Friday, August 31, 2012

Just had to post it...

Payday!  And an early class, so I met with Will and Backi and Toni for dinner at Airyang.... Delicious, of course

Becki kindly posed for this photo, so I just had to blog it!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Nights Out

I've been out every night lately and the last three nights were no different! On Saturday night, Xuân picked me up after I finished teaching and took me to Texas BarBQ where I met Toni for dinner, then we rocked up to a beaut little cafe/nightclub just down the end of our lane called Rainbow. They have live music there and it was packed. A group of Xuân s English Club friends were already there, settled in a back room, playing Jenga.  Everyone was sitting on the floor, but they had to find a stool for me because my knee is still a bit dodgy. They are such a happy bunch there was much laughter... especially when they started to play 'Truth or Dare'...

They went on from there to Karaoke, but I had taught 4x2-hour classes, starting at 7.30am, so I headed for home and bed!  Must have been tired to knock back karaoke!
Then on Sunday night we were out again. This time it was the farewell/welcome dinner for VAIE teachers... Farewell to Ian and Will, who finish up this week... (NOOOOOOOO! ), and welcome to John and Melissa, Toni, and Graham (another Aussie who arrived a couple of days ago).  We went to a fabulous restaurant called Quàn Ngon.

Will, Graham, Lotus, Toni, Melissa and John

The food here is fabulous, the set-up is unique, and we had a really enjoyable meal.

I am going to miss Will so much. He's an absolute darling and has a heart of gold. It is no surprise that he has so many friends here... all hoping he will return. Next weekend is his birthday and then he will be gone. But nothing in this life is coincidence and I pray we will cross paths again in the years to come - maybe here, maybe in Ireland, maybe in South America... only God knows.

And my third night out, tonight, was actually only a stop off for dinner on the way home from work. I met Becki at Texas BarBQ. I haven't seen her for weeks because Gene went back to the US for a few weeks, so we had a catch-up. At the table next to us was the cutest little girl imaginable. Her very proud Dad encouraged her to talk to us and before long she was posing for photos...

Children are treasured in this culture and are so used to being loved and cuddled they are not frightened of strangers, but curious. Everywhere I go I see babies, toddlers and little kids surrounded by family and friends who hold them and watch over them, and the little ones are content and secure in the knowledge that they are safe and cherished.  No wonder they are so happy.  This little darling was blowing us kisses as we left.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Better than Bún Chả?

After I finished work tonight Sáng had arranged to pick me up, but it was pouring, so we cancelled and I just got a ride home with Son, the security guard from VAIE. I wasn't home long when the rain stopped, so Sáng and his mate, Tú, came and picked me up and took me into the city to this tiny little restaurant where we had the most delicious Nem Cua Bể - crab spring rolls! It's pretty much a variation on Bún Chả and I may well have a new favourite Vietnamese dish...
Fresh, scrumptious food and delightful company... what a great way to spend a Friday night.

After our meal, we headed back to the Paragon Cafe for coffee. It was raining on and off all night, so raincapes were the order of the day. It's amazing to me how we take heavy rain, raincapes, motorbikes and wet feet in our stride over here... "It's normal!"  Back home we'd balk at driving in such weather, but here if you have to go somewhere you either wait till the rain eases or ride on through it (without the protection of a car).

We walked in the door at Paragon and there at the first table were all these Western men...
Tom (US), Tony, Ian, Graham (who only arrived today) and John - all but Tom are from VAIE.
Apparently they were discussing my disastrous attempt at riding a motorbike when I walked in with Sáng and Tu. It was pretty funny.... a bit like stumbling across The Old Codgers' Club...

Sáng and 

The time passed very quickly chatting with my new friends. There's always plenty to talk about. Their English is good, but every so often they stop and compare notes in Vietnamese to clarify what I just said...
Another lovely evening with new experiences and great company... how blessed am I!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Even though I didn't finish work till 9.30pm, Kien arranged for Rose to pick me and Toni up and take us to a Karaoke bar where a bunch from one of the English clubs were in full swing. Will came along and it was lovely to be greeted with such enthusiasm and affection when we walked in the door.

Will picked a couple of old tear-gerkers, including 'The Green Green Grass of Home' ... yep, I think he's ready to go home.....  It was an eye-opener for Toni (her first VN karaoke) and we had fun - of course!!

