could still chat, riding side by side. After about half an hour we came to their house, where his sister, Lan had ridden on ahead to begin preparing lunch for us. What an awesome privilege, to be invited home! It is a traditional Vietnamese house... very simple, but entirely functional.

You enter off the street into a utility area where bikes and bulky stuff is stored:

Then you come straight into the main room. There's an altar to the ancestors, a fridge and a table and chairs
that's Tung and Tang

Thien, The and Dat. 

Behind the divider is the bedroom area.
As you can see, the armoire is beautiful with intricate inlay decoration..
Trung and Tung.

Then outside is a little courtyard with the kitchen and laundry.  That's Tung sitting outside the kitchen...

and this is the kitchen.
Though Lan did all the food preparation for lunch out in the sun in the courtyard, with several large bowls of water for washing the vegetables etc.

The loo is down this little side path  (that's the laundry on the left)

This kitten was in the laundry in the shade.

Lan prepared a tasty lunch for us and we sat on the floor and enjoyed it... rice, pork, tofu, greens and melon soup

The, Dat, Lan and Tung.  
Lan's husband is a sailor who is away for a year

After our meal, Thien and Tung got a couple of fresh coconuts and prepared delicious drinks for us to complete our little feast. 
It was 1 o'clock when we headed off for the lookout. The day was hot and sunny with no sign of the storms early in the morning. There are only a few hills in Hai Phong, and they rise out of the plain like big dollops. The view from up next to the observatory is uninterrupted...
The steep sides of the hill are all forest, and down below you can see rice paddies in amongst the urban sprawl. We could hear horns blasting from the traffic in the distance, but they were surprisingly loud. Apparently this lookout is very romantic at night with all the city lights.

Lan, Dat, Tung, Thien, Trung and The. 
There is an observatory but it was closed to the public so I took a couple of photos and we headed back down the hill

On the way down the hill we saw a small herd of about 20 wild goats! They were very fat and healthy looking. Funny that they eat dog meat here in Hai Phong, but not goat!

Our last stop was in the shade of the trees around Happy Lake, which (as Dat pointed out) is really more of a pond than a lake...
Thien, Trung, Thien, Tung, Lam and Dat
Lan, Xuan and Dat's aunt and uncle run this street cafe. Their aunty was stripping sugar cane ready for the evening's trade

So Trung and Nan made us some fresh sugar cane juice

By the time we headed for home it was getting close to 3pm, which is when Mr Cuong picks me up for work, so I passed my phone to Trung so he could phone Mr Cuong and ask him to pick me up at 4 instead
but he wasn't answering his phone, so I ended up texting "4pm" to him instead and when he phoned me at 3 to check, we changed our arrangement. The boys were fascinated how Mr Cuong and I manage to communicate when we have no common language, so when we got home at 3.30 they decided to hang about and meet my amazing Xe-om driver.  They got to say hello to Katie on skype, then  I got ready for work and when Mr Cuong arrived at 4 they got to meet him too.
Add a couple of great classes to top off the day (5:30 to 9:30pm) and there you have it!

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