Bringing it Smack, Bang, Up to Date. BOOM!

Well, world, here comes that long awaited blog catch up that will bring my Vietnamese adventures back to the present, with the YL out of the way hopefully I can keep everything in time from now on but I’d wait and see if I were you before counting those proverbial chickens.

So we arrive to the Saturday, the post YL day, which came as a massive relief after two weeks of stress and nothing in the way of relaxation, this dawn of peace was shattered by the knowledge that I would be teaching 8 hours of classes the very next day which in turn meant I would be heading into work to get those classes planned. Buggar.

Before heading in however I got to have my latest jaunt around on Linda’s scooter and drive it around some of the busier streets in the vicinity of her place. It was much easier than the first day but a little more daunting with the seething mass of traffic surrounding me most of the time. I came through unscathed and began to get used to it though which was a great feeling.

I dutifully headed into work and spent a few hours getting my classes planned despite the fact I very much did not want to. That crap sorted I headed back to my place and began to get everything packed up for the move; the move? What move? You may ask. Well it would be me moving in with Linda, a rather quick happening given we’ve been together for two months I will grant you but I was rather excited.

If with a slight hint of trepidation; this would be the first time I had lived with a partner and the same for Linda, combine that with this mental city, and you have to worry just a touch. That was for the Wednesday however, first I would need to get through my Sunday classes, a day off on Monday and Tuesday night.

Saturday night I drove into the city with Linda on the back directing me and in all fairness it did provide a couple of mild heart in mouth moments but nothing that made Linda demand I pull over and get the fuck off immediately which has to be a positive. We headed to Sheridans Irish Pub for food and a pint. Which I needed after the drive in. I ordered the Chicken Kiev with Garlic Butter, Mash, Veggies and Gravy. It came and I was in no way disappointed, one of the top 3 meals I’ve had in HCMC so far, hands down, the gravy was Bisto and everything. Loved it. It was topped off with a dash of live music to finish, delightful.

The Sunday classes may not have been my finest hours of teaching, despite the course making me into a better teacher I was far too mentally jaded to be super-teacher and turned in what I remember as quite a flat day. I wanted Monday and a whole day off and I wanted it badly.

I scraped through the lessons and headed home to rest my weary head, if I achieved anything on that Monday it must have been little other than getting my bags mostly packed, Tuesday would be a long day and leave me little chance to get everything ready.

Tuesday dawned and I headed into work to get a headstart on planning both that day, Thursday and my summer school classes for Wednesday and Thursday. I wasn’t exactly enamoured with the prospect of teaching 8:30-11:30 two mornings a week but given I was massively down on my hours post YL course there wasn’t really a lot I could do about it in fairness. (Aside from have a bit of a grumble here, which always makes it slight better doesn’t it?).

Tuesday night I decided to head to my favourite Indian, Ali Akbar’s, I would be moving to the other side of the city the next day and would no longer be able to return with regularity to the place that had become my favourite place to eat in Saigon. Admittedly one of few negatives to moving out of district 1. I would very much not miss the hassle of the touristy/backpacker area – no I do not want to buy your ciggies, fans, chewing gum, sunglasses and other associated shit. Leave me alone.

To get back to the restaurant though, I went in, sat down, ordered my favourite dish, Chicken Dahi Wala, with Onion Bhajis and a garlic naan and sat back and relaxed. Only for panic to flash across my mind – there was the equivalent of 2 shekels and a button in my wallet. I let the waitress know I would be nipping to the cashpoint not to far away on the scooter and I’d be back in two minutes.

Of course I got there and the fucker was out of order, so I went back to the restaurant and explained my predicament and one of the benefits of being a regular was extended to me, the manager, a lovely chap by all accounts, said to not worry about it and pay next time I was in. That crises solved I sat back and ate a delicious meal while feeling a little silly.

So Wednesday came and the big moved dawned but first I had to get acquainted with my summer school class, S1P’s or not good enough to start S1 barely know the alphabet 11-15 year olds if you prefer. Eugh. They are in fairness a pretty nice class but it can be a frustrating slog at times, I did however get them all to take English names, so I have the pleasure of teaching the likes of Johanna, Tony, Thomas and my personal favourite; Walter.

