Thursday, October 31, 2013

Karaoke revisited

Of course, Katie was keen to catch up with old friends from last year, so when I went to teach classes the night we got back to HP, Hà, Thảo, Tiên and Tuyền came over to visit her and take her out for dinner. 

Then on Thursday morning, while I went off teaching kindies and then year 10's for Giang, Katie caught up on some sleep, skyped the family, and tackled some of her uni work. She has decided to do one Unit of study during the Summer holidays to lighten the load next semester...and that means keeping on top of the work while she's here.

I had two classes at VAIE tonight as well, but as soon as I finished, I joined Katie with Tuyền, Hà, Nhung, Thảo, and Tiên for Karaoke! Just a few of us, but a lovely evening singing together...  

Although I've see Tuyền and Tiên quite often, I've only caught up with Hà, Nhung and Thảo a couple of times for they are working and keep very busy. So it was really lovely to spend time with them again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Katie's in Hà Nội !

Katie arrived in Hà Nội today!!  I came here last night and had my first run in with a dodgy taxi driver. He quoted 50,000 dong for the ride from the bus station to the hotel, then when we arrived demanded 150,000 dong !! Needless to say, I stood my ground, even when he began abusing me (Hmmm - who taught him that language, I want to know!!) and I refused to pay the extra. Unfortunately I didn't have the right change to pay what showed on the meter before he switched it off, so eventually I handed him the nearest amount I could and left him to it. How dare he!!!   LOL

Anyway, my mate Dũng at Little Hanoi Diamond Hotel organised a car to the airport for me this morning to go and meet Katie and it was just lovely to welcome her back again. Like me, she now switches into Việt Nam mode the minute she steps off the plane and soaks in all the sights and sounds of the journey back into the city. 

She had been up and travelling for 32 hours, so first up she had a snooze, while I went for a walk. A short time later we went to our favourite bánh khúc lady in Câu Gố street... 

...then a stroll that included a drink in the bar at the top of that iconic building that overlooks the round-about at the top end of Hồ Hoàn Kiếm.

...a bit of shopping, and a fresh fruit juice watching the passing parade in front of our hotel for while and then we retreated to the cool of our room so Katie could skype the family, and grab another quick nap.

This was the view from our balcony.


For her first night back in Việt Nam, Katie opted for a night out with dear Will. He wasn't here when she came last year, and he now lives in Hà Nội so it was a wonderful excuse to catch up. He took us to dinner on Chicken Street - to his favourite street food...and it was sooo delicious! (Even late at night the electricians were hard at work on the lines across the road...)

 Honey glazed chicken...

Will has eaten here so often, he is great friends with 'the chicken lady' and he knows all the local characters. He told us this little old lady would come across to say hello and tell us about her husband, the war hero... and sure enough, over she toddled, just like he said.

Will's mate, Đức, joined us and the trio of drinkers soon had the table covered with empties....


Then we had chicken's feet and this amazing bread - rolled flat, then dipped in the honey mixture and BarBQ'd ... better than finger lickin' good!!

From there, we went to a bar for a drink and soon had everyone in the place dancing. It was such a fun night...

Just love Will and Đức ... two of our favourite people, and a fitting welcome for Katie.  Needless to say, we didn't get away as early as originally planned the next morning to return to Hải Phòng. Katie needed plenty of t.l.c. ... 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another wedding!

This morning the teachers from VAIE were all invited to Bich (the canteen lady)'s son's wedding. Twelve of us left the school as soon as the last morning class finished and caught taxis to the city centre, to the Hữu Nghị Hotel in Điện Biên Phư street. 

The wedding reception had begun 45 minutes before we arrived, so we missed all the formalities, but arrived in time for the singing and feasting. The huge room featured a large swimming pool, and our table was next to the pool - gorgeous!

Lee, me, Claudine and Josie

Darren, Linh, Melissa and John

One of the fathers sang a love song, and half way through the other father decided to help...and he'd obviously been celebrating pretty heavily and he was very funny. We were all waiting for him to fall into the pool...

Then the bride also sang a song with a friend (or maybe her sister?) and did a great job.

The rowdy mob sitting at this table behind ours were from the groom's soccer team. They enjoyed plenty of toasts and were keen to say hello before we left.

On the way out, we all posed for photos...

Sun, Linh and Melissa in the back row, with Bich (the groom's mother - looking very glamorous), Ann, Lee, Angelia, Josie, Claudine and me

All the girls plus Graham and Darren

The groom's sister monitoring the gift boxes. Guests give money, rather than presents, and the money is put in an envelope and then into either the groom's or the bride's box. There is no obligation for the money to be pooled together - the bride has control of her money! And from my experience, there is no acknowledgement of the gifts... no thank you letters. 

  Beautiful Lee and her children.

Lee, me, Josie, Angelia, Kate, one of the receptionists, and Nicholas

We all had a thoroughly enjoyable time... feeling very well looked after!