Medicals, Meetings, Articles and Animes.

Despite the fact I wanted to stay in bed until the F1 replay at 1:45pm after being blindsided by the heftiness of a weekend at work I knew I had to get up and sort a few things out on Monday. Chief among these was finding SIX (yes, six) passport photos for my medical the next day. This seemed to be a relatively simple idea, however I somehow missed the photo shop I’d been pointed towards and end up being sent everywhere but a photo shop.

With my patience wearing thin I finally stumbled into a shop where a woman walked me round the corner, into an alley, in someones front door and called for them to come out. I did wonder what the hell was going on but it turned out they ran their own family photography studio on a small scale right out of their front room.

I was just relieved to have found somewhere to sort it out, I readily agreed to taking eight passport sized photos for 60,000d, I figured there would be need for them later anyway. I was to come back for them later that afternoon. You may be wondering why I might require six passport photos and that would be because you have never faced Vietnamese bureaucracy, I have never been required to sign something once yet.

I have been here for three weeks, I signed up for my bank account three days after I got here, it still isn’t open, I am told it should come along soon. I have signed at least two copies of absolutely everything I’ve had to sign. It is madness.

Mini-rant over I was happy with myself for finally sorting out the photos and decided to treat myself to an Indian, while eating I cocked up the times on when the F1 would start and got back to the flat for the start of lap six. With it being dry I thought the race might be a touch boring but it was actually a second week in a row of action and craziness which was thoroughly enjoyable.

From there I had to drag myself into work for the second of my two cover lessons which went smoothly enough. I was considering street noodles and home as most people had another lesson to teach and I was a free man. Thankfully Seo (pronounced Show) was also done and asked if I fancied Coriander, there she introduced me to the delightful taste of “lab moo” which for extra bonus points is actually made with beef and is rather delicious.

It’s hard to explain but its a mincey-herby-spicy dish that tastes wonderful. You may be better served searching online for a picture rather using my admittedly crap description.

Tuesday began, for my consciousness at least, with the medical. Myself and three others were taken to the hospital by taxi and it was absolutely an experience. I will never complain about a hospital in England again, not because it was unclean but just because of the sheer amount of patients, they were everywhere, sat on chairs, in corridors, outside sat by the flowerbeds, sat in groups of family, laid on a bed in the hall.

Our Vietnamese helper from ILA who was helping get through it all explained that there are no hospitals in the sticks so the whole family will come into the city with them. They will often stay for periods lasting more like days than hours in the corridors waiting for their loved ones to be seen.

I felt absolutely awful as we were given the express service and skipped in at the first possible juncture at every possibility on our tour. We started with our height and weight (176cm, 93kg of mostly wobbly tissue), had a check of our heart and blood pressure and then headed to the scene of plenty of my nightmares.

They had to take blood as part of the medical. I detest needless. Detest. My stomach rolled and I became nervous as it came closer to my time, once the needle was in it was okay and I could look at it. Until the nurse took forever to get the blood out and I thought I was going to throw up all over the vicinity. Thankfully I kept breakfast down and she added insult to injury by slapping a plaster on my notoriously hairy arms (which would of course cause me much pain a couple of hours later when I ripped it off).

Next stop was for an X-ray, which everyone had to take their shirts off for, including the girl in our group. We couldn’t work out why at first but we came down to the idea that it might be the buttons on our shirts – any medical experts care to provide a reason?

From there we had our teeth, nose and ears checked before heading to the optician. She asked me to read the chart with my glasses on, I was absolutely perfect. She asked me to read it without and seemed perturbed that I couldn’t tell her the first line. She quickly understood when she used some kind of lens strength testing thing on my glasses and concluded, as I could have told her for free, that I’m half blind.

That over and it was thankfully time to leave and hopefully never see another needle for a very long time. It was more time past the overcrowded corridors and pleading eyes that seemed to look into my soul. I didn’t know what to think to myself of it all. If anyone is thinking of complaining about the NHS anytime soon I suggest you come and check this out first and thank your lucky stars.

I didn’t have time to dwell on that however, it was straight to work, finish off my lesson plan and into my seniors class that runs Tuesday/Thursday. This was a fresh class, at the start of the textbook and I thought it went well, a couple of chatty kids but nothing unreasonable and the TA was one of the guys I had played basketball with earlier in the day. They didn’t even ask me if I was fat or gay. Bonus. They did want to know if I had a wife. Me? They are clearly mental.

From there I headed home and got stuck into finishing the Wilbur Smith book I’d started a couple of days earlier; “When the Lion Feeds”, which I tore through in three days. An absolutely thrilling read, which you can tell has had a tonne of research and care poured into it, I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

Wednesday was my first proper day off in quite some time. No cover. No planning. No medicals. I got up at 11am for two reasons, one to slot in breakfast before it finished and the second (and more important) that I didn’t want to get up too late as if I got used to waking up past noon then getting up at six on Saturday and Sunday would be a painful experience.