I headed home via a quick stop off at my favourite Pho stand for a bite to eat and finished the last few bits of packing; the things I didn’t want to take out of the locker – passport, camera, Nintendo, iPod, etc. Linda arrived from her summer school class not long after and we bundled my stuff out of the place and into a taxi, she took the scooter as she knew the way from mine to Phu Nhuan and I was a little iffy on it.

We arrived and managed to get all my crap upstairs, which seemed like an awful lot but once you ignored the twenty books and ten copies of National Geographic I’d managed to accumulate I had pretty much the same amount of gear I’d arrived with. (DVD player that won’t be moving on with me notwithstanding!)

Within an hour I was fully unpacked, all my clothes in my smaller wardrobe, my stuff packed into drawers, my books in the cabinet and my DVDs assimilated into the collection. I even had my own nightstand and my posters on the wall. In the bedroom I even have a wall of funny stuff I’ve used in class that makes me smile =)

I was unpacked in time to watch the NBA Finals game and had the place to myself for the night as Linda was headed into work. I took the time to settle into the new place a little more and chill out, I was rather content with myself it has to be said.

Thursday was shit as I spent the whole of it at work, I was in at 8:30 for the summer school class, spent the whole afternoon planning the weekend and then taught another two classes before finishing just before ten. Awful day. The only good things to happen where I went to Lam Café for the addictive Chicken Satay Sauce for lunch and dropped in at Ali Akbar’s nextdoor to pay my debt from a couple of nights previous =) Linda did have a delicious dinner ready for when I stumbled in and that was very much appreciated!

Friday was my day off and Linda was only in on the night so we spent the daytime doing a huge shop at the local supermarket; Big C. We got all the things we needed, an extra towel, pillows, a blanket, more plates, extra cutlery and all that jazz. We also went wild on the food front, stocking up on the likes of pasta, rice, sauces, even olives, we even bought 24 toilet rolls as the nice kind was on offer. (Cheap Vietnamese toilet paper is just as bad as cheap UK toilet paper).

We got to the checkout and waited for the depressingly slow service that is the keynote of Vietnamese supermarkets (and absolutely wouldn’t pass in Asda or Tesco) and waiter for the total to tot up. When all was said and done we had managed to spend 2,694,000D, yes you read that right, a few throusand short of 2.7 million. Thankfully that’s only about 95 quid but it still makes your heart jump when you see the total on the register lol.

That night I cooked a Spaghetti Bolognaise while Linda was at work, I didn’t have the exact ingredients that I would have at home but I had most of them and that was good enough to come up with a serviceable rendition of the family recipe. We sat back and ate and watched the start of the World Cup. South Africa’s goal was an absolute stunner it has to be said.

Saturday was pretty uneventful in all fairness back to the weekend grind of teaching in HCMC, pretty much a pain in the ass! The night did bring Linda making a delicious chicken dinner with mashed tatties and gravy, as I’ve mentioned before her cooking is awesome! I set an alarm for the England game, summarily ignored it and Linda prodded me up in time to catch the dismal second half. I’m glad I didn’t see Green’s howler live or I might have thrown up. Clown shoe.

Sunday saw me at work once again, with a bag packed with clothes for the charity ILA do we were headed to that night. I suffered through the banter from my S5 class about Robert Green and even drew them a diagram of the team Capello should be playing. Towards the end of the day I gave myself a cursory sniff and realised my plan for heading straight to the charity gig was going on the back burner.

I would be scootering home, grabbing a shower and then heading in, which was fine as the party was half an hour later starting than I expected and Linda was coming from the other side of the city and finishing half an hour later than me so I had plenty of time. I even treat myself to a Cornetto when I got home. Despite that extravagance I still beat Linda to the party and was one of the first ones there!

The night was an absolute corker, I had a good few Tiger beers, joined in with the Chinese coin toss (free beer win x1) and the Tug of War (free beer win x3), at which I was summarily thrown around by Kasey, who is 6ft4 and in ridiculous shape, given who I am though I managed to hit the deck 4 or 5 times and get back up and not go over the line before he eventually dragged me over it.

Me and Linda; Smiling for Charity and Alcohol's Sake - Two Very Worthwhile Causes

The DJ got the music going and we hit the dancefloor. Myself and Amir were having an unintentional competition to see who the sweatiest man there could be and a good time was had by all. We eventually hopped in a taxi and headed home to the land of nod.

