This morning I spent a couple of hours wading through a heap of worksheets and lesson plans sorting out what I want to hang on to, what to pass on to Tony and what to throw away. Doesn't seem like much, but at least it's a start. I'm not sure if it's feasable to even try to pare down my stuff so it fits into only one suitcase, even though I haven't accumulated much. Gene and Becki tell me it's cheaper to pay for an extra suitcase than to cough up for several kilos of excess baggage, so that might be the way to go... I'll see how much I come back with after tripping around with Katie...
All up it was a pretty gentle day washing, reading, relaxing and skyping. Katie and I checked out the Hotels on our itinerary and booked a cooking class at a school in Hanoi called Hidden Hanoi that looks great (fingers crossed!).
Late in the afternoon Tinh came over so I could check his CV. Xuan came too. After sorting that out we talked to Katie on skype for a while. It had been raining on and off all day, but the rain eased off to a light sprinkle, so we walked down Van Cao to the Bun Cha restaurant on the corner.
Cheery restranteur, Tinh and Xuan.
The weather has cooled off so everyone is rugged up - except me! I love not feeling hot after all these months! We had a delicious meal...
Fresh and oh so tasty Bun Cha
To think I would have missed out on enjoying this street food but for the friendship of my church class boys. I always walked past because I was unfamiliar with how to order and what to order... and the sad reality of sitting by myself to eat. Now it's all good!
No more 'Nigel No Friends' for me!
After dinner we walked home and played darts for a while. This time Xuan reigned supreme and was undefeated. Mind you, Tinh had never played before... as for me, I have no excuse... just not accurate enough!
WEDNESDAY 5th October
Today was my last regular church class. So I took some photos. The numbers were down by the end of the lesson because we went way overtime, but here they are (after I gave them an Aussie flag sticker each).
This lovely girl gave me this vase of flowers which she made - with the request that I come back soon
Helle was waiting for me when I got home, (later than I planned...). We picked up Maritha, Dorothee and Caroline and headed off to Harbour View Hotel for lunch. Everything was decorated for a huge wedding between a Danish man and a Vietnamese girl later in the afternoon, so we got to look around and ooh and aah at the gorgeous decorations
The foyer at Harbour View
The main banquet room
There were dozens of fresh roses on every table
and several personalised tables decorated the hall.
This is Dorothee with Sathia and Ushi Narayanan. Sathia is the General Manager of Harbour View.
This is the colourful little gift shop in the Hotel foyer...
When we went into the Dining Room we were joined by Birthe, Becki and Gene. There was a tour group booked in for lunch, so we enjoyed the benefit of the buffet lunch prepared for them
Becki and a waitress
Becki and Caroline
The dessert selection
We had a lovely lunch with plenty of lively conversation... I will miss these girls. Maritha, Dorothee, Helle, Birthe, Ushi and Caroline
(Becki and Gene had already left to go to work).
After a very leisurely lunch I went with Helle and Birthe to Parkson, where they bought some warmer clothes for the change in the weather. We had a fresh orange juice, bought some hot bread from Helle's favourite bread lady outside Big C and I got home at about 5pm!
Bánh cuốn (literally "rolled cake"). It is a roll made from a thin, wide sheet of steamed rice pancake filled with seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and minced shallots. Fried onion is sprinkled on top. It was served with the dipping sauce called nước chấm with a pork sausage floater and a minced pork meatball, and of course the wonderful fresh green salad. YUM.
We tried to watch a movie from Khanh's laptop, but couldn't get the connection to the TV happening, so we ended up talking to a German lady friend of his on skype. I was pleasantly surprised how much German I remembered from 45 years ago in high school! Shame they don't speak German in Vietnam... I'd be speaking 'Vietnamese' by now... ah well, maybe next time I come I will learn it... maybe. Everyone that's not Vietnamese reckons it's impossible to learn because it has 6 tones.. more than Chinese, even! But I know lots of 3 year olds that have no trouble speaking Vietnamese......
THURSDAY 6th October
This morning Khanh picked me up and took me to the Post Office to pick up a parcel of CD's from LifeHouse that P. John Hardy had sent me... 6 months worth of key messages - but I only have a few days before I'm off travelling with Katie, so I will bequeath them to Lynh - I'm sure she will put then to good use.
Next we went to the Hang Kenh Communal House. It was built in 1717 and is really beautiful. I pulled out my camera only to find I'd left my memory card in my lap top so I couldn't take any pictures! This one I down-loaded off the net
but it doesn't come close to doing it justice. As we walked around I stopped beating myself up, because I will definitely bring Katie here to see this. Then I will take many photos for my blog... it's a place Hai Phong must cherish.
We had a fairly brief look around, since I didn't have my camera. The three storey buiding was marred by huge modern banners that completely obscured the top two floors. I hope they are removed when we return, for it looks very tacky today.
It was drizzling lightly and quite cool when Khanh dropped me home at noon. It's amazing how cool it is today when you consider it was really hot just last week. I spent the afternoon skyping Katie, blogging and having a snooze. Khanh came back at 5 with some Bánh Bèo...
A neat little package wrapped in banana leaf... steamed rice flour cake and minced pork, dipping sauce... and yup, it was delicious!
It occurred to me when I was typing up these last few days just how very tame life in Coffs Harbour will seem! If it wasn't for my precious family and my gorgeous grandchildren I think I'd find it very mundane after this lot!