Greg and Caelyn on skype

Yea! I just got to talk to Greg (and Caelyn) on skype... about Greg's job, my job, and baby-sitting when I come home. That will be so good. It's Caelyn's first birthday on Saturday... but I won't be there. Poor me.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will's 1E class

With less than two weeks to go, Will has begun his rounds of farewell parties. Tonight he went out for a drink with his 1E class when they finished at 7.30. They polished off a keg and some vodka over dinner then the girls left and Will dropped by the school at 9.30 to invite Toni, Sun and I to join them. We sat down for a beer and then they went on into town to party on...

I expect William will be doing this many times over the next couple of weeks!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bee Star After-party

Tonight Xuân invited me to join in the Bee Star After Party. I swapped tonight's class with Will, so I was free to go... and what a great night we had. By the time Đạt picked me up they were already well into it. We started out at a large chicken restaurant - Minh Hoạch - for dinner. All of the fabulous volunteers of the Bee Star crew were there...

Lots of great food...

and lots of toasts...

and lots and lots of photos...
    Thảo and Nga  

     Thái and      

 and this is Sòn, who was MC with Rose.

Thoa, Hà and Thái

After dinner, we went to Karaoke - which is always a lot of fun! When we got there, the shenanigans continued in the carpark with English Club President Hiệp acting the drunken fool.

It was a nice place, well set up with the comfy couches and big screen TV etc... and it was loud, but not ear-piercingly so like some are.

It was also this Thái's birthday, so they presented him with a cake...

The plan was to shove the small cake into his face, then bring out a big glamorous cake for singing, eating etc... but the big cake ended up as ammunition for a cake fight and cake went everywhere...

It was all over everyone, the lounges, the floor ... walking was hazardous it was so slippery!


That pretty much put an end to the night... a few hardy souls danced and sang till our time ran out though ... that wasn't easy for me, because I had to dance on one leg, pretty much. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I dropped Khánh's motorbike on my leg this morning trying to learn how to ride it... nothing broken but I surely have some scratches and bruises!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pub Quiz at Phono Box

Khánh came home from Quảng Ninh for the weekend, and I had the morning off work (!) so he came over and we went out for Bún Chả for lunch... always delicious... and caught up on all his news. He has a contract to work there as an intern for two months, so he will not finish till mid October. But in the meantime he'll come home for the occasional weekend, so that will be good. He is working for a Korean construction company on the new Power Station being built...2,000 workers on the project, so it's huge - a steep learning curve, but great experience.

There is a very beautiful beach near there, so I plan to catch a bus and go to visit him when he finishes up so he can show me the sights... something to look forward to.

I had a class in the afternoon, then after I came home at 5pm, Ba dropped by so we could go over the topic he has to do a presentation on tomorrow in class... about whether living together before marriage is good or bad. We had plenty to discuss and Katie joined us via skype, so by the time he went home he had plenty of material to use for preparing his presentation!

Khánh's Mum cooked Bún Chả so he brought some over for our dinner. Toni joined us and of course, it was delicious. Then we called Mr Cường so we could go to the city centre for tonight's pub quiz. Toni jumped on behind him and we expected him to follow us since he didn't know where we were going. But he pulled ahead, and didn't stop when Khánh pulled over for some photocopies and we lost them. I reached for my phone only to find it was not in my bag because Khánh had put it on the table after talking to Mr Cường and I didn't grab it! So we had to ring Will and see if he could phone Toni, but she wasn't answering her phone, so he sent her a text with the address. I was quite relieved to see her there when we arrived at the Phono Box.  Mr Cường had tried phoning me, but of course my phone was at home, and it wasn't till Toni reached for her phone to try that she got Will's message.  Just a little excitement on the way... Toni has only been here 6 days and Mr Cường doesn't speak English...  but all's well that ends well! She reckons he was in a big rush to get home to watch the football coz he rushed her to Julie's Bar, assuming that was our destination and was frustrated when he couldn't get me on the phone and she didnt' know where to go... just as well Will was on the case and he texted her the address!

Because Khánh and I were on the winning team (with Irene and Phil) we had prepared questions for the quiz. It was a boozy, smoky, loud crowd and a great night.
Irene and Phil

Emily, Rie, Mario and James with Toni, Will and Ingrid in the background.

Not quite what I expected when I said "Smile!"  ...
The surprise of the night was to discover an extensive record collection, so we enjoyed music from the past... Beatles, The Mummas and the Pappas... so many songs from my day!  They closed the bar at 12.30 so we headed for duck noodle. Katie came here last year for the late night feast, but I hadn't been so it was a first for me. This is Harry's Cafe de Wheels Hải Phòng style... the perfect place for late night revellers to get great food....

And this is it! Duck noodle.

A very late night for Grammy, but very enjoyable.  So good that I have the day off tomorrow!