Monday was my day off and an exciting day, my Teaching Assistant, Kiet, had found a cheap Honda Cub being sold by a friend’s brother and I was going to go and check it out. As long as it wasn’t in utterly shit condition I was going to be the owner of my very own scooter. It was even a 49cc one so that I don’t require a licence to drive it here. Bonus.

Kiet came to meet us at our place and we followed him over to District 11, he made a few wrong turns getting there, I don’t know if we’d have ever made it on our own. I checked out the bike, a bit old, needing a couple of repairs but cheap and in good working order engine wise. I decided to buy it. Then came the problems.

The Grandma was a muppet who lived in fear of the hand of communism striking her down. She wanted the bike transferring into my name; something that is not possible as I’m not a resident. Most teachers here have a bike, that bike is in a Vietnamese persons name. Some bikes have been passed through many people and the registered name has never been changed, it’s part of being a gaijin here. She was eventually calmed down to sign a written contract and I thought that would be the end of it as I drove away on my very own scooter. From there I went and got the light fixed so I could drive at night and everything was hunky dory or so I thought. (This story continues on Thursday).

Tuesday afternoon brought a deluge of rain that prevented me from going into work when I planned and saw me going in not long before my classes started and rushing to get them and my Wednesday summer school class planned in time. On the plus side I spent the afternoon with Linda and not in the TSC =)

Wednesday morning saw me dragging my arse in for my summer school class, I did at least know I’d be free afterwards but I still didn’t really fancy it, I did make myself feel better with Nutella on toast for brekky though. Class finished, it was my time to head into the supermarket and get things in, various veggies and cheese, I actually found the place without getting lost and everything on the list. Rather surprising, from there I head to Lam Café for the Satay dish once again and got some chocolate milk in. Mmm.

Thursdays are my mortal enemy for the next few weeks, in early for summer school, planning classes all afternoon and then two more classes on the night. Borefest. Thankfully this particular one was broken up by Linda heading across to the city, picking me up, heading to a Banh Xeo place for dinner and then to the foreign foods store, Veggies, to pick up some things.

We got a good few delights in, including syrup for pancakes, pepperjack cheese, branston pickle, salami, chicken breast, Caesar dressing, proper stock cubes, pop tarts and other delights. This brightened up my long, long day no end. I then went in and finished getting the weekend planned, rather productively, I even managed to get next Tuesday pretty much done as well, I was on fire. I drove my bike back at night for the first time and discovered something entertaining, my Cub has a basket on the front and when the light is on a huge shadow of the basket is projected in front of me, pretty much the width of your average road. Genius. I came home and made myself a delicious sandwich and passed out.

This morning I got up early to take in game 7 of the NBA Finals, I was rooting for Boston as their point guard, Rajon Rondo, played for Kentucky back in the day. However it was not to be for the Celts who folded down the stretch and let Kobe take his fifth ring. It was nice to see Ron Artest be the hero and then thank his psychiatrist for calming him down in the post game interview, everyone and his dog was projecting Artest to be the goat who would lose the title for the Lakers. He actually saved them on an off day for his Kobe-ness.

From there myself and Linda headed out in search of bread, peach tea and DVDs, we’d been talking the previous night about Disney films and went on a shopping spree at her local seller. I picked up Kung Fu Panda, Toy Story 1+2, the Incredibles and How to Train your Dragon. Linda picked up about ten as well. Fifteen DVDs was 150,000 or six quid, nice.

We picked up a host of teas, mostly peach but with orange and wild berry flavours to try too, exciting! Then came some bread for a delicious branston pickle and pepperjack cheese sandwich for lunch. From there Linda left me, I watched the film Eragon, partly as I’m using it in one of my classes and needed to come up with some exercises to go along with it. Read a little over a a hundred pages of the Andy McNab book I’m really getting into and then spent an hour and a half typing up this near 3,000 word diatribe while listening to the golden lilt of Ryan Adams. Linda’s putting the finishing touches on tea as I type this and from where I’m sat it smells delicious. Mmm.

Love and Pepperjack

J. Xx


2 Responses to “Bringing it Smack, Bang, Up to Date. BOOM!”

  1. Why does your life revolve around food! Eragon is a popular book and series over here not that I have read the book or seen the movie I just order the books 🙂 love ya Mam

    • I think I’d like to read the books, from reports the movie is tosh compared to the books, if I see them I will pick them up!

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