The only thing I had on was a meeting with the editor a local magazine, Asia Life HCMC. ( if you would like to take a gander at the latest issue). I had arranged to meet him at a place called Bread and Butter, I knew where it was roughly but asked Zara to check, she laughed at me like I was an idiot and pointed out that was where I’d met her on my second night in the country. Somewhere in the haze of my jet lag the place had left my consciousness completely.

I met up with Tom, a 28 year old Buffalo Bills fan from the New York area to discuss the magazine and potential freelance writing. I thought it went really well and I’ve come away from it with a couple of pieces I’m working on now. The first is a travel piece on Alice Springs and Uluru that is taking plenty of research and e-mailing but is coming together nicely. The best news is however that its paid work, admittedly not well paid but its extra beer tokens and great stuff for the portfolio and you certainly can’t sniff at that.

On my way home I stopped off in the DVD store across the street and had a look at the series boxsets. I found one that piqued my curiosity and my inner geek, the 4 series boxset of an anime I love called Initial D. I thought it might set me back 200,000d (£8) or so for all four series, so I was pleasantly surprised when the lady started at 90,000d (£3.50) and promptly bargained that down to 75,000d (£3) for all four series. My sister is going to leave a jealous comment after reading this paragraph.

Purchase in backpack I went home and immediately started firing off e-mails and considering areas I might cover in the article.

Later that night I continued on with Studio 60 series one which I am quickly falling in love with, its fast paced and has excellent banter. Great TV.

Thursday is my planning day at work, I head in early for that nights lesson and get Saturdays lessons all planned out as well, to avoid having to go in on Fridays so I can keep them free to myself. I got everything sorted and headed into my class to teach them about the past simple. They seemed to get it really well which I was rather pleased about.

From there I headed home, via an indian, to do article research, fire off more emails and get through some more episodes of Studio 60.

I was woken up this morning by the clanging of the work which is being done at my guesthouse, somehow it hasn’t woke me up early yet but the clanging of hammers, screeching of chainsaws and the sounds of things being destroyed in general got through to me this morning. I was mildly perturbed for awhile until I realised it will probably make me feel less like crap tomorrow morning. Although in case I do I’ve bought two cans of Red Bull for Saturday and Sunday.

The main thing I’ve done with my day is head in to Bobby Brewers to watch “Crazy Heart” which is an utterly fantastic movie that I reccommend anyone should go and see, well worth seeing. Oh and I found some awesome looking fake wood Tin Tin front cover art pieces that will look epic on a wall in my future house. Think they might be a purchase at some point in the future!

Love and Uluru

J. Xx


8 Responses to “Medicals, Meetings, Articles and Animes.”

  1. great read my old pal hope your well and enjoying yourself.

    • Cheers mate! Im doing pretty well yeah, starting to feel settled a little now lol! Hows things going at the Nat game then?

  2. You are so right about taking the NHS for granted we don’t always realise how lucky we are but I bet you are glad the needles are over!

    My copies of Studio 60 arrived today but I am caught up in new American series called The Good Wife which is proving really good and then I am on to Brothers & Sisters.

    Take care love Mam Xx

    • Lol I would happily never have another needle for as long as I live but I sadly know that’s terribly unlikely!!

      I’ve finished S60, moving onto Initial D now =)

  3. THREE. POUNDS. Damned right I’m jealous, you, you nine-sided whore! (points if you can remember where that comes from :P)

    Sara x

    • I figured it was Black Books but I had to check to make sure, it just sounds like it should be from B Books lol! Before I come home I might be able to pick you up a boxset or two, they are highly illegal yet awesome, they had one for that “Bleach” you like?

  4. Wilbur smith is one of my favorite travel books – apart from the fact that I manage to whip through them as fast as I’m sure you would. I recommend trying to read each series of books in order (you’ve started with the first one at least) and they are a great read.

    I would post some out to you but I’m fairly sure I’ve taken all mine cycle touring which generally means they’ve been cut up as I read them to save weight.

    Glad to hear you’re getting on well in the ‘nam. Quite jealous of the food (I’m eating mainly veg and random sausage to sae money.
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.


    • Yeah he’s top, I’ve since read one of his stand alone ones that isn’t in a series “Eye of the Tiger” and I’d highly reccommend that if you can find it, great read! I whipped through both in three days lol, just compulsive reading! I’ve got the second one of the Courtneys of Africa on the shelf and will be reading them in order, but seeing the third out here would be a miracle so will likely have to wait til im home or someone comes out to visit or suchlike! Do you have a particular favourite of his series?

      I’d love to go on a big cycling adventure someday when you next plan one? What are your next targets? Thats epic that you just lop off the chunk of book you have already read, makes a lot of sense though lol!

      The food is crazy, im starting to experiment a touch more now, tried dragonfruit today and a drink called nuc mia made from raw sugar canes and fresh lime! I’d give good money for a decent sausage tho, the bacon’s okay here but the sausage is plain wrong lol!

      Cheers, there’s one going up tonight once I write it!

      Congrats again on becoming an uncle as well =)


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